The Verdict: Aston Martin Vanquish
Beauty and the beast proves an irrestible package
Saturday 06 September 2003
Engine: 6.0 litre, V12, 460bhp;
Performance: 190mph, 0-60 in 5.3 secs, 16.9mpg;
Worth considering: N/a.
Because of what I do for a living, and I am not ashamed to admit it in public, I often get asked what my dream car is.
You might imagine that, by now, having written about cars for a good few years and spending as much time as I do looking at cars, thinking about cars and driving cars, that question might have begun to grate.
Far from it. In fact, I still struggle to refine my lust list down to a garage of 20, let alone one, and so I usually end up giving a lecture on the pros and cons of most of the sports and saloon cars of the past 50 years, with predictably glassy-eyed, middle-distance stares as a result. Oh, I'm a party animal, me. Top of every guest list.
Luckily, Aston Martin have come to my rescue and given me a succinct response for future use: My present dream car is the Vanquish. Why? Simple: no other car combines beauty, presence, quality, class, performance, comfort, breeding and usability in such an irresistible package. Like Ms Littlewood, right, I could imagine I might tire of commuting in a Ferrari, but the Aston is a more friendly daily drive.
If you are considering buying a Vanquish, a member of your staff has most probably also arranged test drives in the Ferrari Maranello, Lamborghini Murcielago, the new Bentley Continental GT and the forthcoming Mercedes McLaren SLR.Of these, the Mercedes will undoubtedly trounce the Aston in performance, the Lamborghini will turn more heads in Casino Square and the Bentley will save you £50,000. But I suspect none will offer the lasting satisfaction of Vanquish ownership.
Mr Larsen's quibbles about inconsistent interior design are valid. If TVR can tailor unique knobs and stalks for cars that cost a third of the Vanquish price, why does Aston need to cadge plebeian bits from Fords and Volvos? I hear future Astons will be changed. About time.
But no other car sounds this magnificent; few others reward familiarisation so fulsomely, and no other car has such a sexy name. I am prepared to auction my teeth to the highest bidder. Which just leaves a shortfall of £163,995.
Jane Littlewood, 35, sales operations director, from Wilmslow, Manchester
Usual car Mercedes CLK Cabriolet
"I thought it would be a real boys' car but I loved it, and now I've driven it I would say it would definitely appeal to women. It has a soft style, almost feminine-looking. After I got the hang of the gearshift it was easier than a manual. If you owned it, journeys would be about enjoying the car rather than going places. I would rather have this than a Ferrari. You could use this as an everyday car. When you see how much dedication and effort has gone in to building this I would say it is worth the money, although it is a lot of cash. There is such passion in this car."
Christopher Blake, 51, company director, from Sindham, Bedfordshire
Usual car Audi S4
"The performance is staggering; just a quick squirt of the throttle takes you well over the speed limit. The ride quality is extremely good for a car with this road-holding. It feels so sure-footed and the brakes inspire such confidence but there would be times when I would prefer to have a manual change. But you would have to be the kind of person who has spent £10m on your house to be able to justify the price. Think of the wonderful cars you could buy for £100,000 less. In reality, I would probably have a 911 and pocket the £70,000 extra. This is more of a compromise. It is also disappointing to see the Ford bits inside."
Sebastian Sejer Larsen, 25, graphic designer from Cambridge
Usual car Citroen DS
"I felt comfortable and in control. You could use this every day, which you can't say of a lot of sports cars. The sound and feel when it hits 5,000rpm is unbelievable. It is like Clark Kent in the phone booth, you feel your clothes transforming into one of Bond's Brioni suits. The acceleration is breathtaking, although the pedal seemed bouncy. The semi-automatic transmission is smooth and takes less getting used to than you would think. The mid-section of the dashboard is way too obtrusive. Some of the materials seem cheap; it is all a bit inconsistent. But outside, it is one of the most beautiful sports cars since the late Sixties, without being retro."
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