Let’s get this out of the way right up front: this review of the new Aston Martin Vanquish is going to be primarily positive. And really, the only negative here is that this humble author doesn’t yet have the $300,000 necessary to own one. Other than that, the Vanquish is like most modern supercars—an object of intense and oftentimes irrational desire, and a supremely effective instrument for redefining perceptions.
Visually, the Vanquish is a study in lines—striking, vivid lines that appear to have been organically coaxed from carbon fiber to coalesce into a scintillating whole. The most stunning example is the line that runs from the front side strakes back across the doors. Much of the Vanquish’s visual panache is derived from the Aston Martin One-77, the company’s mega-exclusive, $2,000,000-plus hypercar. Keep looking, and the Vanquish continues its visual feast—the twin center lines that track up the hood then echo and reverse on the roof, the lightly flared rocker panels, the character line that runs from the top of the headlights, over those stunning hips, and around to the integrated rear wing. This is a gorgeous car.
Aston Martins have always been a different breed of supercar—preferring to arrive at the party wearing a perfectly tailored suit over a ripped muscle shirt, Ray-Bans, and tanning lotion (see: Lamborghini Aventador). Under the Vanquish’s carbon fiber suit resides Aston Martin’s multi-use Generation 4 VH architecture. Because of this, and the extensive use of lightweight materials, the Vanquish is both stiffer and lighter than its predecessor, the DBS. And while the Vanquish uses the same basic engine as the DBS, a 6.0-liter V-12, this iteration makes 565 horsepower (up from 510 in the DBS) and 457 pound-feet of torque (up from 420 pound-feet). Putting that power to the ground is a six-speed automatic transmission with column mounted paddles. The increased grunt means the dash to 60 miles per hour is politely dispensed with (this it is an Aston Martin after all) in about four seconds, and this English gentleman will keep on hustling to 183 miles per hour.
When it comes time to experience that performance, swing open the swan doors and take in the attractively appointed cabin. The Vanquish also draws inspiration for its interior from the One-77—the sweeping central stack with touchscreen controls and curvaceous dashboard all hearken to the multi-million dollar Aston. It’s not perfect though—the rear seats are comically tiny and the pop-up navigation screen’s display looks positively antiquated and rather spoils the otherwise gorgeous center stack; it’s best to just leave it off and tucked away. Those things aside, it is clear that quality time was spent on the layout, fit and finish, and the materials on the Vanquish’s cabin. And besides, if you don’t like the rear seats, they’re an optional delete. The end result is a comfortable and beautifully bespoke place from which to command the miles.
Slide the crystal key fob into its slot on the center stack to start the car and the big V-12 ignites with a bark, then settles into a delicious, brassy throb. Poodling around town, through traffic, and in between stoplights, the Vanquish is no harder to drive than your grandmother’s LeSabre. Hit the button marked “D” on the dash to keep the transmission in automatic and put the suspension and mapping in their most vanilla settings, and this big Aston becomes a willing companion in daily commuting. But, to use this gorgeous gran tourer to simply sit in traffic is borderline criminal. Inevitably, the traffic clears and divinity sees fit to unfurl stretches of open pavement before you. The red mist descends and temptation goads you to switch into Sport mode, knocking down a few gears, and giving it the boot. Don’t resist. Grab second gear and let the engine hover anxiously near 4000 rpm. The 6.0-liter V-12 strains and yowls in a gritty baritone that consumes every available auditory receptor. Cue Han Solo and Chewbacca outrunning Imperial starfighters and making the jump to lightspeed: Punch it.
With the throttle buried, the Vanquish pulls like a fully stoked locomotive and ignites primal areas in your brain you didn’t even know existed. The residential areas around the Aston Martin of New England dealership in Waltham, Mass were no place to fully exploit the Vanquish, but after a few rips on the highway up to, ahem, vigorous speeds, it is clear the car’s breadth of talent is deep and intoxicating. And the sound? Oh Lordy, the sound! Aston Martin reportedly made an effort to insulate the cabin from outside noise, but they (thankfully) completely failed at keeping that V-12 bellow from penetrating to your very core.
The steering is well weighted and precise, and the slightly squared off steering wheel feels strong and confident in hand. Toggling between the different suspension and power delivery settings produces a noticeable difference in the way the Vanquish drives. Sport mode feels crisp and responsive and produces the biggest grins. There is a reassuring sense of solidity in the way the Vanquish carves up winding back roads and handles rough pavement. When it comes times to slow up, the carbon ceramic brakes firmly haul the Vanquish’s rather portly 3800 pounds down from speed. This car was made for effortlessly loping across the endless miles in serene comfort with that glorious V-12 ever ready and willing to hunt down the horizon.
What the Aston Martin Vanquish accomplishes is twofold. While it isn’t as dynamically superior as the Ferrari F12 or a McLaren MP4-12C, it asserts itself in the marketplace as a tremendously capable and heartstoppingly lovely grand tourer that maintains the elegance and charisma inherent in Aston Martin DNA. And, it takes the family halo car crown previously worn by the DBS and adds a few more precious stones. Now, about that $300,000…
- Opportunities to drive cars like the Vanquish are special ones. Many thanks and much respect to Steve Oldford and Matt Nolan at Aston Martin of New England for the chance to review this car. Be sure to check out AMNE’s website at www.AstonMartin-Lotus.com and ‘Like’ the Facebook page. Also visit TDC’s Facebook page for more photos of the Vanquish.