14. Aston Martin Cygnet (2011-2013)
We needn’t dwell long here, not least because Aston’s notorious folly barely qualifies for inclusion. Probably the best thing you can say about the Cygnet is that it represented outside-the-box thinking by one of Britain’s most venerable carmakers. Unfortunately, Aston stepped out of the box and straight into the equivalent of an enormous pile of horse manure. There were surely better ways of swerving around the average fleet emission problem than overcharging people for a Toyota iQ, everyone mused at the time. Now we know for sure there were because people voted with their feet and Aston promptly killed the idea when faced with a spectacular shortfall in sales. One it would rather forget, needless to say.
13. Aston Martin V12 Speedster (2020 - present)
If the Cygnet was a stupid idea, the Speedster at least qualifies as wonderfully daft. It’s easy to see why the roofless model was signed off: the other supercar makers were doing it, and who wouldn’t want an Aston Martin inspired by the CC100 concept that provided unfettered access to a monster 700hp V12? It all sounded brilliant, the ultimate pared-back British roadster; though like the similarly configured McLaren Elva, the Speedster was just a bit much in real life. The wind noise meant the V12 couldn’t be heard anyway, the styling was a bit strange and, well, if the heavens opened, you were going to get wet. Subsequent specials - most notably the yet-to-be-driven Valour, with its roof and manual gearbox - are much easier to like on spec. You won't need a helmet either.
12. Aston Martin Vanquish (2012-2018)
Hideously unfair to go straight from a stillborn baby swan and a roofless oddity to what is undeniably a very handsome Grand Tourer - but from here on let’s remember that there’s typically only a fag paper between what are more often than not astonishing cars. Of course, the reason for the Vanquish propping up the GT pile is that there was only a fag paper between it and various other iterations of Aston’s VH platform at the time. Didn’t stop it looking and sounding fabulous, but - alongside the earlier DBS - the Vanquish comes from the era when people asked ‘which one is this again’? And that’s not ideal for a car that cost nearly £200k at launch. Aston later sought to fix the problem with the limited edition Zagato cars, and they still command serious money. But the earlier, ‘standard’ cars can be had from £70k. Which, in fairness, seems like a steal.
11. Aston Martin DB9 (2004-2016)
Okay, potential steward’s enquiry here already: yes, strictly speaking, the Vanquish - being the evolutionary take on the GT format that it was - was a better car to drive than the venerable DB9. But the Vanquish’s significance and place in history is hard to recall; the DB9’s is not. It was the first car based on the cutting-edge VH platform, the first built at Gaydon, and the one chiefly responsible for the inimitable style that we now associate with the brand. In other words, it was the first Aston of the 21st century, and arguably the most crucial one. And sure, it wasn’t perfect and it was built for tremendously too long, but it laid the foundation for everything that came afterwards. So credit where it’s due. Also, they now start from less than £30k. Which, peril aside, is an even bigger steal given how timelessly good they still look.
10. Aston Martin V12 Vantage (2022-2024)
There are several problems with the final iteration of the V12 Vantage. Performance, admittedly, was not one of them. Delivering 700hp to its sports car really did result in a bit of a monster. And that’s great - but thanks to the turbocharged lump, it didn’t always sound like it. Nor did it necessarily look the part, thanks to a (deletable) fixed rear spoiler that upset the profile. Then there was the price, which commanded a six-figure premium over lesser examples of the outgoing Vantage. Which seemed extravagant even allowing for the fact that Aston sold all 333 units immediately. But mostly there was the model’s failure to live up to the oft-cited appeal of its V12-powered predecessor. That car and its engine went together like chocolate and fondue. The follow-up, for all its lairy superiority, did not.
9. Aston Martin DB11 (2016-2023)
If the V12 Vantage was partly foiled by memories of its forbear, the DB11 suffers for our recent experience of its successor. The DB12 rights so many of its perceived wrongs that it’s hard not to look down on the model that originally replaced the DB9. This is unfair, although Aston did need several iterative goes to get the best from its Grand Tourer, and it says something about its initial offering that it was probably the car that benefitted most from the introduction of Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0-litre V8 in 2017. That the earliest cars have roughly halved in value says something, too. If you’re looking for the sweet spot, we’d recommend the AMR variant that took the V12 to 639hp and included the chassis revisions applied to the V8. Expect to pay in the region of £100k. Or less if the DB12 does its job.
8. Aston Martin Rapide (2010-2020)
The second oldest Aston to sneak in under the wire, and, like the DB9, it certainly showed its years towards the end. The Rapide also tended to suffer from frequent comparisons with the like-minded Porsche Panamera, a car that evolved to be far superior on the driving front. And the accommodating people in the back bit. But it never looked as good. The Rapide proved not only that the underlying VH platform was as flexible as Aston had always claimed it was, it also showed that the firm’s design language could be adapted to fit other models. The car’s subjective appeal also spoke to a host of intangibles that made it better than it had any right to be - here was an Aston that was much more than the sum of its shortcomings. In short, it was very cool. And, starting at around £50k for a Rapide S, still is.
7. Aston Martin V8 Vantage (2018 - present)
It’s safe to say we await the unveiling of the latest Vantage with a considerable sense of anticipation. Partly that’s because the success of the DB12 has primed us for great things; partly it’s because the current model has often threatened great things without ever quite delivering. The 510hp variant has always seemed hugely capable from a handling and powertrain perspective, yet it was stuck with a poor cabin from day one and then suffered the distraction of a mostly pointless manual conversion. Still, following on from the DB11, the Vantage proved that the partnership with Mercedes-AMG would still result in cars that were unmistakably Aston in terms of look and feel, the firm just hadn't located the X factor that would make it exceptional. Let's hope that the last issue - along with the interior - is about to be rectified.
6. Aston Martin Valkyrie (2021 - present)
Perhaps it’s immaterial what the Valkyrie actually drives like (although time on track suggests it’s remarkable) the point is that Aston, having admittedly taken what seemed like all the time in the world, was capable of pulling it off in the first place. To call it wildly ambitious is to undersell it. The Valkyrie is a mid-engined, carbon-tubbed, aero-fettling hybrid hypercar. That features a 1,000hp Cosworth-built V12. And has to (sort of) work on the road. For Aston to have wrestled the initial concept into a production model is monumental - not just because it has resulted in one of the quickest cars ever made, but because it also proves that with the right investment, vision and motivation, the firm is capable of just about anything.
5. Aston Martin DBX (2020 - present)
At the opposite end of the imaginary scale - but in many ways an equivalent achievement - we get the DBX. If the Valkyrie is the car Aston wanted to build to show it could, the SUV is the car it had to build to prosper in the 21st century. It probably did not matter that the limited-edition Valkyrie was endlessly delayed, whereas the DBX was needed promptly and in great volume - which required the small matter of a whole new factory. Its maker might’ve been forgiven then for half-arsing it with someone else’s platform. But it didn’t. Like the Vantage, the DBX might suffer for its Mercedes-supplied infotainment, but it’s as close to pedigree Aston underneath as an SUV could be. And that’s exactly how it drives.
4. Aston Martin Vantage V8 (2005 - 2017)
There was a time and place for disparaging Aston’s rear-drive V8 sports car for not being quite as good or as fast as a senior 911 while costing rather a lot. However, not only would there be no Aston Martin without the long-running Vantage, there would be no modern brand touchstone either. Because while the DB9 could be said to have laid the firm’s current foundations, it is surely the cheaper, thrusting Vantage that can claim responsibility for the walls and the roof on top. Moreover, in the ever-tightening noose of today’s climate, it is easy to look more kindly on the burly and very naturally aspirated V8 - especially in its larger, throatier format. You’ll pay £50k for an immaculate 4.7-litre manual these days. And probably never regret it.
3. Aston Martin DBS Superleggera (2018 - present)
Aston Martin at its finest, and fully deserving of its podium place. Should the DBS ever be overhauled in the manner of the DB11, the result will be magnificent. So much was already spot on back in 2018, with a charismatic and hugely powerful V12 mated to a capable and engaging chassis. Nothing revolutionary, perhaps - yet it refined the front-engined, rear-drive mega GT to such a degree that it was hard not to be completely won over. Whatever the time, whatever the place, everything was made better by the magnetic presence of Aston’s flagship. Now early cars are from £130k, and very low mileage ones a smidge over £150k. Familiar interior shortcomings aside, the Superleggera showed that Gaydon could rival even Maranello for beauty, soul and flag-waving. desirability. The next flagship has a lot to live up to.
2. Aston Martin DB12 (2023 - present)
Let’s forget that the DB12 is the car that the DB11 probably should’ve been from the start and just celebrate instead that it has arrived, fully formed and really very lovely. As you might expect, the driving experience is not night and day different from the final derivatives of the car it replaces - yet the minor (and occasionally major) changes have resulted in something that the DB11 wasn’t, which is to say wonderfully resolved. That very much extends to the new cabin - finally, here’s an Aston that’s as good to sit in and use every day as it is to look at in a magazine. And while the firm’s insistence that the new model is a ‘super-GT’ in a class of its own can be answered with a raised eyebrow, there is little doubt that here, finally, is a grand tourer endowed with supercar measures of Bond-like flair. A proper Aston, in other words.
1. Aston Martin V12 Vantage (2009 - 2018)
But not the proper-ist. Alongside the DBX, the DB12 has provided the best evidence yet of the laudable direction Aston is headed; accordingly, we can expect more from both in time. Yet they will do well to capture the essence that made the earlier V12 Vantage such a special car. Yes, there were age-old Aston qualities - a vast engine, steroidal styling, swagger everywhere - but never before had they congealed to quite the same effect. This being Aston, of course, it took a few goes to get the car right (and even then it tried to ruin it by removing the manual option) but by the time the updated Vantage S arrived - in 2013, coincidentally - it had nailed the burly, coupe-muscle car vibe. Even then it didn’t present as perfect or innovative or state-of-the-art; it was just as sorted as a rear-drive bruiser could hope to be - and also the epitome of everything good and true about Aston itself.
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