2013 Aston Martin Vanquish Review

The last honest Aston Martin review you’ll ever read

By Shahzad Sheikh

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

The new Aston Martin Vanquish is gorgeous. Actually that’s an understatement, this thing is gob-smackingly, jaw-droppingly, breath-takingly, eye-poppingly sensational. It’s voluptuous, sleek and sexy, it’s got incredible stance, undeniable grace, exquisite elegance, and magnificent presence.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

It’s beautiful beyond belief. In fact, as I stare at it now, Amber Heard could walk suggestively and slowly past in extremely cheeky daisy dukes and a wet T-shirt and I wouldn’t notice, so transfixed am I by the beauteous vision before me, quite simply it is one of the most drool-worthy contemporary motorcars on the planet.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Okay, it’s derivative of the Aston Martin DB9, a very obvious evolution of the DBS, and heavily borrows cues like the elongated side strakes from the rare and exclusive One-77– although the Vanquish is far prettier than that overrated panda car – but it’s such a perfect fusion of the signature modern Aston shapes that I don’t care, and nor will you.

Aston_Martin_Vanquish_4

Under the bonnet is a glorious 6.0-litre V12 producing 565bhp and 457lb ft of torque, giving it a 0-100kph time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 295kph, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic (an updated version of Aston’s Touchtronic2 transmission) complete with launch control.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Inside it gets a heavily revised interior, again closely based on the One-77’s cabin. Out goes the ancient Volvo sat-nav and the infotainment system is completely overhauled, employing excellent Garmin navigation.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

The key fob (or is that still pretentiously dubbed the ‘Emotion Control Unit’) goes in the middle as before, but the centre console now features smooth shiny black surfaces with touch-responsive pads eradicating buttons.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

So there you go, sublime, sophisticated, supreme – what more do you want? And if you’re a die-hard Aston Martin fan, and firmly believe this is the best car on the planet, you need read no further. In fact I implore you not to continue with this discourse, just scroll to the bottom to look at my pictures of this adorable automobile and then click to another page, say this one perhaps.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Okay now go.

Go on, scroll.

Yeah down, down, keep going.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

What? Why are you still here?

Are you sure you want to continue reading? You’re not going to like it.

I’m about to shatter some myths. Are you ready for a reality-check?

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Okay then, but I warned you.

The beauty, as pure and undeniable as it is, is only skin deep. Underneath, the newest GT car from the iconic British marque is, well, nothing new really. It’s a slightly updated chassis compared to the DBS, the engine has a bit more power but performance is only fractionally better.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

To drive it really doesn’t feel that much different. Which might not have been a bad thing, had the DBS itself felt cutting-edge and contemporary. But the DBS was just a slightly more performance-orientated (and not quite as pretty) version of the DB9, which has been around, and still is, since 2004 – nearly a decade. In fact the platform is derived from the first Vanquish which was introduced in 2001.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Okay, so it’s old underneath, but there are cars out there still being churned out on old platforms yet feeling new and modern nonetheless.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

This doesn’t though. It feels like an old car, and not in a good way. The seating position isn’t quite right, the reflections on the instrument panel make it unreadable at times, and reflections on the windscreen can obstruct visibility in our sunny climes.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

It has back seats, but they’re useless for anything other than tiny kids, the handbrake is a quaint old-fashioned fly-off type near the door sill, which I’ve never had a problem with, but know of drivers who’ve really struggled with operating it. The steering wheel is flat-topped, flat-sided, but with a rounded-bottom – the opposite of what most sports car steering wheels do these days – and the tiny sun-visors are hilarious.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

As for the touch-sensitive panels, they would have looked ultra-modern in 1985, but are difficult to use as you never know if you’ve actually activated them or not. There is no dual-zone climate control and the temperature settings are almost impossible to see in the daytime. And as for the new infotainment screen – I refer you back to the earlier comment about 1985.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Yes it does Bluetooth up pretty easily, but it’s a bit pointless as not one single caller could actually hear me clearly. On the plus side the Bang & Olufsen stereo (like that found in Audis) is fantastic with a rich and deep sound.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

And at least the materials used are exemplary and the craftsmanship is very obviously by hand – perhaps a bit too obviously. Rolls-Royce interiors are also done by craftsman, but they’re millimetre perfect by comparison.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

But it sounds great right? Well yes it does, totally. Though it’s neither as loud nor as evocative as the V12 Vantage, or as a Maserati. Thankfully though you can still revel in the ear-pleasing soundscape accompanying this car around especially once you press the Sport button.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

But like the engine note, the performance too seems slightly subdued. Not quite as strong and unrelenting as I’d expected from a V12 – the V8 in the Bentley Conti GT feels more potent.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

The gearbox too is little lethargic and clunky now in comparison with rivals, and whilst satisfying to use when you’re on it, not every owner might appreciate it, plus it’s only a six-speed when high end car makers are offering eight, and there’s talk of nine and ten-speeds on the way.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Talking of rigid, why is there some squeaking going on in this car? Is it flexing? Not something you want to be wondering about as you’re cornering at speed. But then it doesn’t really seem to enjoy that anyway, even though it goes through the motions ably enough.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

The turn-in feels a little hesitant, the Vanquish doesn’t settle through a bend and, hang-on, is that understeer? You can hustle it along pretty efficiently, but you eventually revert back to a more casual gait where it seems far happier and composed.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

There’s something odd about the suspension too: in normal mode the damping is fairly loose and there’s quite a bit of movement even on a smooth highway. However, put it in Sport mode, which would normally seem inappropriate, and it stiffens up the body control and pummels the road surface into submission giving a less agitated ride, although it’s more fidgety.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

All of the above criticism is really me being quite fussy, because it’s not as bad as it may have sounded. And in fact considering what a delicious piece of eye-candy this car is, it’s all pretty much forgiveable…

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

No, no! We car-reviewers always do that with Astons. We always give them far too much leeway, just because they are British and beautiful and Bond drives them and we all wanna be suave superspies in tuxedos.

Uh-uh! This far, no further. We can no longer keep perpetuating the myth. It’s time for some tough love.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Sorry Aston, but these vices are not acceptable in a car costing AED1.2m, especially when it’s your flagship. It’s about the price of a Ferrari FF, and love or hate the styling (and it’s really rather nice actually) the presentation, build and dynamics of the Fezza are perfectly executed. You can definitely feel the value in the Italian GT. Not something you would have expected to read in the 1980s perhaps.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

If we found flaws like those apparent in the Aston in Bentley’s and Rolls-Royces we’d go to town on them because we’d relish the chance to have a dig at their owners, Volkswagen and BMW respectively.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

But what I’ve now come to realise is that if it wasn’t for German stewardship of these iconic British marques, the cars bearing the winged-B and the Flying Lady mascots would also be stuck in a stagnant time loop, cashing in on bygone glories and hoping their customers will be forgiving and keep buying into the cachet and perception.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

But this is the 21st Century, and the nouveau-riche of the Middle East and China is not the sentimental type ruled by passion and misplaced loyalty – like I am, but then I’m poor so I don’t count anyway. And product placement in spy-movies will only get you so far.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

These discerning drivers are used to owning precision-built, fully thought-out utterly solid metal like Mercs, and would be rather appalled at the inherent sense of fragility you get with an Aston.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

In fact that’s the answer isn’t it? BMW and VW both own British luxury marques and are doing a fabulous job with them. (Heck even Jaguar’s thriving and building its best cars ever under Indian ownership.)

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Mercedes made a hash of Maybach, but nobody really cared about that antiquated brand. There’s already discussion of a partnership between Daimler-Benz and Aston, and frankly I’m beginning to think it can’t come soon enough.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Perhaps the Three-Pointed Star should simply swallow Aston Martin, because the small sports-car maker just can’t afford to keep dressing up old tech and relying on a 10-year old design template. Fresh investment for all-new product might only come with Mercedes muscle.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

So now you know why this is the last honest Aston Martin review you’ll ever read, because it’s unlikely they’ll lend me any cars after seeing this write-up. And no other journalist will tell you the truth about modern Astons for fear of being deprived of cruising around in such alluring shapes. I can’t really blame them. I’ll miss it too, but I’ll still get to see these lovely Aston shapes, which is evidently better than being behind the wheel anyway.

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish
Specs
Price: AED 1,185,500 ($322k)
Engine: 6.0-litre V12, 565bhp @ 6750rpm, 457lb ft @ 5500rpm
Performance: 4.1secs 0-100kph, 295kph, 14.4L/100
Transmission: Five-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Weight: 1846kg

2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

What do you think? Is he right, or utterly, comprehensively, unforgiveably mistaken? Let us know what you think of Shahzad’s review below. Go on, lay into him, how dare he speak ill of such desirable cars!

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9 responses to “2013 Aston Martin Vanquish Review”

  1. Cam says:

    Well done for speaking the truth! I’ll never have the money to own an Aston, but it’s refreshing to read a car review that’s honest, regardless of the car!

  2. Todd says:

    “Transmission: Five-speed auto, four-wheel drive”
    ???

    Thanks for that Shahzad – now I know what not to buy when I get that sort of money… I think I prefer the looks of the Vantage anyway. Maybe this one looks better in person than in pix, but I think it’s a bit overwraught, particularly the weighty line on the lower doors.

    • admin says:

      Oops – where’d that creep in from? It is in fact a six-speed auto and of course rear-wheel drive. Corrected. Thanks!

  3. Usama Khan says:

    based on the review, I shouldn’t buy this as it is just a minor upgrade over the previous one. but I don’t have the previous one. baby blue for me please, yep the one in top gear S19 E2. just look at it!

  4. Jonathan Castle says:

    Queues – cues?
    Cache – cachet?

    Burn after reading!

  5. GT says:

    Jonathan, sorry – “and heavily borrows cues like the elongated side strakes”. That is not ‘queues’. ‘Cues’ is correct as it is talking about being prompted by something else.

    Nice write-up SS. The Vanquish is firmly crossed off my list!

  6. martin says:

    Good analysis. I have been dreaming of an aston volante since 1962 when I owned my first DB2/4. I drove the 2014 volante (vanquish) a few days ago, excited by the visual and aural experiences and sort of ok for the rest. Comfortable 2 seat cruiser with heaps of street cred but struggling with the buying decision and which colour.

    What is the colour of the car you tested and are the photo’s a good rendition of reality..? please let me know.

    • admin says:

      [Shahzad] Yes, the pictures are of the car we tested, and although I’ve employed quite a bit of post processing on the images, the colour has not been tampered with. It was a luscious deep red, very nice indeed.

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