— Matt Prior (@matty_prior) August 29, 2017
How, then, do you prepare to bid farewell to one of the world’s finest GT cars, I wondered.
Should I weep? Deny? Bargain? Send it a mixtape of meaningful songs? Write a poem, like Lewis Hamilton on Princess Di?
‘Oh Vanquish. You were the world’s best 2+2,
It was funny the way CEO Ulrich Bez used to pronounce you.
Your blue and white paint, like Italian pottery, is à la mode,
You’d win first in a concours at the Goodwood Festival of Spode,
If there was one.’
Hmm. No. I think you go for a long drive and enjoy it while it lasts. So I did, to Scotland, because it’s big and beautiful and the roads are fabulous and quiet and people don’t mind when you overtake them; and because I had a few days to spare, and the weather looked iffy enough to leave the motorbike at home.
A super-GT car like the Vanquish ought to be in its element on a drive like this, north, via Edinburgh, with no particular destination other than ‘west coast, perhaps’ in mind.
And so it was. With a 78-litre fuel tank, it has a realistic range of more than 400 miles because this is, remarkably, one of those cars in which it’s possible to not just match but also easily beat the official (21.6mpg) combined fuel economy.
I suspect Aston doesn’t spend quite as much time as other car makers trying to optimise its cars for a lab test.
Quite right too. Instead, the Vanquish has a broad, easy spread of power, all the way through the range, and it is made superb use of by the eight ratios of its ZF automatic gearbox, which is mounted at the rear axle to give the Vanquish a better weight distribution, what with its 5.9-litre V12 sitting at the front, weighing that end down.
The ratios are spot on: close enough for each upshift to put the Vanquish back in the heart of noise-making and torque-making territory; far enough apart that eighth sees you barely past tickover at the legal limit.
At the start of this year, when the Vanquish S was revised, one of the changes was to fit a stiffer coupling between propshaft and engine, to make gearshifts feel quicker and more positive.
There’s no sense, then (and the same’s true of most modern autos, to be fair), that there’s any ‘slushing’ going on. Gearshifts are crisp and, although the V12 is a generously revvy engine, it’s quite quick enough at around 3000-4000rpm, seemingly at the point the exhaust valves open, which brings sound and drama to a driving experience that’s engaging at all speeds. The sound is probably reverberating around the grand black walls of several glens even now.
Normally, that would be a problem. Flash, noisy cars are usually antisocial cars. But an Aston Martin, somehow, is not. Often a fast car will make somebody tell you they hate you. An Aston Martin gets people telling you they love the car (if not you).