- Available from £70,000
- 5.9 litre petrol V12, rear-wheel drive
- Carbon fibre body, aluminium chassis, luxurious cabin
- Old-school noise delivery with modern handling
- Last of the big V12 Astons
- Generally reliable and a lot of car for the money
Vanquish. That's a word you'll hear a lot whenever there's a movie on telly about the knights of old. 'I vouchsafe I will vanquish thee, ye scurvy knave'. That's the sort of thing the black knight always used to say to the low-born hero of the film who, more often than not, would be played by Tony Curtis or Errol Flynn. Although to be honest scurvy knaves were more likely to be found on Spanish Armada-battling galleons captained by the likes of Tony Curtis or Errol Flynn.
Promising to vanquish someone meant that you intended to thoroughly defeat them. The modern British equivalent would probably be 'muller'. While you could almost imagine seeing a Muller badge on a Ford, a firm with the heritage of Aston Martin would never go for something so common.
And thus, in 2001, the Vanquish was born. A bonded aluminium and carbon fibre chassis made it more of a Judge Dredd than a clunky Sir Galahad. The 5.9 litre V12 broadsword it wielded developed 460hp, or 520hp in the 2004 S version, enough to give swarthy, goatee-bearded baddies like the Ferrari 550 Maranello a good run for its groats.
Penned by DB7 Vantage designer Ian Callum, but with added aggression, the gen-one Vanquish played a starring role in Die Another Day. This earned it third spot in a list of best ever movie cars, just after the Goldfinger DB5 in second and the Minis from The Italian Job at the top. The Vanquish's brutal charm, plus the fact that Astons were still largely hand-built at that time - just over 2,500 were turned out between 2001 and 2007, around 1,100 of them wearing the S badge - is now being reflected in showroom prices. It's not difficult to drop a quarter of a million quid on a low-mile Ultimate Edition S, of which just fifty were made.
They may have been lovingly crafted but those first Vanquishes weren't perfect. The glorious howl of the V12 on full chat sometimes had to compete with the grinding of the passengers' teeth after another dodgy change had been reluctantly delivered by the automated manual electro-hydraulic transmission. Dedicated owners insisted that you could learn to live with it and even love it, but the quirky nature of that transmission (a works conversion to manual is tellingly popular) proved to be a turnoff for more than one potential buyer taking one out for a test drive.
Those potential buyers were hoping for a better solution when the second-generation Vanquish came out in 2012, and they got it in the form of ZF's 6HP26 6-speed Touchtronic II, a conventional automatic that had been offered as an option in the DB9-based DBS V12, the 2007 car that bridged the time gap between the first- and second-gen Vanquish. The Touchtronic II wasn't as precise as the very best automated manuals on the market, but lock-up was fast and it was a very acceptable box for general use.
What about the rest of the new Vanquish though? Built on the IV version of the VH Generation bonded aluminium platform first seen in the 2004 DB9, the new car was bigger than the old one in all areas bar width (it was nearly an inch narrower) and weight, with up to 100kg trimmed from the old Vanquish, thanks in large part to the fact that all the painted body sections were made of carbon fibre, with the bits nearest the ground being left visually 'raw'. That, along with a hollow-cast rather than a solid-cast aluminium front structure, made the Vanquish 25 percent lighter than the DBS as well as 25 percent more resistant to twisting.
Although there was more automation at the factory than before it still took five weeks to build each car. With a good head start from the handsome DB9 the 2012 car looked spectacular too, if maybe a little 'groomed'. Braver people than us might say that the difference between the first 'British bulldog' Vanquish and the second one was a bit like the difference between Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. Whether you subscribe to that idea or not, it's hard to deny the exoticism and visual drama of the gen-two's heavily straked One-77 concept-inspired bodywork, whose Agent Provocateur stylings gave the new Vanquish immense street presence.
Another indisputable area of improvement was in performance. Power was up to 568hp, a 48hp hike on the gen-one S and a full 108hp up on the straight gen-one Vanquish. The 0-62 time came down from 4.4sec to 4.1sec, and then down to 3.8sec in the 2014-on cars that were given an updated engine and a new ZF 8-speed transmission. That wasn't the end of the performance story either. The S version that arrived in 2016 with new aero and an extra 27hp (but no change to its torque peak) brought the 0-62 down to 3.5sec.
All of the 2014-on Vanquishes were classified as 200mph cars. There were convertible Volante and S Volante versions too that were around 100kg heavier than the coupes. The S Volante was slower than the coupe, but perhaps we should say 'slightly less fast' there as 197mph is not exactly slow.
Considering the extra power, sophistication and modernity of the gen-two Vanquish, it's perhaps surprising that there's so little difference in gen-one and gen-two starting prices. You can get into a gen-two car for £70,000, compared to the £60,000 start point for leggy gen-one. That's quite a drop on the gen-two's new price of £190,000 of just eight years ago. Yes, £70,000 is still big money, but when you look at what you're getting - an immensely strong and light aluminium/carbon fibre body, a beautiful interior, monster power and noise from a naturally aspirated V12, and the street impact these cars still have (it was only discontinued two years ago) - then a second-gen Vanquish could be considered as quite the bargain.
That's why we're focusing on this model here. We'll take a look at why they're special - and also at why they might be so cheap - and then we'll pick out a few buying targets for you.
SPECIFICATION | ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH (Mk2)
Engine: 5,935cc, V12, 48v
Transmission: 6-speed automatic (8-speed after 2014), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 565@6,650rpm (595hp@7,000rpm 2016-on S model)
Torque (lb ft): 465@5,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.1sec (2012-2014); 3.8sec (2014 on); 3.5sec (2016-on S model)
Top speed: 183mph (2012-2014); 201mph (2014-on, both S and non-S models)
MPG (official combined): 19.6 (22.1 in post-2014 cars)
Wheels: 8.5x20 (f), 11x20 (r)
Tyres: 255/35 (f), 305/30 (r)
On sale: 2012 - 2018
Price new: £190,000 (£193,000 for 2014-on cars)
Price now: £70,000+
Note for reference: car weight and power data is hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it's wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
By the time the 568hp Vanquish came out in 2012, Ferrari's F12 was producing 730hp and, according to the official specs, was 200kg lighter, so you won't be shocked to hear that the Italian car pretty much destroyed the Aston on sheer performance.
But if you can spare an extra second to get from zero to 62mph and don't mind missing out on the F12's 211mph top speed, or on the Ferrari's ability to keep delivering at every point in its envelope right up to that esoteric top end, a used gen-two Vanquish does the V12 job admirably at half the money. Its performance, boosted over the DBS by the addition of double variable valve timing, will intoxicate most folk living below the thrillability level of say Chuck Yeager, and the sound from the stainless steel exhaust with active bypass valves is incredible. The red line sits at around 6,700rpm, and at 70mph the engine is ticking along nicely at 1,900rpm. For extra fun every gen-two Vanquish had launch control, the first Aston to be so equipped, balancing throttle, gearbox and traction aids to give the most explosive start off the line.
The game moved on in 2014 when the Vanquish got a new AM29 5.9 V12 engine and a new Touchtronic III 8-speed ZF auto, whose greater number of closer ratios contributed to both better acceleration (3.8sec for the 0-62 versus 4.1sec in the 2012-14 car) and a higher (201mph) top speed. Aficionados who have driven both do tend to rate the 8-speeder over the 6-speed. The Vanquish S announced at the end of 2016 broached the 600PS power threshold with bigger inlet manifolds for better breathing, and this car is also a favoured buy among those in the know.
All that said, you're very unlikely to feel shortchanged by the combination of such an inherently brawny engine with the older car's six-speed box, which smoothly shifts through the gears and responds smartly even to the sort of sudden or clumsy throttle hits that can confuse other cars of this type.
The Vanquish petrol tank holds 17 gallons, which sounds a lot, but even if you're attaining the official combined figure of around 20mpg that only gives you a realistic tank range of not much more than 300 miles. Not replacing the tank cap properly can be the simple cause of a 'check emissions' or 'check engine' dash warning, but it can also be down to a sensor issue or a leak somewhere in the fuel system. Always keep your firmware up to date.
Many felt that the Vanquish's overall feel was more akin to modern Jaguar sports cars than to previous Astons. That would make sense given the company's ownership history. The drivetrain sat far enough back in the chassis to provide a near-neutral front-to-back weight distribution, and the driver sat low enough in the comfy bucket to feel the full benefit of the adjustable double-wishbone adaptive suspension.
The Vanquish is wonderfully precise on smooth roads but perhaps the most impressive thing about it is how perfectly manageable it is on rougher ones, considering its size and weight. Roll and pitch are very well marshalled. There's strong bite and grip, but there's also enough power and playfulness to safely squirt the rear end out of line. Overdo it and the stability control will rein things back in. Three suspension modes (Normal, Sport and Track) and adjustments for the throttle response, exhaust note, gearbox settings and steering effort all added up to a great choice for UK byways and, according to more than one contemporary journalist, the best big Aston ever.
Post-2014 cars had stiffer damping, up by 15 percent at the front and 35 percent at the rear, along with a thicker anti-roll bar and new front end geometry settings. They also got lighter alloy wheels, knocking 7kg off unsprung weight. The result was a lift in steering feel and overall balance to a class-best-challenging level, albeit at the cost of some choppiness in the ride.
Ventilated Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes (One-77 398mm discs with six-pot calipers at the front, 360mm discs with four-pot calipers at the rear) were standard fitment for every gen-two Vanquish and gave owners the confidence to keep pounding on at track days.
All the painted surfaces are made of carbon fibre. That's great for weight saving, but not so great for accident repairs. A replacement front splitter will cost you around £2000, which maybe sounds not too bad until you realise that's for a scratched-up secondhand one off eBay. Used front wings also needing repairs will be at least £750 a pop.
Like the sills, the door mirrors are lacquered CF and could easily double as exhibits in an art gallery. The rear spoiler looks like the creation of a magician, which is exactly the effect that Aston's boss at the time, Ulrich Bez, wanted to put across. According to legend, each one of these items took two days to craft.
The butterfly doors open up as well as out which, given the car's low stance, takes the fear out of scraping the doors on the pavement. With a little care, even that low front splitter will survive in urban environments, though entirely scuffless ones will be hard to find.
The handbuilt element of the Aston proposition also sounds like it should be a good thing, but in reality it can just mean that you're faced with panel gaps that aren't quite as even as the ones on your neighbour's Golf. You'll either be the type who can comfortably buy into that sort of thing or the type who will be annoyed by it on a daily basis.
Try to examine the underside of any Vanquish you're looking at because they don't have Defender levels of ground clearance and cars that have been used in heavily traffic-calmed areas will be especially vulnerable to damage. Check that the hood operation on Volantes works, not just once but several times in succession, aligning correctly each time.
Condensation can be a problem with the lights at both ends of the car. Aston paint quality is renowned in the industry but peeling and large chips can be expensive to put right, ditto swirls from poor washing techniques. Struts for the bonnet or bootlid can fail, but this was mainly on the older VH platform cars.
The Vanquish cabin was redesigned for the gen-two car and it was a good step forward with high quality materials and a more cohesive layout. More intuitive glass touch-sensitive controls and instruments were logically arranged on a less space-stealing One-77-style waterfall centre stack, from which rose a 6.5in screen interface for the DAB radio, Garmin (not the best) satnav and 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen 13-speaker stereo.
Reworked door panels addressed the old DBS's lack of elbow room. Leg room was up by 37mm, knee room by a little more. Interior storage space was increased by 140 percent, which we take it means 1.4 times as much rather than double and then some. Whatever, the whole package was a lot roomier than it used to be. The Vanquish does have back seats but they're next to useless, a fact that Aston acknowledged by providing a delete option at ordering time.
The seats were heated and the ignition key, which was made of glass, would ignite the engine with a macho blip which might not endear you to the neighbours on early morning starts. You got climate control and parking sensors for your £190k, along with a Cobra tracking system, but you had to pay extra to upgrade the alarm system with volumetric and tilt sensors, or for a second glass key, which seems a bit mean. Other popular options included a carbon fibre dash, gear shifter paddles and roof panel, a One-77 steering wheel, quilting to the seats and rear shelf, and thicker carpeting.
We mentioned the Ferrari F12 earlier. It's important to remember that, in period, the F12 was £50,000 more expensive than the £190,000 Aston, and that was before you started piling the near-obligatory extras onto the Italian car to keep it up to speed with the market's requirements come resale time. Many F12s ended up being nearer to £300k than £250k. Different strokes etc, but even going mad with your box-ticking biro, could you have actually got a Vanquish up to £300k? No doubt someone with a few lockdown hours to fill will come on with the answer to that, but if you were buying one new would you have bothered to go down a mega-speccing route? Not sure. Aston press cars usually had around £20k's worth of extras fitted, with 20in wheels and red brake calipers typically added to the list mentioned above.
Each interior took between 50 and 70 man-hours of work, using seven hides for the upholstery and dash and door cards and Alcantara for the headlining. Aston leather and the adhesives used are known for suffering in warmer climates, especially if you regularly left your car parked up in the heat. Trim pieces can come adrift and rattles can ensue. Again, carefully weigh up the sort of use your car will be put to, and the sort of environment it will be living in.
The only other thing to watch out for really was a problem some owners of 2012-2014 cars had with the PRND transmission buttons on the centre stack. You could press one of the buttons and the entire assembly would collapse behind the fascia (I had a cooker hood with the exact same problem). There was no recall: instead, Aston waited for owners to report the problem, at which point it would be fixed. That can impact badly on you as the secondary owner if you buy a car that didn't have the problem, and hence didn't have the fix. If it subsequently goes awry, the bill will be down to you.
As Jay Leno said, this is a car that you go out to dinner in, then drive up the coast, and then take to the track on a Saturday afternoon. He lives in California, obviously, but even on a wet weekend in Hartlepool a Vanquish will bring a bright burst of volcanic sound and fury into your life.
Mike D has just shone a torch on big Aston values (or the lack of), and although the Vanquish 2 hasn't dropped to Rapide levels quite yet it still offers excellent value. Compared to the million-pound plus One-77, which many believe it beats as a driving proposition, it really is a huge bargain. The revised 2014-on cars had a better power to weight ratio than a Porsche 911 GT3, and they weren't that much bigger than the 911 either so you shouldn't fear a lack of wieldiness in tight spaces.
Need more sensible reasons to justify your purchase? Here's one: at 368 litres, the Vanquish boot has more space than a Bentley Continental GT's, and 60 percent more than the DBS's. They say you can fit not one but two golf bags in there. And here's another: Aston dealers have a good reputation for looking after their customers. A 1 year/10k service will be around £680, a 2 year/20k one with a brake fluid change £720. The 4yr/40k service will include a diff oil change while the spark plugs will need changing at 70,000 miles - and that's £1,100 on its own.
So it won't be cheap. A windscreen for a gen-one Vanquish used to be over £10,000, that's if you could find one, but generally speaking there are very few common problems with the gen-twos other than the aforementioned issue with the PRND buttons, and at the end of the day you will be driving an Aston Martin.
It should go without saying that the amount of money you'll be spending on one of these cars means that you would be borderline certifiable not to have an engineer's report carried out on any car you're interested in. Normally you'd always expect us to recommend a warranty, but the potential cost of one of those against the gratifyingly low likelihood of expensive failure means that this is not a no-brainer decision.
Looking for gen-two Vanquishes in PH Classifieds, we've decided not to bore you with special editions because we reckon that every Vanquish is a special edition in its own right and anything else is either a marketing exercise or needless gilding of the lily. With that in mind we found this first-year specimen in Skyfall Silver with Obsidian Black leather.
The mileage may seem high at 34,000, but we like that. Super-low mileage Vanquishes aren't necessarily the holy grail because these cars are meant to be driven, not kept unused for months or even years at a time. Your reward for taking the same view as us on this matter is a low asking price of £71,000.
Here's another 2012 car, this time in luscious Magma Red with leather-bound carpets, some nice trim options and a second glass key. With 16,000 miles it's yours for just under £83,000.