New £200,000, V12-engined super sports cars are rare things; it’s not often you get to test one, even in this business. Getting the chance to travel in two of them within the space of a fortnight, before any single paying customer – that would be something.
But that’s the incredible, wonderful, ridiculous kind of privilege that being in this line of work can give you. On Tuesday I was in Sierra Nevada, getting on terms with Aston Martin’s £190k Vanquish; twelve days later, Maranello, and the £240k Ferrari F12. If you’d put a price on those two days, I certainly couldn’t afford it.
But, with six months still to go until both the Ferrari F12 and Vanquish launch in the UK, I’m in a unique and unexpected position: driven an F12; driven an Aventador; and ridden in the new British alternative to both.
People expect the Ferrari to be dynamically brilliant, and it is: poised, enthralling, and equally at home on road or track. Other people don’t really care how the Aventador handles; they’re in love with the outrageous image and idea of it as much as anything else. The surprising news? That, even in the face of such incredible opposition, there’s still a case to buy the bigger, slower, less powerful Aston over both. Quite a strong one, actually.
Riding in the Vanquish was enough to reveal the car’s enduring point of difference: it’s a real-world car, if ever such a thing existed with a £190,000 asking price. It’s comfortable, usable, refined, relaxing to cover ground in. You can’t always say that of the F12; certainly can’t of the Lambo. There’s a maturity and grace to the Aston that’s missing from the other two as well.
Does that offset the yawning power and performance deficit the Brit suffers with, or the glaring perception – right or wrong – that it’s antiquated before it’s even out? Not for the majority of supercar buyers, probably. And then there’s the financial side of the argument: because the Aston may be the cheapest car of the three, but you can bet that it’ll be the most expensive to keep.
In spite of all that, would I advise the man about to spend his two-hundred-large on a brand new Vanquish to think again? Far from it. I’d congratulate him on a classy and characterful choice. A brave one, but not a bad one by any stretch.