We bid Aston Martin’s era of VH-based cars a fond farewell, and what better way than by living with its Vanquish S super-GT for six months
Why we’re running 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 5
Getting loud and rorty with the Aston – 25 October 2017
Aston’s DB11 has a quiet mode when you start it. Give the start button a prolonged push and it doesn’t wake the neighbours.
This Vanquish just makes a massive noise. Apparently, many modern engines want a start-up ‘blip’ to help the catalysts into life, but they don’t need the exhaust flaps open.
It wouldn’t hurt if these ones stayed closed occasionally.
Vanishing into the Highland sunset – 27 September 2017
When somebody far too good for you walks into your life and then, upon realising they’re far too good for you, walks straight out of it again, leaving you heartbroken, there is grieving.
On a not unrelated note, soon this Aston Martin Vanquish S will be leaving Autocar Towers to return to its maker.
The Vanquish exudes a kind of passing-era feeling, doesn’t it? I know, it’ll stay on sale until 2019, but what with it being the last of the naturally aspirated V12s, and what with it being the last Aston that will die with the VH architecture beneath it, it will be, when it goes, the close of a relatively happy, and particularly significant, chapter in Aston Martin’s history.
Now out of time with this car. Which is, officially, a shame. Staggeringly good old-school kit. pic.twitter.com/LnyS1XWJ4e
— 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.
Hashtag week off Scotland Aston solo road trip bloody hell wish you were here etc etc pic.twitter.com/jt7DWy4lxy
— Matt Prior (@matty_prior) August 22, 2017
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).
Perhaps it’s because it’s British. Perhaps it’s because it’s beautiful. Perhaps it’s because it’s relatively understated compared with some supercars and super-GTs. Either way, there are few better places to contemplate a sunset.
Imperfections in the Vanquish S’s armour – 13 September 2017
It would be easy to sit here and spew out another 600 words covering all the great things there are about an Aston Martin Vanquish S.
Lord knows, I’ve already done that. So let’s try something harder. What, exactly, is wrong with this car?
Not ‘broken’ wrong, you understand, because there’s none of that. We’re about to accrue the kind of mileage, in less than three months, that an owner will likely take a year or two to amass, but there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with the Vanquish S in that sense.
I sometimes notice a squeak from, I assume, a rear wheel bearing; but then it goes away. Ditto a little squeak from one of the door mirrors as it …read more