What is it?
Until recently, Aston Martin sold three cars that were basically the same: DB9, Virage, DBS. The differences were minimal and they were hard to differentiate on the road to the untrained eye. Not ideal when your design philosophy also means the rest of your cars share a family look too. So, it’s had a rethink. Gone is the Virage (after just a couple of years on sale) and its front end has been blended onto the DB9, which itself is revised for 2013. This has cleared space at the top of its range for this – the carbon fibre-bodied Vanquish, which revives Aston’s brand-defining 2001 supercar name and aims to give the Ferrari F12 what for.
It’s not an all-new car. That’s not how Aston Martin’s ‘VH’ chassis philosophy works. This is all about progressive evolution, with new technology rolled out in stages. This time, it’s the carbon fibre body, which lets Aston do new things with shapes and sculpture, meaning this looks more modern, alluring and ‘new’ in the, er, composite than it does in the images. A pretty car, but a visually more modern one too.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it feels like a DBS that’s been made better, rather than an all new car, out on the road. Ride quality is the most obvious improvement, with new adaptive dampers having an extra level of adjustability to make it more pliant in town, yet sharper when out of it (perhaps now too sharp for scarred UK roads). The steering is crisper, if less chatty, and its ability to shrink and act like a junior GT on switchback roads is enhanced.
The 565bhp V12 now has more torque, thanks to new variable valve timing which enhances its flexibility, but this remains an engine you must rev to release its best. Who cares, when it sounds this good: the noise is incredible. Pity the six-speed auto isn’t as alluring. Two ratios down on newer units, it really dates the car.
On the inside
The interior is a triumph. The new centre console flows in one piece, instead of the bitty multi-part system of old, and its smart-phone-style touch-sensitive controls are brilliant. There’s more space, more stowage slots, more richness thanks to some decadent new trims and materials. It’s enough to help you overlook some of the relics of old, like the fly-off handbrake mounted on the floor and the spidery dials that remain hard to read.
At £191,140, the Vanquish is a very expensive car to buy. Aston argues that’s because it’s fitted everything as standard, leaving the buyer simply to choose what trims and materials they want. For which, yes, Aston will charge more. If you love Astons, you’ll find this is special enough to justify it. We can’t help but fear others will go for rival machines, though…