2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc. 

Aston makes a brilliant GT car even better 

I think the majority of auto enthusiasts will agree that the Aston Martin Vanquish is one of the most beautiful grand touring cars currently available. Certainly the new DB11 will be high on aficionados' lists, but the more classic GT lines of the British marque's earlier design language are still very popular. 


 

The second-generation Vanquish arrived on the scene in 2012 for the 2013 model year, so it's still fresh as far as super GTs go, and now the new Vanquish S builds on appearances while upping performance for one of the most enticing models to hit the road last year.

 

 

The visual changes are subtle yet effective. A reshaped front splitter, grille surround, and rear diffuser are formed from exposed carbon-fibre, providing reduced frontal lift with minimal added drag. Additionally, dual twin-tip exhaust outlets free up exiting gases and enhance the auditory experience, while options include painted graphics packages, 20-inch diamond-turned five-spoke alloys, and carbon-fibre hood louvres. 


 

Improved performance in every respect 

The real meat of the Vanquish S can be found under that long, elegantly domed hood, Gaydon's naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 now tuned to 580 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, which due to larger, freer-breathing intake manifolds results in a 12-horsepower gain over the outgoing non-S Vanquish, as well as ultra-quick throttle response. Peak torque remains the same with 465 lb-ft arriving at 5,500 rpm, which is good enough for three-tenths off of the previous 568 horsepower Vanquish' zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 3.5 seconds instead of 3.8, ahead of an identical 323-km/h (201-mph) top speed. Still, there's much more to the Vanquish S performance advantage than mere straight-line acceleration. 


 

Aiding responsiveness and overall refinement is a more polished eight-speed Touchtronic III automatic gearbox, which in Vanquish S tune provides quicker yet smoother shifts for faster, more positive engagement, while the new model not only improves high-speed handling via aero upgrades noted earlier, but also from a retuned suspension, modified damper internals, revised spring rates, and new anti-roll bar bushings.

 


 

The result is a car that's incredibly strong off the line, the immediacy of its power made even more potent due to the Vanquish S' lighter-weight all-carbon fibre bodywork, which of course does much more than just quicken off-the-line performance. Thanks to that lightness and increased rigidity it aids lateral control too, for a car that feels much more agile than anything so large should when pushed beyond limits that would humble lesser competitors. 


 


All-carbon fibre body reduces weight and increases rigidity 

This lightness was most noticeable during fast-paced transitional manoeuvres that can often unsettle large GTs, yet the Vanquish S held its ground so naturally it was if I were Daniel Ricciardo diving down the inside of multiple opponents in his Aston Martin-branded Red Bull Racing F1 car on his way to winning the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix-how I wish.

 

 

Of course, the Vanquish S is no Formula 1 car, which is a good thing if you care one iota about comfort and bringing along family and friends. It's brilliantly quick for a road car and masterfully adept at keeping within a given lane at extreme speeds, but I give it even higher marks for delivering such off the charts performance while multiple backsides are snuggly ensconced within wonderfully supportive leather sport seats. The ability to power-adjust the driver's seat and manually position the steering wheel for what I found to be ideal ergonomics moved my comfort and control experience up a solid notch too, this not always the case in ultra-premium exotics. 


 

On that note front seat roominess is exemplary, so all but the smallest jockeys and tallest NBA centres shouldn't have a problem fitting in, and even those sized outside of the norm can likely be custom fitted by Aston's bespoke department. As for rear seat accommodations, bringing along two or a maximum of three extra passengers will depend on whether you've opted for the $5,560 2+2 Seating Arrangement. When I set up the driver's seat for my almost median five-foot-eight frame there was ample room for a smaller adult or child behind. Additionally, the trunk is fairly well proportioned for this class of car, and beautifully finished as you might expect. 


 

Roomy Vanquish S interior finished with impeccable artisanship 

Those kids will feel pretty lucky to climb inside a Vanquish S, although possibly not for the same reasons as you. Looking at the car I was immediately filled with thoughts of 007 remotely piloting an original V12 Vanquish (2001-2005) in the 20th James Bond spy action film Die Another Day (2002), yet once we opened the door and peered inside my considerably younger partner came up with Spiderman, her mind inspired by the beautifully detailed "web" of hand-stitching across the seat inserts, door panels, and even the roofliner. It's actually a $4,630 optional Filograph Quilting upgrade, just one of many improvements made to the car I was driving. 


 

The rest of the interior's leather was stitched in a courser contrasting thread, this a $750 upgrade, while the seats had $1,250 Micro Perforated Leather inserts. As with all Aston Martins the Vanquish S comes fitted with a level of luxury few peers can match, some additional highlights including an available Satin Chopped Carbon Fibre centre stack panel, included in my tester for $3,900, or Bridge of Weir Caithness leather (not included). 


 

Other interior options that were added to my tester car include an $8,415 Contemporary and Luxury Pack, a $2,105 Interior Shadow Pack, a second glass key at $990, and more, while exterior upgrades included $12,160 for a Carbon Fibre Plus Pack, $5,563 for a Vanquish S Graphics Pack, $2,778 for a Shadow Exterior Pack, $2,105 for black brake calipers, $990 for black mesh grilles on the hood and side strakes, a $361 aluminum fuel filler cap, $177 for V12 side badges, and more for a total of $55,980 in extras overtop the base Vanquish S' suggested retail price of $352,380, resulting in a grand total of $408,360 before fees and taxes. 


 

Exclusivity comes as a result of exotic materials and exquisite handcrafted detail 

Of course, paying the price of a (very small) Vancouver condo for a sports car won't be in everyone's budget, but this inadvertently produces some of its allure, exclusivity. You won't see many of these super GTs driving around the corner, even within North America's Supercar Capital city, but everyone in the know will appreciate exactly what it is, a Vanquish S commanding immediate respect. There's also a very real cost that comes with engineering and then handcrafting small numbers of cars from carbon-fibre, let alone all the other meticulously detailed handy work found on the exterior and throughout the cabin. 


 

To that end the Vanquish S uses the proprietary Aston Martin glass key fob that slots into the middle of the centre stack, and gets pushed further to ignite the engine. You select gears via the pushbuttons to either side, while manual shifting takes place via paddle shifters to each side of the steering column. These don't rotate with the steering wheel but rather stay fixed in place, which is exactly what's required in a high performance car, as you'll always know exactly where they are when you need to give them a tug. The steering wheel is also a straightforward, uncluttered device, with minimal switchgear as it should be. Seat controls are on the transmission tunnel, while most of the buttons on the centre stack are touch-sensitive. 


 

That centre stack will be familiar territory to most Aston Martin owners, and looks more boutique than the recently updated DB11 and Vantage interiors, but I love that about it. The four big metal knobs feature knurled edges, and there's a substantive weight to them that most buying into this price class should appreciate, but of course their aluminum construction means they don't really weigh much at all, important for a car with such sporting pretensions. 


 

Everyone loves the Aston Martin Vanquish S 

The Vanquish S looks fast standing still: yes a tired old saying but one that's nevertheless true when experiencing this car first hand. Positioning it for our photo shoot attracted almost everyone within eyesight, with pointing fingers upon approach, plenty of smiles and lots of questions. 

One glance and it's easy to appreciate why everyone is drawn to this car. The gorgeous Vanquish S styling crosses all boundaries: man, woman, young, old, and everyone in between, while this particular model's Cobalt Blue paint and contrasting carbon fibre details dazzle in sunlight, enhancing all the flowing curves, sculpted ducts and sharp angles brilliantly. Opening up its doors for its legions of new fans resulted in oohs and ahs, it's aforementioned stitched leatherwork finished in artistic perfection. All the metals look and feel as if machined by hand from billet aluminum too, while the roof pillars are wrapped in suede, the wool carpets and floor mats are richly woven; the entire car impeccably put together. 


 

Amazingly fast yet comfortable and easy to drive 

Amongst favourite details, the Vanquish S' analogue gauge cluster spins the tachometer counterclockwise in Aston Martin tradition, just a little nod to the past that any classic car fan will appreciate, while the infotainment display atop the centre dash is easy to use and filled with some of the brand's more recent graphical, system and feature upgrades, the latter including navigation with nice colour mapping, a backup camera and more. Most importantly, though, thanks to that camera, parking sensors, and good inherent mechanical design, the Vanquish S is easy to drive for a super GT, despite its otherworldly performance. Truly, I could live with this car day in and day out, and I would never say that about many low-slung, mid-engine supercars. 


 

It certainly is easy to recommend the Vanquish S, as it ideally combines the best modern-day construction technologies with some glorious examples of yesteryear's handcrafted artisanship, plus it goes like there's no tomorrow. It will be a car you'll want to keep in your collection for a very long time. 



Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.