Aston Martin Vanquish
Can Aston Martin's new Vanquish make our reviewer feel like 007?
Engine: 5,935c, V12 cylinders, 48 valves, 573bhp
Transmission: Six-speed automatic gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 183mph, 0-62 in 4.1sec, 19.6mpg, CO2 335g/km
It had to be silver, of course. Only then could I indulge any James Bond fantasies that might squeeze past the steely objectivity by which I should be assessing the new Aston Martin Vanquish. The revered British marque has, again, provided transport for 007 in the imminent Bond flick Skyfall, though I don't know if that will have the ability to blend invisibly into its surroundings as the last big-screen Aston Martin did.
Even if it can, we should still be able to hear it, because a 5.3 litre, 573bhp V12 engine is hard to keep quiet.
The Vanquish is meant to be the maddest, baddest Aston Martin of all, apart from the rare and ultra-expensive One-77 which no journalist has yet driven; oh, and the limited-production V8 Vantage Zagato. There's also the V12 Vantage, which uses an earlier version of this Vanquish V12 in the smaller body normally reserved for the gentler V8 engine. That sounds quite mad, too.
A few ifs and buts there, then. But the important thing to know is that this Vanquish conforms to much the same template as all Aston Martins since the millennium, which means a powerful front-mounted engine, a structure made from extruded, welded and bonded aluminium, and a sleek body of unmistakable visual identity.
It has the hunched look, crisp edges and side strake spearing back from the wing vent already seen on the One-77, and all the outer panels bar the bumpers are of lightweight carbonfibre, whose glossy weave is exposed around the body's lower perimeter. Under the bonnet is a V12 engine of unchanged size but new components, able to breathe better than before and deliver more muscle at low speeds as well as that useful 573bhp at full chat.
Inside, the aura is familiar to anyone who has looked at the interior of a recent Aston Martin, but calmer thanks to a new centre console in which the former rows of daunting buttons have been ousted by touchscreen panels. There are two tiny, largely pointless rear seats, and a boot much bigger than the old DBS's.
I expected a fire-spitting, Tarmac-tearing monster when I set off in the Vanquish, but that is not its way. Its engine sounds magnificently crisp and rich, but the evenness of its vast power delivery makes even the searing 4.1-second 0-62mph time seem less dramatic than it should. Even the launch control function, which automatically gives the best getaway, feels oddly anti-climactic as the Vanquish just squeezes itself into hyperspace.
The automatic gearbox is partly why; its shifts are quick and smooth, whether self-generated or driver-triggered via the manual paddleshift controls, but they blunt the drama. There's a Sport mode, but it makes little difference beyond a slight alertness increase and ringing ears from the exhaust-silencer bypass.
It feels good in the turns, though, with quick, tactile steering and the fabulous balance typical of a powerful rear-wheel- drive car. The Vanquish soon takes on the nimbleness of a smaller machine, but none of the three suspension modes – Normal, Sport (again) and Sport Track – can quite cope with big undulations.
That's the only time the Vanquish feels unruly. Otherwise it's a big, beautiful, beautifully built powerhouse and a very appropriate Bond-flavoured grand tourer, but to me it's too close to what I expect the forthcoming new DB9 to be like. It should be a touch more raw. Shaken it can do, on a poor road. I'd just like to be stirred a little more.
Life & Style blogs
Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'
NHS medics are being lured away to Australia by more money, status and sunshine, survey suggests
Xiaomi Mi4: 'Chinese Apple' launches flagship mobile to challenge iPhone
Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Condom couture: Latex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
- 1 Calum Chambers: Southampton's latest example of Generation X-factor
- 2 Crash victims in car flattened by shipping container emerge with just minor injuries
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Joey Barton and Yossi Benayoun become involved in Twitter row over Israel-Gaza conflict
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...