Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) review

By Ben Barry 25 October 2012

By Ben Barry

25 October 2012

Yes, it looks like just another DB9 derivative, yet another twist on Henrik Fisker’s 2004 original, but this is the new Aston Martin Vanquish, and there’s a lot more going on than first impressions suggest.

What are the big changes for the Aston Vanquish?

The standout change is the use of carbonfibre for all the body panels, where the other DB9 derivatives have always been skinned in aluminium. This has contributed to a 25% increase in torsional rigidity, and has also given the design team some new possibilities: hence the scalloped roof, the One-77-supercar-style door strakes and the cut-out spoiler in the boot. Don’t expect a huge weight saving, though: the Vanquish is 40kg lighter than the DBS that it effectively replaces, but only 6kg of that is down to the carbonfibre.

Aston has also worked hard to reduce unsprung mass and to put a larger proportion of the Vanquish’s mass between its axles. Hence carbon-ceramic brakes are standard, plus there’s carbonfibre in the rear structure (the boot floor, for instance), while the front chassis structure is 13% lighter than the DBS’s, owing to the use of hollow-cast – not solid-cast – aluminium.

How about inside the Vanquish?

Again, the Vanquish interior feels pretty familiar, but there are some big changes: the centre console is re-designed with touch interfaces and new rotary dials, while the pop-up sat-nav is new too: it’s based on Garmin software, which works pretty well but does feel a little odd in a £190k supercar.

Packaging wizardry means there’s more room too: legroom is up 37mm, shoulder room 25mm, elbow room 87mm and knee room by 50mm. Plus, the dash is pushed back 200mm and, with 368 litres on hand, you’ll get 60% more stuff in the boot.

Presumably the powertrain is now turbocharged, with stop-start and an eight-speed transmission…

Not quite. The naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 soldiers on, though it has been upgraded. There’s a revised block and new heads, plus variable valve-timing on both camshafts, larger throttle bodies, new intake manifold and fully machined combustion chambers. The engine also sits 19mm lower than before, to the benefit of handling.

Power and torque rises from the DBS’s 510bhp and 420lb ft to 565bhp and 457lb ft. That all flows to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.

What’s the Vanquish like to drive?

It’s very, very easy to get into a rhythm driving the Vanquish. It’s incredibly accomplished, and feels far more well-resolved as a package than the DBS did. The suspension is fantastically compliant and keeps body movements in check when you up the ante, the brakes are strong with a well-judged feel, the steering has a meaty, quite feelsome heft and the handling balance is so friendly that the Vanquish feels surprisingly approachable and benign at its limits. The gearbox isn’t anywhere near as fast as the Ferrari F12’s dual-clutcher, but it is smooth and does gel convincingly with the rest of the package.

Ah yes, the Ferrari F12…

The F12 is a key rival for the Vanquish, and its 730bhp monsters the Aston’s 565bhp. So, while the Aston is undeniably a fast car with a V12 soundtrack to die for, it does feel somewhat off the pace in today’s context, with a lethargy to the way it piles on pace, a lack of drama to its progression through the rev range and, at 6800rpm, a noticeably stingy feeling redline.

VERDICT

Yes, there are flaws with the Vanquish, but it’s actually an extremely enjoyable car to both drive fast and to live with on a daily basis, and it feels far better resolved than the DBS, the car it effectively replaces.

Does it beat the Ferrari F12? No, it can’t compete in terms of outright performance and the Ferrari’s interior is nicer, but the Aston is £50k cheaper, more beautiful, just as easy to daily-drive and I wouldn’t try to talk anyone out of picking the Brit over its Italian rival.

Statistics

How much? £189,995
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 5935cc 48v V12, 565bhp @ 6750rpm, 457lb ft @ 5500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.1sec 0-62mph, 183mph, 19.6mpg, 335g/km
How heavy / made of? 1739kg/aluminium/magnesium alloy/carbonfibre
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4720/2067/1294mm

Ratings

Handling 5 out of 5
Performance 5 out of 5
Usability 4 out of 5
Feelgood factor 5 out of 5
CAR's Rating 4 out of 5

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  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review
  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review
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  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review
  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review
  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review
  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review
  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review
  • Aston Martin Vanquish (2012) CAR review