Revving up Aston’s free-breathing V12 Vanquish one last time.
– Los Angeles, California
Among his many words of wisdom, automotive journalism legend David E. Davis, Jr., had a firm belief that everyone should drive (or own) a V12 car at least once in their life. And while the newer crop of turbo and biturbo 12-cylinders are, in their own rights, damn good, I have a feeling David E.’s words are better suited to engines of the naturally aspirated type. Engines like the 6.0-liter V12 under the hood of the Aston Martin Vanquish S.
The free-breathing V12 is a dying breed. When the Vanquish goes out of production, so too will its engine, as Aston Martin looks to turbocharging (and electrification) for its future. So it’s in the spirit of David E. that I drive the pants off Aston’s incredibly gorgeous, super analog, 12-cylinder GT car one last time.
A total powerhouse. Dig into the throttle and unleash a wave of power: 595 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, delivered with total linearity. Without the peaks and valleys of power that plague some turbo engines, you quickly learn exactly where to keep the tachometer needle pegged to stay in the Vanquish’s meaty powerband. Give it hell from a standstill and you’ll hit 60 miles per hour in three and a half seconds. Keep the engine on boil in third and fourth gears and you’ll always have enough thrust to blast out of a corner, a deep, 12-cylinder roar accompanying your every move. The full experience of this engine’s power delivery – the feeling, the sound – is intoxicating.
The joy of analog. I almost forgot how refreshing it is to drive a car with hydraulic steering. There is a heft and a level of feedback to this setup that even the best electronically assisted units cannot match, and it’s this connection with the Vanquish that gives me more and more confidence as I hustle it down winding roads.
Sport and GT. As enjoyable as the Vanquish is to drive fast down a great road, it’s a formidable grand tourer. On the long stretches of freeway that lead out of Los Angeles into the mountains, I’m enjoying a relaxed, comfortable ride, with a huge reserve of power available for zipping around that infamous Left Lane Prius.
Beauty never ages. The Vanquish shape has been around since 2012, itself an evolution of the DBS that debuted in 2007. But it’s still drop dead gorgeous. Stunning to behold, with flowing lines and an aura of elegance, I have no doubt the Vanquish will continue to look smashing for decades to come.
Technology, however, does. The Vanquish wasn’t exactly a technological powerhouse when it debuted, and in this regard, it hasn’t aged well. The infotainment screen is small, with bad graphics, controlled by a series of dials and buttons on the center stack that are often frustrating to use. Even the pushbutton gear selectors, with their large-print greeting-card typefaces, look out of place here. Hell, even the miniscule information display inside the gauge cluster looks 8-bit compared to the beautiful digital displays that are quickly becoming commonplace with high-end automakers. Considering this car’s starting price of over $300,000, you’d be right to expect better.
Louder, lower. Small gripe: This car is too quiet below 3,000 rpm, even with Sport mode activated (it opens the exhaust flaps). Oh sure, once you get cooking there’s a sonorous roar from both engine and tailpipes, but I don’t want to have to rev the crap out of this thing just to hear that sweet roar.
More money, less performance. There’s a whole class of exotics – Audi R8, McLaren 570S and 570GT, Porsche 911 Turbo – that are both quicker and cheaper than this $312,950 Vanquish. I love the exclusivity of an Aston Martin, but it’s certainly worth nothing that you can have a bit more bang for a lot less buck, with equal (or more) head-turning prowess.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com