The best looking Aston Martin? Here is NZ's only Vanquish Zagato
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Which manufacturer has the most beautiful model range in 2017?
Even without my biases and your biases on what beauty in the automotive world, it's a complicated question to raise. Car design used to be much closer to the blue-sky ideals of designers and manufacturers. Quite a ways removed from the acres of compromise that manufacturers need to meet today. They must align with endlessly particular safety regulations, they must utilize all sorts of technology that few of us really want.
And everyone apart from the most ardent supercar makers simply must make a gosh darn SUV.
Yet, somehow, even with all of these freedom-choking limits, manufacturers still produce beautiful cars all the time. And none produce more than Aston Martin. There are two kinds of people; those who think all modern Astons are all beautiful, and those who think all modern Astons look exactly the same. While I consider myself a firm member of the former camp, the latter camp does occasionally have a point.
Which is part of why Zagato's Aston Martin spin-offs tend to strike a popular chord with people. The Italian coachbuilder's Aston Martin projects can look a bit like the marque's crazed alter ego — often sporting designs with more off-the-wall looks, more Italian influence. Such is the case with this new one; the Vanquish Zagato Coupe.
As previously reported, four different flavours of Vanquish Zagato are being produced. And they're all highly limited, so the chance for you to see one in the metal is extremely remote. Unless, of course, you're one of the thousands of Aucklanders who drive on Great North Road every day. The one and only Vanquish Zagato Coupe is there, sitting in the window of Giltrap Group's incredible new Aston Martin Auckland premises.
There are stats, obviously — 0–97km/h in 3.5 seconds, thanks to the 6.0-litre 441kW V12 we all know and love. But numbers are only so important when the car looks like this one.
I'll come clean here and say I'm generally not an Aston Martin Zagato fan. The way that the conflicting styles marry together has rubbed me up the wrong way in the past. But, this new one is very different. It was very different when the renders were first sent through the internet's airwaves just over a year ago, and it's particularly different having ogled this one in the metal.
A more aggressive set of side skirts, and lines that branch off from the front fender arches make the car look like it's sucking in around its belly — as if it's wearing a corset. Those skirts frame the base of the car; continuing through to the savage front splitter. The red on gold would look tacky and showy on a run-of-the-mill Vanquish, but on this they fit. It looks decadent, like a candy apple wrapped in a golden bow.
Some of the best elements from the standard Vanquish — the louvered bonnet, the buxom rear haunches, the minimalist headlights — remain. They give you just enough evidence to know that this car is still an Aston.
That mouth on the front might be imposing, but it's the rear that signals the biggest changes. It has a much closer resemblance to the DB10 Concept and DB11 than it does the outgoing Vanquish, thanks to its adoption of a lot of AM's emerging design language. The ducktail spoiler that connects the two taillights together is a look that's here to stay on future Astons. No complaints from me on that front.
It's the rear diffuser that deceives. It's more vast, more aggressive than that of the standard Vanquish. Protruding from the bodywork and created in carbon fibre, it looks more GT race car than GT car. With the carbon acting as a surrogate for body-coloured bumper, it gives the car the appearance of having a blunter rear overhang. And the Vanquish Zagato looks lighter and more athletic because of it.
The inside is a different story entirely.
Ever since the 2004 DB9, Aston's interiors have looked pretty much the same. A traditional center stack topped by a pair of rectangular vents falls away on a relatively steep angle, while framed by two strong protruding ridges of rich leather on either side.
It's a look that's aged well, but in today's age of tech and touch screens it also looks a little old fashioned. This Zagato utilizes the same interior, but with a few additional touches. Most of it is two-tone red and black; red dominating the door cards, engulfing the seats, and threaded through the black paneling on the dash.
And all of that's fine, until you get to the Zagato logo that's embossed throughout. It's on the doors, all four seats, and even on the roof liner.
It's been a point of contention whether these are a tasteful addition to the Zagato. I mean ... on the plus side it's unlikely anyone who gets to ride in or drive one of these will forget exactly what it was, though at the same time it feels like such an unnatural fit next to the subtle lines and switch gear everywhere else in the interior.
I'm almost reminded of those who are proud of their signatures; always scrawling their mark on every document they're given to sign in the largest and most theatrical way.
Maybe I'm just trying to find fault in perfection, because as far as I'm concerned this is the best looking Vanquish ever made. A bit of tall poppy syndrome.
It's irrelevant anyway. This Zagato already has an owner. Like it, love it, or neither; its public placement is merely temporary until the owner gets to take it home. From there, it's most probably going to face the life that most low-quantity sports cars and supercars lead. One of isolation, where it may be locked in a shed for years and years, out only for the occasional drive to remember the time that Aston Martin and Zagato created something utterly beautiful.
Maybe I'm wrong, though. I hope I am.