This is never to suggest that noise refinement, cosseting seats and ride comfort aren’t crucial in any new Aston; they indisputably are. But having driven the new Aston Vanquish it's clear true supercar comfort comes in a tightly wrapped parcel containing high-speed stability, quick and uncorrupted steering and top-class levels of grip, chassis balance and brake retardation, all of them deployed through quick-acting and easily modulated controls.
With these advantages, a reasonable driver feels able to use the car to its potential. Without them, it becomes fundamentally slow, whatever the power. Aston has always been good at chassis development. Here we have an ideal front/mid-engined coupé with a slight rearward weight bias, midships seating for the front occupants and adjustable double wishbone adaptive suspension.
The Aston Martin Vanquish has its 568bhp 6.0-litre V12 lowered by 19mm, and the overall result is the best road-going big Aston yet. It betters even the One-77 at a fraction of the price.
Aston has enhanced its muscles and haunches, provided it with a rear-end shape that excuses the need for a spoiler and given it a set of aerodynamic carbonfibre blades. The new tailpipes are beautiful, and so are the carbonfibre side sill extensions. The typically Aston Martin side vents ahead of the front doors are rethought and beautifully expressed. But the turret and window shapes tell you that this is still fundamentally a DB9.
When you approach it to drive, the Vanquish is the most welcoming of cars. The butterfly doors open not just outwards but also upwards, away from any kerb. They’re long but not particularly heavy and will remain open at any angle, aiding access.
Standard equipment doesn't disappoint either, with the Vanquish filled full of leather, numerous chrome touches, parking sensors, cruise control, heated seats, climate control, reversing parking camera and a Cobra tracking system. Popping up out of the dashboard is a 6.5in infotainment system complete with DAB radio, USB connectivity, Bluetooth, sat nav and a Bang & Olufsen stereo system.
The interior of our test car was trimmed in high-quality tan leather, and a glance at the options sheet (£20,000 worth of those) showed why this cabin was so easy on the eye. You pay extra for the One-77 steering wheel, the heavyweight carpet, the herringbone carbonfibre dashboard, the seat and shelf quilting, the carbon paddles, the carbonfibre exterior roof panel and lots more. Outside, you’ve got optional 20-spoke forged 20-inch alloy wheels, with another grand or so spent on red brake disc calipers.
Such inflated prices can easily damage initial good feelings and its cockpit, especially when you notice that, as a customer for this £190k car, you’d be slugged extra for upgrading the alarm with volumetric and tilt sensors. The argument goes buyers of cars like these don’t notice an extra £20k on top of the purchase price, but it makes you wonder what an Aston Martin Vanquish would be like without any options fitted.
As you slide into the elegant, low-set bucket seat, it’s obvious Aston’s engineers have worked hard to provide more room. The fascia still has a prominent centre console, but it looms less than it did in the DBS and carries more design sophistication. The ancillary controls have been refined and simplified into easy-to-use, well labelled buttons.
The door panels have been reshaped to allow more elbow freedom and there’s more footwell room. It’s more driver-friendly and sets a convenience standard that few in the £190k bracket meet.
At the base of a switch panel in the One-77 steering wheel’s vertical spoke are two well-identified buttons, one to adjust the suspension (Normal, Sport and Track) and one for throttle response, exhaust note, gearbox regime and steering effort.
Push the glass key into its central holder to start the engine. It bursts into life with a rather unnecessary, testosterone-driven blip. Select first via the six-speed automatic gearbox’s long-travel fixed paddle on the right and the car burbles smoothly, moving fluently through its gears even if you’re changing at 2500rpm while the engine warms.
This is a consummate demonstration of the refinement of a top-class ‘normal’ automatic, better governed than ever by new-era electronics for even faster gearshifts and quicker paddle responses.
In its new double variable valve timing form, power climbs from 510bhp in the DBS to 568bhp, while 457lb ft of torque is available at 5500rpm. And this in a car 60kg lighter than recent iterations, at 1739kg, ready to go. Small wonder that the top speed is 183mph and the 0-62mph sprint occupies 4.1sec. Its claimed average economy is a reasonable 19.6mpg, but its emissions are a significant 335g/km of CO2.
Driving the Aston Martin is easy, but far from trivial. It’s potent and feels special, but also very intuitive. You sit low, sighting down the long bonnet, and when you squeeze the accelerator or move a paddle, you get exactly what you’re expecting.
Hundreds of hours of refinement have gone into this car, and you feel their result in every single driver movement, from a sudden application of full throttle (you get a rapid response from gearbox and engine, whereas others in this bracket take ‘thinking time’) to a gentle halt (you, the driver, decide how much the nose will dive and how quickly it will recover).
It feels fast, if not quite as explosive as the pricier Ferrari F12, the Aston’s nearest rival. The Vanquish is precision itself on an ultra-smooth road, where despite its size, you can understeer or oversteer it at will in corners up to about 60mph.
If you overcook it in faster going into the corner, the stability control will come to your rescue, unless you’ve managed to wash off enough speed with the mighty carbon-ceramic brakes, for which you don’t get charged extra. This feels a big car for a circuit, but once you get into a rhythm, it is a match for some much more track-focused cars.
The Aston Martin Vanquish’s real party trick might not be recognised by every buyer: its awe-inspiring composure over rough and difficult back roads. You sit there, cosseted and supported in the bucket seat, making tiny steering dabs merely to follow the road, not (as with others) to compensate for suspension movement.
This is the version of comfort I was talking about at the start. This Aston stays magnificently flat, resisting pitch and roll-rock in a way that is highly unusual for any sporting GT.
Aston Martin has built a car that's truly designed for British roads, and if supercar buyers value such things, they will laud the new Vanquish above all for this.