Aston Martin Vanquishes demons
It looks stunning and sounds even better: Aston Martin's Vanquish is a varrom with a view
It may boost a stunning audio system with 13 speakers including two acoustic lens, but when you’re in the Aston Martin Vanquish the only soundtrack you want to listen to its stunning V12 engine.
Relaunched in 2012, the sports coupe replaced its six-speed automatic transmission with an all-new eight-speed transmission last year.
The ZF transmission, called Touchronic III by Aston Martin, has been transaxle mounted with faster and smoother gearshift. There are four transmission modes — Drive, Drive Sport, Paddle Shift and Paddle Shift Sport — with the system adapting to the driver’s style.
The new transmission is paired with the awe-inspiring 6-litre, V12 engine producing 424kW of power and 630Nm of torque.
The Vanuish has a silhouette to keep the most fervent Bond fan happy
This combination makes the Vanquish faster with a top speed of 324km/h and 0-96km/h in 3.6seconds but its CO2 output has dropped by 10 per cent to under 300g to help with the ever-tightening Euro regulations.
But on our shores, Kiwis are already fans of the Aston Martin brand with interest piqued for the eight-speed Vanquish.
Priced from $435,000, Driven’s exclusive first drive model was specced up to total $468,001 with extras including 10-spoke alloys on the 20in tyres and the square-sided Black One-77 steering wheel (priced at nearly $2000).
The stunning, sculpture-like shape of the 1800kg Vanquish hasn’t changed — with the large bonnet, long mouth-like grille and deep front spoiler creating an impactful road presence.
Inside the car keeps its cockpit styling with a long V-shaped area for all the controls, rather than a cluttered dash, plus a retractable 6.5in LCD screen.
My test model had the option of two rear passenger seats ($5980) though they were only suitable for handbags, briefcases or primary-school aged kids.
Due to the carbon fibre construction of the rear body, the boot has an admirable 368 litres. But luxury vehicles in this segment are officially measured by ‘golfbag capacity’, with the Vanquish supercar easily fitting two bags.
The car keeps its cockpit style with a long V-shaped area for the controls
After spend quality time with the Vanquish it’s easy to understand why Kiwis love Aston Martins. It’s an understated luxury brand — until you insert the car’s button key into the dash, hit the ‘D’ mode and that V12 engine roars into life.
Then any sedate, “please don’t look at me” appearance disappears. Instead the Vanquish snarls as it moves through the first two gears causing heads to turn — probably involuntarily!
The visual impact of the Vanquish, as well as to the intoxicating rumble of the V12 engine, had a couple of tourists clap as I pulled out of Driven’s inner-city Auckland carpark, though as the car is aligned with 007, they may have assumed my passenger was James Bond.
And I had an ever-increasing lineup of colleagues and friends wanting to be a passenger — with my favourite spectator route going through St Marys Bay motorway tunnel.
Windows down, stereo off, from 50km/h a light tap of the accelerator had us whip up to the signposted 70km/h and the exhaust notes echo around the tunnel, causing spontaneous laughter from me and my passengers.
The boot has plenty of spece to fit two-golfbags.
But the best time was when I ditched the hangers-on, waited for Auckland’s motorway system to quieten and headed out to let the Vanquish loose to show its abilities rather than being a show pony.
The rear-wheel Vanquish is built for the open roads so I replaced the comfort suspension mode with sport and let the transmission shift smoothly and fast through the gears as I sat in the fast lane, overtaking weary commuters heading home.
And wannabe Lewis Hamiltons in utes, who seriously rated themselves to have the horsepower to overtake the Vanquish.
Fearing an instant loss of my licence if I pandered to their attempts to race me, I turned off the motorway and hit winding country roads, moving in manual mode via the steering wheel paddles and relishing the sound of the exhaust at each transmission downshift.
The next day I told a colleague about my encounters on the motorway with boy racer-ute drivers trying to beat me.
“If you’re driving an Aston Martin Vanquish, you’re already a winner,” said my colleague.
Laughing, I agreed with his summation — and left the office to again enjoy that Vanquish engine soundtrack.
ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH
ENGINE: 6-litre, V12
PRICE: From $435,000
PROS: Stunning sound, excellent performance, understated style
CONS: Optional rear seats too small, pesky boy racers