All Time High
Aston Martin's nearly perfect GT flagship.
After Saturday's Euro 2020 finale and England's embarrassing defeat, I thought about whether or not I should review a British car this week. Honestly, I shouldn't, considering you lot beat my home of Germany, but as my hand hovered towards a yet revealed BMW, it ended up resting on today's car of choice. So here we are and I'll give you one England, at least you know how to make a proper grand tourer.
In my mind, Aston Martin has reigned as the undisputed king of the luxury grand tourer, with their long, sleek shapes, and their lack of fear of adding extra cylinders when necessary. But for the longest period of time, from about 2004 to 2014, the company seemed frozen in time, building most of its cars on its VH Platform, an excellent platform in its own right, but also one that had been far eclipsed by their rivals since their debut. However, by the 2010s, things had shifted in the offices at Aston Martin: they'd been freed from their shackles of Ford Motor Company and were now flying free. If they were going to make an impression of change, it was now or never, and the first stop on righting the train was an all new flagship.
In 2012, Aston Martin rolled out its first concept for its upcoming halo car, the AM 310, at an event in Lake Como Italy. It was a completely new design, using elements of cars that came before, while looking forward to the future of what Aston Martin would represent. The car went further into development, becoming what would essentially be the VH platform's swan song, a grand tourer that balanced power and luxury. What it would become, was the all-new Vanquish.
Bringing back a name not seen since 2007, the Vanquish was an instant hit with reviewers and jet-sets alike, who praised its spaceship-like design and gentleman-like performance. For the more performance-minded, however, Aston Martin would soon follow up with the far more brash and supercar-like Vanquish S in 2017, which would mark the definitive end of the VH platform, whose main torchbearers, the DB9 and Vantage, were already being replaced.
The idea of the new Vanquish's design came from a blend of its predecessor, the 2007 DBS V12, and Aston's then-halo, the One-77, creating an extremely curvaceous design that almost looked alien in comparison to its contemporary Aston stablemates. In my opinion, it was a definitive sign of things to come, as many Aston Martin design cues have followed what the Vanquish set up on its debut and has aged rather amazingly.
One of the most notable changes to the Vanquish S over the standard model was the upgraded aerodynamic package, featuring a new front splitter, side strakes, and rear fascia, often finished in bright contrasting colors like the yellow seen on this Kopi Bronze example.
The standard Vanquish benefitted from Aston Martin's familiar 5.9L V12 (uprated on the car to 6 even liters just for aesthetic affect), and the Vanquish S is no different, albeit with a 30 horsepower boost over the standard, making 595 bhp. 0-60 times were clocked at 3.5 seconds, and the car would go on to a 201 mph top speed. The Vanquish would unfortunately be the first Aston Martin mainstream production car without an available manual transmission, and although the ZF gearboxes were well-regarded for their performance, it alienated a lot of traditional enthusiasts.
Inside the cockpit, you would find the typical Aston Martin story: rich leather, sturdy materials, and excellent fit and finish. The Vanquish would feature a lot of all-new design cues for the interior, including an all-new radio and HVAC control set-up that matched the forward thinking design of the exterior. You didn't need go far to find its connections to the DB9 and Vantage, however, as the steering wheel and gauge cluster were mostly borrowed from those cars. Regardless, the Vanquish's cockpit was highly detailed with all the touches that new and returning Aston Martin customers would expect.
The Vanquish was a modest hit for Aston Martin, going on to sell a few thousand of both the standard and S variants during its six year production run. Aston would also release a few additional special editions of the car, including a Centenary edition to mark the manufacturer's 100th anniversary, as well as a special edition with a new body by Zagato, who have worked often with Aston Martin through the decades.
Those interested in acquiring a Vanquish will be expected to cough up around $140,000 (£101,000) for a well kept model. However, unless you hit it big with the lottery, you might not have much of that to play with, perhaps this AutoArt 1/18 would be more up your alley. I think the pictures speak for themselves in terms of how well-built and well-detailed it is.
In terms of Aston Martin's VH platform's final act, I don't think you could do it any better than the Vanquish, a fine grand tourer through and through. I know Aston Martin isn't done with the Vanquish name, but I feel like we'll never see a car that wears its nameplate that was quite like this one, and one that signified a rebirth for the brand quite like this. For a brand that has hovered near death so many times in its lifetime, I can't think of a more graceful way to claw yourself back out again.
And hey England, sorry about the whole football thing. Maybe it'll finally come home next time. :)