Farewell then, old Aston Martin. While everyone turns their eyes to the DB11 and the glorious new future of Aston – new engines, new chassis, new design, new ethos – the old order is not disappearing without a fight.
JAN 05th 2017
Review: Aston Martin Vanquish S
Hello, then, new Vanquish S. What you see before you is the last naturally aspirated V12 from Aston, the last car built on the existing aluminium architecture, the last Aston to use the flyaway rally-style handbrake… a series of lasts, packaged in what still looks like an extremely handsome, contemporary super GT.
While the front has those familiar, huge Vanquish headlights, new aerodynamics from chief engineer Matt Becker mean there is a very low front splitter while the tight-lipped rear with its funky LED tail lights gets a spoiler and quad exhausts poking through exposed carbon fibre. The S version looks markedly more aggressive than the “bog-standard” Vanquish, and chief designer Marek Reichman has done a great job of contemporising a shape that has been around since 2001. The uprated V12 now gets 595bhp at 7,000rpm, which means this front-engined two-plus-two really forms the border between GT and supercar territories.
Slot the huge crystal key fob into the central slot (Aston has thankfully ditched the “Emotional Control Unit” nomenclature) and the engine fires into life under that low, wide bonnet. This is not a car for shy, retiring folk – it makes an enormous noise both during acceleration and deceleration. Push the Sport button on the steering wheel with its odd flattened sides, and the noise is even more urgent, with loud roars between the whippet-quick gearchanges from the revised ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The other Sport button on the steering wheel changes the adaptive damper settings, and it’s here, with the suspension, that Becker has worked much magic. The ride is noticeably tauter than the standard Vanquish, but without stiffening the dynamics of what is still a GT at heart. The car feels more poised, more sensitive and quicker to respond to surface changes.
The steering is also much improved, with more torque loaded into the input, for something to push against through the corners. The feedback is extraordinary and helps counter the slight hesitancy about where exactly you are placing such a large car on narrow roads. Becker has also skimmed off much of the Vanquish’s tendency to understeer, so a tightening bend on a country lane is now a joy instead of a challenge.
The interior of our test Vanquish S had an extraordinary Filograph quilted leather, with white stitching spraying out from each corner of the roof lining and all over the doors and seats. You’ll either love it or hate it – we thought it was a fitting statement for this aggressive, overtly performance-orientated car. The familiar centre fascia was finished in the optional Satin Chopped Carbon Fibre, and thankfully the smart Aston dash of old remains – analogue clear dials sweeping plain gunmetal-grey dials. Understated, subtle and so very Aston.
This is a car to bring a tear to the eye, for it really is the last celebration of a car company that no longer exists. And many would say, thank goodness for that, for the DB11 is a better car, in every sense, and sets the right tone for Chief Executive Andy Palmer and his plans for the future.
But there’s a bit of us that mourns the passing of the old and hopes that this Vanquish S becomes a collector’s item, preserved to show the youth of tomorrow what a British V12 GT looked and sounded like in its pomp: bloody glorious.
Price from: £199,950
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