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The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish played a huge role in returning this classic British carmaker to both financial success and technological sophistication. Of course, any good Aston Martin has to have drop-dead gorgeous styling, and the Vanquish does not disappoint. But on top of classic Aston design cues such as the unique grille shape and low hood line, it added a shot of bravado that included muscular fenders and a wide, squat stance. It is certainly the most masculine of Aston's classic designs.
Although loosely based on the Virage/V8 platform, the now out-of-production Aston Martin V12 Vanquish featured thoroughly modern technology. The main body structure included aluminum sections bonded and riveted around a central carbon-fiber transmission tunnel. Carbon fiber A-pillars, all-aluminum suspension and aluminum body panels served to keep weight down, although the Vanquish still weighed in at a little more than 2 tons.
The powertrain was equally cutting-edge, with a high-performance 6.0-liter V12 engine that first made 460 horsepower, and later 520. Tasked with getting that power to the rear wheels was an automated-clutch, six-speed sequential-shift manual gearbox utilizing F1-style paddle shifters.
The Vanquish showed that Aston Martin was no longer just a quaint British carmaker with its best days behind it. Best of all, it maintained Aston's historical penchant for creating achingly beautiful automobiles -- when it arrived as a 2002 model, the Vanquish rivaled Halle Berry for attention when it appeared in the James Bond film Die Another Day.
Unlike that cinematic stinker, arguably a low point in a storied franchise, the Vanquish established a new, highly successful direction for Aston Martin. Although it gracefully bowed out after the 2006 model year as the company's flagship, the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish is no doubt a classic in the making.
Most Recent Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish was a high-performance coupe produced from 2002-'06. The initial model was joined by a more-powerful Vanquish S variant in 2005, and only the S model was available for the final year of production.
The standard Vanquish's 6.0-liter V12 pumped out 460 hp and 400 pound-feet of torque, while the Vanquish S increased the machismo to 520 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. The Vanquish S could leap from zero to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds and had a top speed of 200 mph, making it the fastest production Aston Martin ever made.
In terms of equipment, the V12 Vanquish came with an F1-style automated-clutch manual transmission, 19-inch wheels with performance tires, power seats and a 10-speaker in-dash CD changer audio system that constantly battled with the rumbling exhaust for acoustic supremacy. A navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity and multilevel heated seats were standard equipment on the 2006 V12 Vanquish S, as were the Sports Dynamic suspension, steering and braking package.
The V12 Vanquish's interior was finely finished in the best leather hides and offered a customizable selection of color options. In 2006, the center control stack was revised to match the current, newer crop of Aston Martins. Previously, the Vanquish borrowed most of its switchgear from the Ford family parts bin -- especially Jaguar, which is never a good sign for ergonomics. The Vanquish was available with a choice of 2+2 or strictly two-seat interiors, and there was a decent amount of room compared to other exotic sports cars.
In a road test of the standard Vanquish we were, well, vanquished by its seductive V12 power and low-frequency exhaust rumble. The word "awesome" was thrown about a number of times. The ride was stiff but never abusive, while the monster 19-inch tires did a great job of gluing the rear-drive Aston to the pavement. We were also reasonably impressed with the paddle-shift gearbox, although we would have liked a little more smoothness in everyday driving.