Driven: Aston Martin Vanquish

Aston Martin doesn’t change things for the sake of it. The core principal of its VH methodology is to improve what it already has: that’s how models such as the V8 Vantage evolved from OK into very able indeed. Now, with the Vanquish, we’ve another evolution, boasting ‘generation 4’ VH platform, full carbon fibre bodywork and a 77 per cent new AM11 V12 engine. It’s not ‘more new’ because, yes, Aston said there was no need - “Why change the bore centres for the sake of it?”

Carbon skin means sharper lines
Carbon skin means sharper lines
This should be the most well developed modern Aston ever, then. It certainly looks it. Images don’t do justice to the near-iridescence of the surfaces – designer Marek Reichman says the depth of the rear haunches and sharp creases throughout wouldn’t be possible in aluminium and describes the impression as the difference between rolling mountain hillsides and sheer alpine ranges. Unlike many recent ‘new’ Astons, it does evolve the DB9-derived theme we’re familiar with and you’ll tell it apart from other Astons in an instant.

Same old same old?
There’s too much that’s familiar inside, mind – dials and 1970s fly-off handbrake spring to mind – but at least the footwells are bigger and the haptic feedback centre console fancier - it clicks like an iPhone when you touch it. You’ll still curse the key too (press in and hold…) but, boy, is there a reward when it catches.

Engine is 'mostly new' and mainly brill
Engine is 'mostly new' and mainly brill
Now producing 573hp, the 6.0-litre V12 boasts an exhaust system developed from the One-77 that sounds immense. It blares powerfully even at idle – it’s not dependent on accelerating gases to create its harmony – and is every bit as rich as you’d hope. Turn it up further by jabbing the glowing red ‘S’ sport button on the steering wheel.

The engine is nine per cent more powerful, nine per cent more economical and, significantly, now has dual variable valve timing so there’s more torque lower down in the rev range, compensating for the holes in the gearbox’s ratios. It’s still not a slugger but it now has more of the response you’d expect of a 6.0-litre motor at cruising revs and now gets into its stride at 3,000rpm rather than 4,500rpm. The howl at redline revs is brilliant.

Off the line
At 4.1 seconds, it’s 0.2secs faster to 62mph albeit slower overall, presumably due to the downforce-inducing aeroduct rear. There’s a new launch control to help make this repeatable, albeit a pretty soft and undramatic one.

It does look different ... but any better?
It does look different ... but any better?
The six-speed ZF gearbox is perhaps at fault here. It’s neither as snappy as a good DCT nor as expansive as the latest eight-speed unit. This is the Vanquish’s weakest area.

Three-stage adaptive damping (controlled by another steering wheel button) and 25 per cent greater torsional rigidity have appreciably improved the DBS’s ride quality. The chassis is now more supple and it’s tuned to use a wide range of wheel travel where necessary, yet is damped well enough to never seem loose.

Handling is also sharper though – an extra stage of adaptivity means the car’s breadth is wider and Aston’s added more tautly-controlled focus in the sportier reaches. Wider tyres mean traction is superb and it can be chucked about like a much smaller car with real confidence: this is a very easy and natural car to drive.

Test route showed up some chassis jitters
Test route showed up some chassis jitters
Getting the jitters
Just one proviso – the Cambridgeshire test route created a very sharp and jittery Vanquish in places. The roads were  disgracefully bad, yes, but whether Aston’s gone too far here must wait until we get it on familiar roads.

The steering is less chatty than before. Perhaps inevitable: the classic 911-style on-centre squirm of the DBS is a bit old-school now, and the Vanquish trades this for more positive bite to micro-inputs. It’s still a fine system, but in making it ‘better’, it’s become a bit less charismatic.

Other areas still feel like a racecar though, from the standard carbon ceramic brakes to the feeling of mass centralised even more within the chassis. It is - the engine is 19mm lower and the hollow cast aluminium front chassis is 13 per cent lighter than the DBS. It feels more of a specialist car than a 911 or a Conti GT, just one that’s now better to look at, live with and to drive. Although, at £190K, priced accordingly too…

Familiar but a bit better - spot the theme?
Familiar but a bit better - spot the theme?
The philosophy of VH means the Vanquish doesn’t feel a radical diversion. Rightly or wrongly, we shouldn’t expect otherwise. Rather, it’s a better version of what went before. Only now, at last, it also looks like it, too…





5,935cc, V12
Transmission: 6-speed ZF automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 573@6,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 457@5,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.1 sec
Top speed: 183mph
Weight: 1,739kg
MPG: 19.6
CO2: 335g/km
Price: £191,080


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Comments (186) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Verde 24 Nov 2012

    Stunning car, beautiful motor. But all connected up with an old-fashioned slush-box? AM, who are you kidding here? Your market research must have focused on size of wallet, not driving passion.

  • AntJD 22 Nov 2012

    Looks great from almost every angle. I just dont like that rear wing, much prefer the solid flick on Vantage.

  • F1GTRUeno 21 Nov 2012

    London John said:
    JaseB said:
    London John said:
    F1GTRUeno said:
    whoami said:
    London John said:
    I bought a brand new well optioned Ferrari FF for £7k more than this car lists.

    Aston have some serious work to do.
    I didn't realise that Ferrari discounted even more than AM?
    It should be considering how fking ugly the FF is.
    From somebody that clearly hasn't driven one.

    I'll grant you that the DB9 in it's original incarnation was pretty, but this thing is a poorly chavved up rehash.
    I always find people's views inetresting, I certainly wouldn't say the FF is ugly and I can also see the Ferrari influence in the way AM have tried to move the DB9 design on to modernise it and make it a bit more edgy.

    The front splitter for example certainly has an element of the Ferrari California about it, I feel for the AM design team, damned if they do, damned if they don't, either way "chavved up rehash" is pretty harsh isn't it? Read that and thought "ouch"...
    Fair one Jase, but it's the first thought that came to mind.

    There was a very observant post in this thread to the effect that 95% of people wouldn't be able to tell this car apart from a DB9, which I think says it all. The "range" of AM models is really nothing of the sort, it's all very marginal. I would be hard pressed to pick the models apart at 100 yards in twilight, whereas with, for example, Ferrari you'd never confuse one model with another (for right or wrong). I appreciate that AM is a small independent compared to the Fiat/Ferrari machine, but they need to address their propensity to respond to a limited development budget by making minor tweaks at the margin on an already tired look. Don't get me wrong, I loved the DB9. Hell, I owned one for two years. What I say about AM is tinged with disappointment as I'd much rather buy "British" than Italian......but it's just not a realistic choice.
    If you can't any of the Astons apart from each other then you need your eyes testing. The fact that you bought an FF confirms it (and from your comment above, what does having driven one have to do with what I can see? I've seen one in the flesh and it's hideous).

  • R32UK 20 Nov 2012

    E38Ross said:
    The looks are boring? You what? What do you drive that's so amazingly pretty then? And R32 golf by any chance? They look similar because the sane designer designed them. An aventador is a different ball park for cars, one's a GT car, the other a supercar
    No I dont drive an R32. How is that related to this thread?

    Read the other replies mate, might help to demist those tinted specs you seem to be wearing.

  • toppstuff 20 Nov 2012

    I am a bit puzzled at the hate and negativity from some people here..

    In the flesh, this car is a real and genuine development from the DBS. Parked next to a DBS, it makes the DBS look old.

    It also has more room inside and a much nicer interior IMO.

    It is pretty pricy, but the fact is that they are charging what the market will take. And the market for these cars nowadays is not the UK , so our moaning about the price rather misses the point.

    I wish the Aston lads well with this car. It looks lovely and it is made by people who care.

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