The front a deep airdam, more headlamps than you can shake a stick at, and the most elegant and evocative front grille in the world, announce the arrival of the long bonnet. The double vents behind the front arches are about all the masculine Coupe shares visually with its effeminate sibling the DB.

Inside we have Connolly hide, Wilton carpet and burr walnut interior. My specimen sported tan leather with green piping and matching green cowl to the dashboard. It's ratherdeflating to thump about in the best of British and then have to resort to stock Ford buttons.

Under the bonnet gleams another gallery exhibit; an all-alloy, quad-earn, 32-valve, 5,340cc V8 built, according to the plaque, by one Ron Russell. Although of the same capacity it offers, at 350bhp and 3691b/ft of torque, some 200bhp less than the unit lurking within a Vantage but, thus equipped, the Coupe is still good for a quoted 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds, 0-100mph in 13.5, and a top speed in excess of 150mph. Five-speed manual or six-speed manual transmission is on offer, but the four-speed auto I drove is bound to be the norm. It gives only one cause for complaint; the instant before rolling to a standstill at the lights, the gearbox throws itself into first with a serious and unavoidable jerk. Very nasty.

There's a disappointing absence of burble when you fire up the Coupe, due, in part I'm sure, to the quality and quantity of insulation from the outside world. Jogging along behind is, I suspect, the only way to get the fullaural benefit. The Coupe is quick, no question, but even at moments of some urgency, and road roar from massive low profiles aside, the squeak of leather and thrum of engine produce a sound no more daunting than that of a gang of excited field mice running up a waistcoat on a sewing machine.

This isn't a car to shrink around you as you drive it. It stays huge. And an inability to locate the front or back end accurately from the driver's seat isn't helped bya huge turning circle.

In keeping with the softened performance, the Coupe offers a more comfortable ride than the Vantage.

Assessing the handling abilities of the Coupe is all about finding the right road. It'll thump down dual carriageways and motorways all day at speeds far in excess of those acceptable but sweeping roads are what the Coupe was made for. This I drove again and again, faster and faster; until the sun finally fell off its perch. Once you stuff the A-M into the bends, the Coupe rewards you with a storming ride.


Aston Martin V-8 Coupe


Road Tested in 1996


0-60 mph ... 5.8sec.'s

0-100 mph ... 13.5 sec.'s

150 m p h

AM built V-8 .....32 valve

350 bhp .....5,340 cc

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Author: ArchitectPage