2013 ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH REVIEW
What’s Hot: Stunning looks, more accessible torque, sublime steering.
What’s Not: Back seats are a (literal) waste of space, road noise.
X-Factor: Not just a pretty face, a massive presence and a genuinely rewarding drive.
Vehicle Style: High-performance Prestige Coupe.
Price: $471,290 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 14.4L/100km | Fuel tested: 23.5L/100km
The Aston Martin DBS has been Vanquished - quite literally.
Its replacement calls upon a nameplate only in service a few years ago, but the MY13 Vanquish doesn’t just rely on heritage or drop-dead styling to make its case - it has performance in spades.
Power has been bumped. Fuel use has been cut and there's more room inside. It all sounds pretty good, and it has to be - with the One-77 sold out, the Vanquish is now Aston Martin’s flagship.
How well does it hold that flag? Aston chucked us the keys and told us to enjoy ourselves. Who are we to question that?
With our tester optioned with a carbon-fibre background, the new glass buttons with haptic feedback look and feel bang up-to-date. Gone is the analogue clock too (meaning the smell of 'old people' doesn’t exist in these parts).
The contract yellow stitching is perfect; we especially like the Bernoulli-style roof channels echoed on the headlining stitching.
The leather throughout is soft and tactile and wouldn’t be out of place in a Rolls.
The use of plastics has been minimised, yet those that are used feel very nice to touch. With the exception of the warped make-up mirrors (a blight on the entire AM range), the interior quality is outstanding.
Comfort: The Vanquish’s liberated space means it’s easier to get in and out of, as well as giving more head- and shoulder-room for larger drivers.
The standard buckets are extremely comfortable even over long distances, however they don’t look quite as sporty as the previous DBS seats - perhaps to appeal to a (ahem)... wider audience.
The 2+2 seating is a waste of time, given the $7944 cost to install and the fact that not even children fit properly in the back. Best leave that off the build sheet and gain more usable space instead.
Aston’s air-con kept us cool on the 40-degree temps while testing, and the cooled seats also helped immensely. Comfortable? Yes sir.
Equipment: If you’re spending over half-a-million dollars on a car, you want it to have everything you need. Thankfully, it does. Despite the fact that our test car came with nearly $50K worth of options, the Vanquish has a full complement of equipment.
Cruise-control, front and rear parking sensors, a much-improved sat-nav, climate control, heated seats, an amazing 1000W B&O sound system with Bluetooth audio and phone and a stunning glass key – it’s all there.
The only options we’d tick would be cooled seating, and for pure asthetics, the exposed carbon-fibre roof.
Storage: Strangely, there is no glovebox in the Vanquish. When questioned why, we were told it wasn’t required due to the extra space in and around the car.
Compared with the DBS, the dashboard has been pushed forward by 20mm, and there’s increased leg room by 37mm, shoulder room by 25mm, elbow room by 87mm and knee room by 50mm.
There’s a redesigned centre console, which has a cubby box with an armrest lid and magnetic latch. The cubby box offers more than three litres of storage space, with an integrated USB and 12V port.
The boot is a very useful 368 litres, however the back seats can also be used as a storage area when not optioned as a 2+2.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: While the Vanquish is not the quickest coupe on sale, it’s certainly one of the most involving.
With 420kW on tap from its 5.9-litre V12, you’d never accuse it of being tardy. There is a launch control button, but it’s not as violent and dramatic as the name suggests.
Still, it’ll help propel the Vanquish to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds.
But it’s the torque that really impresses. It peaks at 620Nm, but is available so low that it gives the Vanquish un-sportscar-like tractability. It's a joy to drive - unlike some - and as equally happy to noodle around as it is to howl under full power.
While the DB9 and previous DBS needed to be prodded with a stick to come to life, the Vanquish picks up from low revs effortlessly.
But it’s the sound of the V12 that literally resonates. A bass-enriched metallic growl, Aston Martin’s V12 sings to the heavens with a note that you’ll be replaying in your mind for weeks to come.
And with the sport button on the steering wheel, flaps open at 3000rpm so you don’t need to thrash it to enjoy the music.
The sport button also sharpens up gear changes and while it holds onto revs in Drive to give you quicker throttle response, shifting with the paddles is much more satisfying.
The downshift response time is slow in comparison with dual-clutch systems, but the benefit is the ultra smooth changes in full auto.
It’s the steering though that really impresses. With the world’s reliance on electric-steering these days, to feel every tread-block hit the tarmac is absolute bliss.
The weighting is simply perfect (some will find it heavy) but if it’s steering perfection you’re after, the Vanquish is it.
There’s resistance the whole way through the lock, yet it turns in sharply and makes your fingertips feel like they speak ten languages. This is true driver involvement.
Refinement: When twisted into life, the V12 emits a raspy bark that makes your hair stand on end. After that it settles down to a quiet growl that won’t upset the neighbours.
On country roads, however, there is quite a bit of road noise – some extra sound deadening would be of benefit.
Suspension: The Vanquish has fabulously neutral handling that is throttle steerable at the limit, yet it’s not blunt or crashy. Both front and rear axles use sublimely tuned double wishbones (producing superb balance and handling).
On the steering wheel is a damper selection button which switches between three modes: road, sports and track. Unless you’re on a track, to be honest, the road setting offers so much grip and gives such a compliant ride that it’s best to just leave it.
Braking: Carbon-ceramic discs are standard. Like all CC brakes, pedal modulation take a little getting used to when cold, but with a bit of heat in them, pedal feel and speed reduction is fabulous.
With 398mm six-pot fronts and 360mm four-piston rears, braking power is prodigious.
ANCAP rating: Not tested
Safety features: A two-stage deactivation of the ESC means you won’t accidentally overcook it, and there’s brakeforce distribution, brake assist and the full complement of airbags (eight) and seat belt dual-pretensioners with digressive load limiters.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
Service costs: Servicing costs vary according to vehicle usage. Contact your local dealer for more info.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Jaguar XKR-S ($299,000) – Probably the closest in terms of layout, the XKR-S isn’t as good looking, as well-built or as quick. It does sound the part though, and the price is especially tempting. (See XKR-S reviews)
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG ($486,320) – A stonking engine, fabulous build and epic performance sees the SLS AMG being a worthy competitor. And it has the drama of Gullwing doors (see Mercedes-Benz reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There’s no getting around it: the Vanquish is simple beautiful. But the jaw-dropping lines are more than carbon-skin deep.
With effortless flexibility, a brilliant engine (and pants-wetting sound), fabulous ride, and sublime steering, the Vanquish will satisfy anyone cashed up enough looking for a super-premium sporting drive.
It has space, comfort and quality – we tend to agree with Aston Martin’s summation: the “ultimate GT”.
Photography: Jan Glovac.
Filed under: Featured, review, Aston Martin, petrol, coupe, supercar, rwd, automatic, performance, lifestyle, large, Advice, special-featured, enthusiast, 2door, 12cyl, 6a, 4seat, available, aston martin vanquish, 400-500k, 2013my, 450-500k, 250-500k