Aston Martin Vanquish II


Debut: 2012
Maker: Aston Martin
Predecessor: DBS



 Published on 18 Oct 2012 All rights reserved. 

Vanquish Mk2 is not as revolutionary as the original, but it is far better finished, well rounded and easier to live with.


I really want to write about Aston Martin One-77, the 750hp supercar and the most exclusive Aston of this generation. However, its maker is probably not confident that it could match other million-dollar exotica, so it had never invited automotive journalists to test drive it. Without any driving impression, we can only turn our attention to the next best Aston, the new Vanquish.

This is not the first time the name Vanquish is used. The original was introduced in 2001 as the most exotic model of Aston Martin. It employed an advanced chassis made of aluminum spaceframes and carbon-fiber transmission tunnel and windscreen frame. A powerful V12 and semi-automatic gearbox provided propulsion and a top speed of 190 mph. Ian Callum dressed it with a brutal yet advanced design, whose influence is still evident to the current generation Aston Martins. The Vanquish was a revolution to Aston. It still enjoys the highest status in the mind of Aston loyalists today, especially because its successor DBS never quite matched its breakthroughs in technology, concept and style. That is not to say it was perfect. No, it actually had quite a lot of flaws, such as a tricky handling at the limit, hard ride, poor brakes and cheap interior, to name a few.


This must be the best looking Aston since DB7.


The Vanquish Mk2 is quite different. It is not as revolutionary as the original, unquestionably, but it is far better finished, well rounded and easier to live with. You can drive it for long distances from day to day without feeling uncomfortable or tiresome. Its suspension can absorb all kinds of road surfaces without showing twitchiness. Its gearbox, its steering and NVH suppression are all engineered to serve the function of GT. It also provides considerably more cabin and luggage space than the old Vanquish and DBS.

Meanwhile, it is quite a lot more interesting to look and to study than the DBS. Its exterior has enough curves to make the DBS dull, yet it is gentler and more beautiful than the original Vanquish. In my opinion this must be the best looking Aston since DB7. My only complaint is the aggressive front splitters, which shout too loud about their carbon-fiber construction and look out of place with the rest of the design. Obviously, Marek Reichman needs the sense of aggression and performance they brought to distinguish the Vanquish from the lesser DB9 and V8 Vantage models. They managed that task well, if at the price of harmony.


The 4th generation VH platform lifts torsional rigidity by 25 percent.


Many journalists criticized the new Vanquish for differing little from the existing Virage, DB9 and DBS. That is quite true. Aston Martin as an independent small company does not have the resources of Ferrari or Porsche to invest. It has to use money with strong self-discipline, yet to maintain sales momentum it has to roll out new models every a couple of years. That is why we can see only small progress on each iteration. For example, the VH (Vertical Horizontal) platform has been around for 8 years since the birth of DB9. It still serves the new Vanquish, albeit in the 4th generation (note: the 2nd gen being DBS while the 3rd gen being Rapide and Virage). Aston claims new aluminum spaceframe parts and the use of carbon-fiber components have reinforced it, lifting its torsional rigidity by 25 percent compare with DBS. Like the 3rd generation, its NVH suppression is far better than the old car. Moreover, the Vanquish gets full carbon-fiber body panels, including door shells. This offsets part of the weight gained by the NVH engineering and resulted in a kerb weight of 1739 kilograms – about the same as an automatic DBS, although no match with Ferrari F12 (1630 kg). Considering the improved comfort and quality it brought, that is not too bad.

As before, the chassis rides on all double-wishbone suspensions fashioned in aluminum. Adaptive damping system offers 3 stiffness levels to choose from – Normal, Sport and Track. The stability control now offers 3 stages and a very effective launch control is added for the first time to aid standing start. The steering remains hydraulic assisted, but its gearing is quickened from 3.0 to 2.6 turns lock-to-lock. Braking continues to be served by Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes.


You can drive it for long distances from day to day without feeling uncomfortable or tiresome.


The Cologne-built 5935 c.c. V12 is no match with the brand-new direct-injected V12 serving Ferrari F12, of course, but it has finally received some modern touches – variable valve timing! And it is present on both intake and exhaust cams. This can be described as a notable achievement as, you might remember, the Aston V12 was originally derived from a pair of Ford 3-liter Duratec V6 serving the 1996 Taurus! Besides, it gets larger intake manifolds and throttle bodies and uprated fuel pumps to serve a maximum output of 573 hp at 6750 rpm, up 55 horses from the DBS. Maximum torque increases by 37 lbft to a total of 457.

Theoretically this should bring a top speed beyond the DBS' 191 mph. Unfortunately, Aston decided to skip manual gearbox and serves the Vanquish with only a 6-speed Touchtronic automatic transaxle. The official reason is that the ZF automatic is as good as manual yet more versatile. The real cause is no one opted for manual gearboxes these days, and Aston could not afford to engineer a dual-clutch gearbox at the moment. No matter what reason, the outcome is a top speed reduced to 183 mph – or 5 km/h below the magical 300 km/h mark. As a result, we can doubt its claim as a supercar.


At the limit, its behavior is pretty benign, contrasting to the twitchiness of DBS.


However, it is no doubt that the Vanquish is better than its predecessor to drive by some margin. The V12 now provides more torque at lower rpm. Even though it lacks the explosiveness of a real supercar like Ferrari F12 or Lamborghini Aventador, its power delivery is still pleasantly linear and flexible. Its sound is truly magnificent, more delicious than turbocharged motors with less cylinders, especially when Sport mode opens its exhaust by-pass valves. With a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds, you can hardly complain for lack of real-world performance either.

Thanks to the stiffer chassis, better suspension isolation and an engine now mounted 19 mm closer to the ground, the Vanquish shows better balance than the DBS, although it is not as sharp and nimble as the new Ferrari flagship. It provides bags of front-end grip. At lower speeds, it allows you to steer by throttle. At the limit, its behavior is pretty benign, contrasting to the twitchiness of DBS. High-speed stability is excellent, too. The suspension provides good composure in Normal and Sport mode. The former deals well with poor British roads while the latter is excellent for European highways. The ceramic braking is powerful and provides good feedback. The steering is more direct yet more refined than that on the DBS. It filters kickbacks and vibrations, resulting in a composed driving experience that is good for long-distance touring. Meanwhile, hydraulic rack means it is more communicative than typical grand tourers like Mercedes SL63 AMG or Bentley Continental GT. In short, the Vanquish combines GT calmness with a certain level of sports car feel and sound.


Vanquish combines GT calmness with a certain level of sports car feel and sound.


The GT side of its manner can also be seen in the cabin. Build quality and materials are certainly improved from any other Astons bar One-77. The center console is finally completely redesigned (remark: all Astons since DB9 share pretty much the same dash and console). It features a smooth, lacquered surface and touch-sensitive buttons with vibration feedback, much like mobile phones. However, the best bit, i.e. a glass Start button, remains here to remind you this is a bespoke British hand-built machine. Not so good is the audio system and the Volvo-sourced infotainment system. Anyway, just listen to the engine sound is already the best entertainment.

As the dashboard has been moved forward by 20 mm, the driver enjoys more room. Door panels have also been reshaped to deliberate a bit more elbow room. The rear seats, however, remain truly dog seats, but you could choose to remove them. At the back, the boot now swallows a decent 368 liters of luggage, 60 percent more than DBS.


The ZF 6-speed ZF auto has a significant contribution to the Vanquish' GT manner, but it also hampers its driving thrills by equal degree.


The Vanquish is not perfect, of course. Its main weakness is the 6-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which is neither as fast as modern twin-clutch boxes nor as smooth as the newer ZF 8-speed auto. This transmission has a significant contribution to the Vanquish' GT manner, but it also hampers its driving thrills by equal degree. It makes the car feel less accelerative and less sharp than it could have been. As a result, it trails Ferrari F12 for driving thrills by a long long way. The prancing horse feels far faster, sharper and more amazing, or in other words, a supercar versus a GT. From this point of view, many people may find the Aston's asking price of £190,000 probably too much. On the plus side, the Aston is the more beautiful car in my eyes. Its interior also looks more tasteful. Its character and bias are just different from the Ferrari. Just like apple and orange, there is no point for comparison.
Verdict: 
 Published on 8 Aug 2014
All rights reserved. 
Vanquish update 2014

Now Aston finally comes up with a solution it deserves: ZF 8-speed automatic.


Beautiful, well balanced, feelsome and great engine sound, the current Aston Martin Vanquish II has many merits to qualify for a great GT. However, as pointed out in my original review, it was seriously hampered by the outdated 6-speed automatic gearbox. Now Aston finally comes up with a solution it deserves: ZF 8-speed automatic.

You might wonder why it takes Aston so long to bring the ZF 8-speeder, as the latter has been widely used by BMW, Audi, Jaguar etc. for a few years already. The reason is Aston Martin’s VH architecture requires the gearbox to be mounted at the rear axle for better balance, and ZF did not build a transaxle version of the box – not even for Maserati. Aston had to work together with ZF to adapt the 8HP to fit into its existing transaxle casing. Further efforts were spent to reprogram its shift patterns to suit the sportier character of Aston.

So how does the new box change the Vanquish? Surprisingly effective. First of all, it releases the performance potential previously capped by the lack of ratios. Now the 7th gear allows the Vanquish to register a top speed of 201 mph, a far cry from the previously 183 mph. In fact, it could have been Aston Martin’s fastest ever car if not the more slippery Rapide S received the same treatment. Acceleration is also much improved by the new gearbox, with 0-60 mph reduced from 4.0 to 3.6 seconds. It is still no match with Ferrari F12 or Porsche 911 Turbo S, but it can now face the challenge of Mercedes SL63 AMG with confidence.

The next improvement is subjective feel. Gearshifts are now swift and seamless, much faster and smoother than the old gearbox. Upshifts and kickdowns are implemented at mostly the right moments, and it adapts to your driving habits. While it is not as lightning quick as a twin-clutch box for sure, it works so well that you are not aware of its existence.

Finally, with additional ratios the 8-speeder also improves fuel economy by 11 percent on average. This is evident when you cruise at 70 mph and see the engine registering just 1500 rpm at 8th.

Gearbox aside, the Vanquish also gets some other updates this time around. Its V12 has been retuned to squeeze out another 3 horsepower and 8 pound-foot of torque. Its brakes get retuned booster to improve initial bite. Its suspensions get stiffer dampers (up 15% front and 35% rear) and bushings for better control. To compensate, 7 kg of unsprung weight has been removed by the use of lighter forged alloy wheels. On the road, the stiffer suspension does make the ride harsher on rough surfaces, but switch to Comfort mode can avoid most problems. However, by far the most important change is still the gearbox. It finally releases the potential of Vanquish and makes it a compelling choice among classic GT cars.

Verdict:
 Published on 31 Dec 2016
All rights reserved. 
Vanquish S

The naturally aspirated motor asks you to work harder, and it rewards you with greater noise and sharper throttle response...


Despite a new platform introduced by DB11, Aston Martin’s range-topping Vanquish is set to soldier on for a couple more years, so it needs to have another round of mid-life refresh, and the result is Vanquish S. Outside, the reshaped front splitter (made in carbon-fiber, of course) cuts aerodynamic lift at 150 mph from the previous 66 kg to 18 kg while without altering the drag coefficient of 0.37. It’s by no means a benchmark for aerodynamics, but nonetheless a welcomed improvement. The V12, still that naturally aspirated 5935 c.c. unit which started life in 1999, gets larger intake manifolds for freer breathing, hence adding 24 horsepower for a neat 600. The peak power arrives at 7000 rpm or 350 rpm higher than before, which should delight keen drivers. Peak torque is unchanged at a modest 465 lbft, although the torque band is said to be available at a wider rev range. As a result, the Vanquish S takes two-tenths less to reach 60 mph from standstill. It also gets a new exhaust to improve sound.

And what a sound! It is louder and angrier than the old car’s, which was already fabulous. While the new turbocharged V12 of DB11 has certainly more mid-range shove hence allowing a more laid-back, relaxed driving style, the Vanquish’s naturally aspirated motor asks you to work harder, and it rewards you with greater noise and sharper throttle response. That said, for everyday driving, cruising on motorway or following traffics it never needs to rev beyond 2000 rpm, thus it is perfectly refined. After all, this is still a big V12. The remapped ZF 8-speed automatic that sits at the rear axle seems to shift more crisply, thanks to a stiffer connection between engine and transaxle.


Suspension mods make the big front-engined GT to feel much sportier and engaging...


The chassis is not forgotten either. Aston stiffened its front and rear springs by 10 percent, thickened its rear anti-roll bar, firmed up its suspension bushings and retuned its Bilstein adaptive dampers to suit. These changes shift its yaw center forward thus reduce understeer. No wonder the car now feels more agile to steer. The unaltered hydraulic steering also seems to be benefited from the suspension mods. It feels heavier and more connected to the road. As good as the DB11’s new electrical rack, the Vanquish’s old-fashioned hydraulic steering is still peerless for feel and consistency. Meanwhile, the stiffer suspension improves the car’s primary ride, reduces roll and pitch on bumps and ripples while leaving the road texture for your seat of the pants to feel connected to the road. It is a very well-judged setup, making the big front-engined GT to feel much sportier and engaging than the old car as well as the DB11. A Ferrari F12 beater? Not that good, but it certainly gets closer.

Where the Vanquish S falls short is the interior. It is still wrapped in the best materials and finished with the best craftsmanship, but compared with the DB11 its mechanical instrument looks outdated, its screen too small and low resolution, and its infotainment system hopelessly ancient. That won’t change until its ultimate replacement in 2019. Before then, enjoy the last rev of the old-school Aston!
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout
Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Vanquish
2012
Front-engined, RWD
Aluminum spaceframe
Carbon-fiber, aluminum
4720 / 1913 / 1294 mm
2740 mm
V12, 60-degree
5935 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
-
-
573 hp / 6750 rpm
457 lbft / 5500 rpm
6-speed automatic
All double-wishbones
Adaptive damping
F: 255/35ZR20
R: 305/30ZR20
1739 kg
183 mph (c)
4.0 (c) / 4.1* / 4.4**
8.8* / 9.3**
Vanquish
2014
Front-engined, RWD
Aluminum spaceframe
Carbon-fiber, aluminum
4720 / 1913 / 1294 mm
2740 mm
V12, 60-degree
5935 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
-
-
576 hp / 6650 rpm
465 lbft / 5500 rpm
8-speed automatic
All double-wishbones
Adaptive damping
F: 255/35ZR20
R: 305/30ZR20
1739 kg
201 mph (c)
3.6 (c) / 3.6*
8.3*
Vanquish S
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Aluminum spaceframe
Carbon-fiber, aluminum
4730 / 1913 / 1294 mm
2740 mm
V12, 60-degree
5935 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
-
-
600 hp / 7000 rpm
465 lbft / 5500 rpm
8-speed automatic
All double-wishbones
Adaptive damping
F: 255/35ZR20
R: 305/30ZR20
1739 kg
201 mph (c)
3.4 (c)
-




Performance tested by: *C&D, **R&T





AutoZine Rating

Vanquish S



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