Aston Martin Vanquish review
The Aston Martin Vanquish is a beautifully-designed supercar with a storming 6.0-litre V12 engine
Aston Martin cars are always glamorous, but the Vanquish flagship is more desirable than most, thanks to its One-77 inspired styling, opulent interior and gorgeous carbon fibre body.
It has more cabin and boot space than the DBS model it replaced, thoroughly updated on-board infotainment systems, and it’s safer and more economical too.
Not that economy will matter much once you fire up the Vanquish’s magnificent 6.0-litre V12 though, or when you unleash its mighty performance via the new eight-speed gearbox and superbly judged sporting chassis.
However you look at it, the Aston Martin Vanquish is a tour de force – which is exactly how it should be.
If you want to feel like James Bond every time you go for a drive, the Aston Martin Vanquish is the only option for you. Based on a bonded aluminium chassis, with all carbon-fibre bodywork (a first for Aston), this 2+2 seat DBS replacement is the most advanced mainstream model the British carmaker has ever produced.
The name Vanquish has been used by Aston before, as it was the model name for the luxury grand tourer that replaced the second generation (and short-lived) Virage in 2001. However that first generation Vanquish was replaced by the DBS, which arrived in 2007.
The current Vanquish was seen first as the AM310 Concept car at the famous Villa D’Este Concorso D’Eleganza in Italy, before a production version was announced. It features exterior styling clearly evolved from the Aston Martin DBS while also taking design cues from the Aston Martin the One-77 hypercar -which by 2012 was just coming to the end of its extremely limited production run.
The interior was completely redesigned from the DBS too, and also takes its inspiration from the One-77 featuring touch sensitive buttons and typically high quality materials throughout.
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Under the bonnet is a development of Aston Martin’s long-serving and glorious sounding 6.0-litre V12, which produced 565bhp in cars built up until the end of 2014, and 568bhp afterwards.
That’s the point at which Aston introduced a range of powertrain and chassis upgrades, including a new eight-speed auto gearbox and stiffer suspension.
Power goes to the rear wheels, and the Vanquish was the first Aston Martin to be available with launch control.
As well as the standard coupe, the Vanquish is also available in convertible spec as the Vanquish Volante.
Engines, performance and drive
Despite its carbon-fibre skin, the Vanquish is only 1kg lighter than the DBS it replaced, so it feels fairly similar from behind the wheel. But that’s no bad thing. There’s an extra 58bhp to play with from the 568bhp 6.0-litre V12, which means storming acceleration – especially at high-revs – while the exhausts emit a deep-chested roar. A six-speed auto comes on cars before the late-2014 updates, at which point an excellent eight-speed auto was introduced. It drops the 0-62mph time from 4.3 seconds to 3.6 seconds, while top speed is an impressive 201mph.
Three stage adjustable dampers, with noticeable leaps between each mode, allow you to tailor the Vanquish’s character – from comfortable long-distance GT to a rock-solid track car with just a push of a button. The updates in 2014 brought stiffer suspension settings but the Vanquish remains surprisingly comfortable. There is a fair bit of tyre roar though but it’s surprisingly relaxing for such a potent supercar and the sound from the exhausts in sport mode is fantastic.
The 6.0 Aston Martin V12 is legendary, if nothing else for its glorious soundtrack, which could famously be made even more entertaining (or intrusive!) by removing a single fuse that controlled the exhaust bypass – a feature designed to muffle the noise at lower revs.
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That isn’t an option on the Vanquish, as the fuse controlling the exhaust bypass also protects the anti-lock brake system. However owners are able to buy a sports exhaust instead.
That disappointment aside, Vanquish owners are likely to have few other complaints about their engine. It makes its full power at a heady 6,750rpm and a walloping 630Nm of torque at 5,500rpm, both of which factors encourage you to use the full rev-range.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is the rear transaxle type for optimum weight distribution, and it features super-quick shifts in just 130milliseconds, adding to the powertrain’s brilliance.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
You don’t buy an Aston if you’re worried about fuel consumption, but some progress has been made in this area. Variable-valve timing, a new fuel pump and a larger intake manifold have increased power but improved fuel consumption, too, by around 10 per cent. Even so the Vanquish will cost huge amounts to run, with servicing, spare parts, insurance and of course fuel bills way above the norm even for a supercar.
The updated Vanquish (introduced late in 2014) improved economy by a further 11 per cent and took the official cruising economy figure to 31mpg, which helps on those long motorway journeys.
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Rivals like the Mercedes SL65 offer marginally lower running costs despite a lower price, while Ferrari offer a seven year complimentary servicing offer than makes Aston ownership seem needlessly expensive.
Due to its incredible performance and astonishing price, the Vanquish is in the most expensive insurance category. Best be on good terms with your broker.
The list price of a new Vanquish is knocking on £200k, but as most owners don’t settle for standard spec you can bet even the most miserly orders comfortably breach that figure. With the Aston Martin Q bespoke service, the sky’s the limit for expensive interior trim and paint treatments.
It would be nice to think therefore, that your Vanquish will retain a good chunk of its value in your ownership. However used car value experts CAP reckon you’ll lose 55 per cent of the purchase price on a three-year/30,000 mile ownership pattern – which has to hurt, even if you can afford it. A Ferrari 488 GTB would hold 68 per cent of its value under similar circumstances, says CAP, although the Ferrari FF and F12 Berlinetta depreciate at a similar rate to the Aston.
Interior, design and technology
For an Aston Martin to succeed it has to look good, and the Vanquish sticks closely to the formula used by its predecessors. The classic low-slung coupe proportions are hard to fault, while a smaller front grille, carbon-fibre splitter and LED running lights freshen up the front end. Prominent side strakes run down the side of the car, while a gorgeous one-piece carbon-fibre spoiler is part sculpture, part aerodynamic aid.
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On the inside, the cabin has a typically plush, hand-trimmed finish and an all-new centre console design. Touch-sensitive buttons vibrate when pressed, while all infotainment functions, including sat-nav and stereo controls, are integrated into the pop-up central screen.
Unusually the steering wheel is squared-off on either side but it works well and the cabin is palatial as you would expect from a car that costs almost £200,000. When the Vanquish was upgraded at the end of 2014 Aston introduced a few new interior trim colours and options, and if you order a car with the standard ‘hourglass’ quilting on the Bridge of Weir leather upholstery you’ll be sitting on an incredible million stitches.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Vanquish boasts a suitably lavish suite of infotainment features, controlled via a joystick on the console and with a 6.5-inch pop-up LCD display at the top of the fascia. Sat-nav and routing is provided by Garmin, and Bluetooth audio and phone streaming are standard. The reversing camera is an optional extra, although we expect most owners to consider it an essential.
The Vanquish’s audio system is especially noteworthy, as the car features a Bang and Olufsen set-up with 1,000 Watts of music and 13 speakers dotted around the cabin. Apparently 400 hours of sound tuning were required to perfect the tone, which adjusts dynamically in response to ambient cabin noise.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Compared to some supercars, the Vanquish is actually fairly practical - as long as you pack light. Aston Martin calls it a ‘Super GT’, and compared to the old DBS there’s definitely more room for passengers. The dashboard has been moved forward by 20mm compared with the DBS, the pedals have been shifted forward too, and the front seats moved back. The result is improved leg, shoulder and headroom.
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Cosseted in such an opulent interior and with a decently supple chassis, a Vanquish driver and his passenger will be comfortable for hours.
The new infotainment system gives the Vanquish extra practicality points too, as it’s much clearer and easier to use than the old Aston Martin system.
The Vanquish coupe measures 4,728mm end-to-end, but it’s also 1,912mm wide, which can make things interesting in narrow city streets or tight country lanes.
The Mercedes SL is more compact at 4,631mm x 1,871mm, but the (four-seat) Ferrari FF takes up even more room on the road at 4,907mm x 1,953mm.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The Vanquish is described as a 2+2, but if you want to be more comfortable the cramped rear seats can be removed at no extra cost. This creates an additional storage area and we reckon most buyers are likely to choose this option as the back seats really are only suitable for very small children, and even they wouldn’t be on a longer journey. You can of course put small bags and shopping on the back seats if they’re left in situ, but you don’t get as much room that way.
The Vanquish coupe claims a 368-litre boot – that’s 60 per cent more than the DBS – and that’s quite an impressive number for a GT, and apparently enough for two sets of golf clubs. In comparison the Mercedes SL provides a whopping 504-litres, although that reduces to 364 if you drop the roof. The Vanquish Volante convertible has 279-litres – roof up or down.
Reliability and Safety
Reliability was a major issue back when the original Vanquish went on sale in 2001, but Aston has made big strides since then. The 6.0-litre V12 is proven technology, as is the six-speed automatic gearbox and the newer eight-speed which has been slightly reengineered by Aston but is used throughout the industry with an excellent reliability record. Hopefully the Vanquish will see an improvement in the other traditional weakness for the brand - faulty electrics.
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Also on the positive side, Aston Martin dealers have a pretty good reputation for customer service. That means if you do have problems, you’ve a good chance of getting them satisfactorily resolved.
Aston Martin reckons 58 per cent of all the cars it has ever built are still on the road too, which must account for something.
On the safety front, Dynamic Stability Control and Positive Torque Control, both fitted as standard, help to contain the engine’s power and keep you on the road and while the Vanquish will never be crash tested by EuroNCAP the carbon fibre body work has a much greater tensile strength than conventional materials. The VH platform underneath the car has been reengineered for greater strength and torsional stiffness too.
If you do come unstuck, there are curtain side head airbags, dual-stage front airbags, seatbelt load limiters and two pelvis and thorax seat-mounted airbags. Indeed Aston Martin says the Vanquish is the safest car it’s built yet.
The Aston Martin Vanquish comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, which is similar to most rivals. You can buy a range of extended warranty packages, too.
Most Aston Martin buyers accept the need for exemplary servicing, and therefore don’t flinch at the cost. Which is a good thing, as Aston Martin dealer labour rates don’t come cheap.