Where’s the soul in alphanumericals? Announce to friends that you’re the proud owner of a new F458, and chances are they’ll think you bought a toaster rather than the latest bloodcurdling Ferrari.
“What do you think of my new CL65?” “Wow. Can you watch the Golf Channel on it?” Not the response you want after dropping $211,000 on Mercedes’ big and brash 620-horse luxe coupe.
That’s why I love Aston Martin’s latest Vanquish supercar. Vanquish—to defeat or conquer in battle, according to the dictionary. To crush or overpower. Just exhaling the word raises all those little hairs on the back of my neck. “Wanna ride in my new Vanquish?” “Hell, yeah.”
Of course, this isn’t the first Vanquish to emerge from the fabled British sports car maker. Back in 2001, the then all-new Vanquish was the baddest, boldest, most brutal Aston Martin ever, a thundering 514-horsepower projectile that lived to Die Another Day in 2002 with Pierce “007” Brosnan behind the wheel.
Sadly, production ceased in 2007, and while its successor, the DBS, was a more suave and sophisticated animal, it never exuded the raw, license-to-thrill character of the Vanquish.
This new Vanquish—base price $282,000 and change—recaptures much of the soul and stamina of the original. Its coachwork takes its cues from Aston’s $1.5 million One-77 hand-built supercar—only 77 were built and sold—with some of the most sensuous curves this side of Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks.
And there’s substance in the new Aston’s style, with a body fashioned from lightweight, superstrong carbon fiber. It contributes to the car’s 25 percent increase in torsional rigidity and 150-pound weight loss over the DBS.
The car’s big 5.9-liter V-12 is essentially carried over from the “S,” though it’s been thoroughly reworked with the addition of variable valve timing that’s helped raise horsepower from 510 to 565.
Surprisingly, Aston has stuck with the tried-and-tested six-speed ZF automatic for the new Vanquish, forgoing the latest eight-speed automatic on offer from ZF. One or two hard-driving enthusiasts will lament the dropping of the six-speed manual, but few others (myself included) will care.
The big change, however, comes when you slide behind the new square-cornered steering wheel—carried over from the One-77 and thankfully deletable in favor of a traditional circular helm. The cabin has grown in size to offer more shoulder room and leg space. There’s even a tad more room in the trunk.
It’s the increase in quality and craftsmanship, however, that you really notice. The quilted Bridge of Weir leather used for the new seats is stitched with the precision of an Hermès handbag. Pity, however, it’s all spoiled by the new and truly awful Garmin-based navigation system, which features graphics by Fisher-Price.
But this new Vanquish is all about the driving. And after two days of thrashing along some of Merrie Olde England’s most challenging country lanes, my palms are still sweaty, my pulse still racing.
While 565 horsepower is far from excessive in today’s elevated supercar world—the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta packs an incredible 730 horses—this hairy-chested Vanquish still delivers awesome performance. Sixty comes up from standstill in four seconds, 100 mph in around 9.5. The joy won’t quit until the speedo needle is kissing the 183 mph mark.
The big V-12 gives its best from 3,000 to 5,000 rpm, when its acceleration is the most fearsome and the soundtrack the most hair-raising. But for the most fun, select “Sport” on the new programmable automatic, play up and down games with the instant-on paddle shifters and revel in the thrust.
Through the narrow country curves, the Aston feels like a whopper of a car, but its needle-precise steering—thankfully still hydraulically assisted instead of electric—and low-roll cornering gives it an agility that belies its size.
You could say it vanquishes every bend it blasts through, conquering and defeating every straightaway. Somehow, badging this car DB10 just wouldn’t sound the same.