2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S
Aston Martin's flagship, the Vanquish S, is a high-performance grand tourer that exudes classy British charm and exquisite craftsmanship. While it isn't as quick or cutting-edge as many of its rivals, the Vanquish's timeless good looks and impeccably furnished cabin should prove appealing to buyers who prioritize style and comfort over outright speed.
Those seeking an open-air experience can also opt for the Vanquish S Volante convertible.
With its powerful stance, elegant proportions and trademark Aston Martin grille, the Vanquish S represents a careful evolution of its DBS predecessor's styling. Much of the rest of the car is also directly derived from the DBS, including its lightweight aluminum VH platform and 5.9-liter V12 engine.
That's not to say that there's nothing notably new about the Vanquish S - unlike the DBS, its body is completely built from carbon fiber, helping to improve torsional rigidity by 25 percent. The carbon construction also shaves 150 pounds from the coupe's curb weight, although it still checks in at a somewhat hefty 3850 pounds overall.
A central part of Aston's brand identity since its introduction back in 2000, the V12 has also been upgraded since it resided in the DBS' engine bay. In the Vanquish S, it gains a number of upgrades - including variable valve timing on both cams, a revised intake manifold and larger throttle bodies. It now produces 580 horsepower, an impressive figure in isolation but significantly behind what some competitors offer. Still, when given cane, the big twelve delivers a melodious mechanical roar that must be heard to be appreciated and adds an impressive element of drama to the driving experience.
The only available transmission is a eight-speed automatic that swaps ratios smoothly and delivers precise rev-matched downshifts. It sends power to the rear wheels via a carbon fiber driveshaft and includes a launch control mode - an Aston Martin first - that helps facilitate zero-to-60 mph sprints of 3.6 seconds. Top speed is quoted at 201 mph.
Complementing the Vanquish's dual aluminum control arm suspension are electronically adjustable Active Damping System that offers a choice of Normal, Sport and Track modes. Normal provides sports car-levels of body control along with a stiff but quite livable ride, while Sport firms things up even more and Track is really only suitable for race courses.
Overall, the Vanquish S is surprisingly agile considering its size, but still more of a relaxed grand tourer in character - notwithstanding the bellicose-sounding V12. Its chassis lends itself well to driving long distances in comfort, as does...
...the richly appointed cabin, which coddles with acres of supple leather upholstery that contains no less than one million stitches, according to Aston. A flowing center stack houses user-friendly haptic feedback clusters that control the entertainment and climate control systems, and a simple but graceful three-spoke steering wheel sits in front of the understated four-gauge analog instrument cluster.
Befitting a car that starts just below $300,000, the Vanquish S comes standard with a 1,000-watt, 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, mobile WiFi, heated front seats and a navigation system with a 6.5-inch pop-up screen. Unfortunately, the nav unit is hopeless dated even by economy car standards.
There's plenty of space for driver and passenger alike up front, while the rear cabin area can be fitted with a pair of almost conically tiny seats or a cargo shelf. The trunk can swallow 13 cubic inches of cargo, an impressive amount for such an exotic vehicle.
Highlights from the options list include ventilated front seats, carbon fiber exterior trim and several interior trim treatments. As with other Aston Martin models, the Vanquish S can be further customized through the company's "Q by Aston Martin" service.
All Vanquish S models come standard with dual front, front side and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
As buyers considering the Vanquish S are likely more interested in style and luxury than neck-snapping performance, comparable alternatives include the Bentley Continental GT and Maserati GranTurismo. For willing to trade attention-grabbing looks for corrupting power, the potent but posh Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe could also be worth a look.