2017 Aston Martin Vanquish S

The dinosaurs didn’t know extinction was coming. They carried on romping and stomping as the sky turned to fire and that meteor took out much of Mexico. In a similar vein, we doubt anyone at Aston Martin has been brave enough to tell the venerable Vanquish that it’s living at the far end of an overdraft of borrowed time. This is a car that sits on an architecture that already has been replaced and which is still powered by the gloriously anachronistic naturally aspirated V-12 that Aston has been using for nearly two decades.


But while the new, turbocharged DB11 is an empirically better car by almost any metric you choose to employ, it can’t match the exclusivity of Aston’s range-topper. Buyers who opt for the Vanquish will have to find an extra $80,000 to get a car with less equipment and less power than its supposedly junior sister DB11, which costs “only” $214,820. But they will find themselves at the pinnacle of Mount Aston. It’s impossible not to see the continued appeal of this grandest of grand tourers, a car that makes a Bentley Continental GT look like something bought at Sears. Now, the Vanquish has been given a final freshening and the deployment of the S badges that Aston reserves for its ultimate incarnations.


The Vanquish S gets more power, although the increase must be well within the margin of variation of the non-S’s engine. A fractionally freer-flowing intake system aims to sharpen the top end in the 5.9-liter V-12 and takes the output rating up 12 horsepower to 580 hp—still 20 horses less than the new twin-turbocharged V-12 in the DB11. Strangely, Aston claims a higher, 595-hp output for the engine in European spec, although it says the engine is in the same state of tune and offers no other explanation.

Close to Screaming

None of this really matters. The Vanquish continues to have a naturally aspirated Aston Martin V-12 that is one of the finest engines in the world. It’s special from the moment it fires into noisy life with a leonine snarl; most automakers who still produce V-12s tune them to sound soft and creamy, but the Vanquish S’s engine is loud and often angry. Its character shifts with both revs and load, sometimes yowling and sometimes—when closing in on its 7000-rpm limiter—close to screaming. Read more...

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29 Dec 2016