I cannot believe I am driving an Aston Martin Vanquish, I thought to myself as I glanced at the speedometer needle quickly passing 100 MPH! This thought instantly brought me back to reality, as I didn’t want to be the 1st person to “permanently modify” one of the pre-production prototypes on hand for the VIP media to drive at the New Orleans Motorsports Park recently. The 2014 Vanquish is based on the latest generation VH chassis which is more advanced, lighter and stronger than the previous version. This is in addition to putting to good use quite a bit of the engineering lessons learned from the ultra-exotic One-77 on the Vanquish, making it a much better vehicle than the DBS ever could be.
What a difference eight years make, from the 1st generation Vanquish that was offered from 2001 to 2007 to the 2014 version, everything is refreshingly new except the name. Viewing the Vanquish for the 1st time, you can’t help but to notice the attention to detail in every surface of the body. The use of carbon fiber is everywhere, including places you will never see. The elegant and understated design lines now include several important aerodynamic enhancements that make the Vanquish a serious, high-speed GT car.
Entering the cockpit, you notice what is not there, namely, most of the busy switchgear of the recently discontinued DBS. The look now is more minimalist, practical and modern. The gear selectors are still placed prominently between the slot for the “Emotion Control Device”. For us mortals, it is Aston-speak for the key. Navigation, sound system and climate controls are night and day improvement over the tiny, incomprehensible buttons used in the DBS. The center dash shape and design is clearly inspired by the One-77, with simple and elegant knobs and switches. Regrettably, I only had a very brief chance to test these as the event was track focused and fast paced. Seats are a stylish affair, featuring cross-stitched leather on the bottom and back cushions. There is a practical, luxuriously appointed parcel shelf behind the seats that easily fit a mid-sized pair of swank leather weekenders. As an option, the Vanquish can be ordered with 2 + 2 seating. Throughout the interior, there is what seems like acres of leather, carbon fiber, piano black, red or Ice Mocha finishes, which create an understated yet modern finish to a beautiful cockpit. Of course, Aston Martin will gladly do a bespoke edition that is only limited by the credit limit of your Black American Express. My favorite color and finish is the optional “Cayucos Orange” satin paint with a $6,380 price tag and thorough set of instructions for its difficult upkeep.
Starting the Vanquish is similar to the rest of the lineup of models, the drill is, press the “Key” and hold it in. After a split-second delay, the high-speed starter whines and the V12 roars to life with a delicious sound that few cars will ever achieve. The exhaust is raspy and aggressive, giving only but a hint of the performance under the hood. There are several steering wheel controls, which offer different settings for the suspension, steering and overall assertiveness of the Vanquish. We had the chance to try out all of them and surprisingly made the Vanquish come to life as a truly versatile GT. In normal mode, the car behaves luxury-like, with minimal exhaust growl and easy throttle and steering feel. Selecting the “Sport” setting, the dynamics tighten up and inputs become sharper. Selecting “Track” opens up the maximum performance available, one which transforms the Vanquish into a formidable track car. Exhaust is loudest on this setting, surely, one that will get you noticed by your entire neighborhood.
Brakes are simply breathtaking, even after some repeated heavy track applications. Cornering is surprisingly neutral, especially for a vehicle this size. I had to remind myself several times I was in a GT and not in a full-on race car! The blend of technology input feels seamless, with just the right amount of intervention from the electronics yet very easy to drive quickly and aggressively on the track.
I came away with a great experience, having driven one of the best GT cars out there, even if it was only for a day. For those lucky few that actually have the 2014 Vanquish on their short list, it’s a car that won’t disappoint, regardless of the use the owner has for it. For the rest of us, it will be a treat to just simply seeing one driving by on the road.
For those that think sequels are usually not as good as the original, they haven’t driven the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish.
Available: 1st Quarter 2013
Curb Weight: 3,833 Pounds
Engine: 6 liter, V12, 565 HP
Options: Mainly cosmetic. Different wheels and finishes, One-77 square sided steering wheel, center dash piano or carbon fiber finishes, exhaust tip colors.