Why we ran it: For one last glorious hurrah to Aston Martin’s era of VH-based cars with big normally aspirated V12s
Life with a Vanquish S: Month 6
Saying goodbye to the Vanquish S – 15 November 2017
What’s it like to live with a super-GT on a daily basis? That was the purpose of this test. And the simple answer is: super.
And GTish, of course. Few cars do GT as well as the Aston Martin Vanquish S. Although those cars do include the Aston DB11, which is why the Vanquish received the upgrades that make it an ‘S’ about a year ago: they made it more powerful, helped it deliver the power a bit more keenly and made it noisier.
The big, naturally aspirated V12 engine might be endangered, but the Vanquish S shows why it will be a such shame if it disappears completely. A 5.9-litre V12 sits at the front of the Vanquish S and it’s a thing of no small wonder.
A post shared by Neil Winn (@neilwinn) on Jun 28, 2017 at 11:27am PDT
At 592bhp, it’s still some way short of the Ferrari F12’s 730bhp, which was the chief rival at the time of the Vanquish’s upgrades. And since then, the 812 Superfast has been launched with a fairly absurd 789bhp.
The next Vanquish, then, will have two turbochargers and more than 700bhp but, meanwhile, it will plod along to 2019 with this 5.9-litre unit that has its origins from the days when Aston was owned by Ford.
It’s a cracking engine, wonderfully smooth – as anything with multiples of six inline cylinders is – yet soulful when you want it to be and just about muted enough when you don’t.
It’s not like 592bhp isn’t ‘enough’, anyway, is it? Granted, because it’s a naturally aspirated unit, you have to work the Aston engine to access all of its power, but that seems like no bad thing to me. It’s brisk enough at low to middling revs and, should you want more, you have to hang on to a lower gear. No bother. Although the ZF eight-speed auto, a transaxle ’box to maintain good weight distribution, wasn’t changed last year, its coupling to the propshaft was made more rigid.
So it retains the smoothness of a torque converter auto, yet locks up and drives confidently very quickly. Not once in 7000 miles did I want for this to be a dual-clutch auto.
In fact, in 7000 miles in one of these, you don’t want for much else at all, and I genuinely don’t think that’s just because you feel spoilt. I’ve spoken with owners who say they spend more time in their Vanquishes than they ever expected to because it hits the mark in the right way.