Posts Tagged ‘DBS’

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.

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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.

DSC_0109Aston 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.

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

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 DSC_0112becomes 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.

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

Photo Credit: Aston Martin

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…

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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.

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Few manufacturers can create a product or brand that defines absolutely the category or marketplace they compete in. When it does happen, even if you’ve never used the product or brand before, understanding of what it is and what it means is ubiquitous. When someone says, “That couch is the Cadillac of couches,” you know that couch is probably damn good. Or when you hear, “It’s a Dusie,” your mind flashes to the behemoth Deusenbergs of yore and the supreme luxury they represent. And with this week’s ‘Car in the Wild’, simply uttering the name ‘Aston Martin’ conveys the very essence of cool, luxury, and class. And this, the DBS, Aston Martin’s flagship car, is the rolling epitome of the brand’s DNA.

To the untrained eye (heck, to even the trained eye sometimes), the DBS looks basically the same as another Aston Martin, the DB9. And while the cars are very similar in nearly every way, the DBS is the harder, faster version of the DB9. Aston Martin essentially sent the DB9 to the gym, put a muscle shirt on it, had it grow a chinstrap beard, and unleashed it into the world. How’d they do? Well, a certain Mr. James Bond drove one in the last two 007 movies, so not too shabby methinks. With these changes, the philosophy of the two cars has grown apart as well. While the DB9 is focused on being a long distance grand tourer with sporting pretensions, the DBS is first and foremost a supercar with undertones of grand touring. The distinction between the DB9 and the DBS continues with minor but distinct cosmetic differences: two small hood scoops, a deeper chin spoiler, larger wheels, and carbon ceramic brakes among others. The result is a tremendously capable and powerful GT car that looks the business from every angle. Mr. Bond’s vehicle of choice packs a 6-liter V12 that pumps out 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque, enough to dispense the run to 60 mph in a shade over four seconds, all the while cosseting the driver in the lap of distinctly British luxury.

Back to the styling for a moment. Some people criticize Aston Martin for essentially making the same car with four different badges and a look at their product portfolio seems to support this claim. The cars, the Vantage, DB9, Virage, and DBS, do look almost identical. Even the four door Aston, the Rapide, looks like the same car. However, delve deeper into each car and you’ll find substantial differences that separate them from each other. At the “bottom” of  the food chain is the V8 Vantage, also known as the “baby Aston.” Since its introduction in 2005, there have been a number of exciting Vantage variants including the V12 Vantage, the N400, and the Vantage S that help make it not-so-bottom-of-the-foodchain. Check out Fifth Gear’s review of the epic V12 Vantage HERE.

The newest member of the Aston Martin family is the Virage. It, uhh, looks exactly like the DB9 and the DBS, doesn’t it? Except for minor visual cues, it looks like the same car. There is method to the madness here, however. Aston created the Virage to fill the power, price, and function gap between the DB9 and the DBS . The DB9 is the “soft” grand tourer, the Virage turns the heat up a little from there, and the DBS  wears the family crown. It can all be a little confusing, but one auto magazine explained Aston’s family tree by saying the three cars were “theme and variations” on the same DNA. Again, cue Fifth GearHERE.

Bottom line, the DBS is one of the coolest cars on the road from one of the world’s most storied marquees. Money being no object, there would be a DBS just like the one pictured in the TDC Dream Garage. And a martini, shaken, not stirred.