Used 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Convertible
Edmunds' Expert Review
Despite what the name suggests, the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish won't dominate the performance of its high-priced rivals. It does, however, stand triumphantly over them when it comes to sophistication and refinement.
When it comes to ultra-high-performance cars, great performance is often accompanied by great sacrifice. On specifications alone -- a 565-horsepower V12, a lightweight carbon-fiber body, near-perfect weight distribution and, yes, a stratospheric price -- one would expect the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish to compromise plenty of comfort and refinement in the name of performance.
Like the original Vanquish last seen in 2006, this latest Aston Martin flagship exudes sophistication that is as agreeable as it is exhilarating. The new Vanquish may not beat other high-priced exotics head to head, but not every wealthy driver desires total road supremacy. We doubt reasonable owners will mind the supercar gap and will instead simply luxuriate in the Vanquish's full sensory treats.
The Vanquish isn't radically new, but Aston Martin has updated just about every aspect compared to the DBS. Its seductive shape owes largely to its construction and body panels made from carbon fiber. The underlying structure mixes bonded aluminum and more carbon fiber, and curb weight is about 3,800 pounds. Motivation still comes from a V12, but various tweaks have increased power by about 55 hp.
But as with most Aston Martins, the overall experience transcends the specs and numbers. The Vanquish is a feast for the eyes, with seductive lines tracing its aggressive shape. The V12 delights the ears and the cabin exudes an intoxicating scent from the numerous premium leather surfaces that are also a pleasure to touch. This is automotive craftsmanship at its best.
If you're shopping this class of car, you're no doubt aware of your choices. We have yet to sample the delights of the 2013 Ferrari F12, but if the past is any indication, the new Ferrari will impress. There's also its Italian V12 counterpart, the outlandish 2013 Lamborghini Aventador. But for design sophistication and refinement, the Vanquish indeed stands triumphant.
2014 Aston Martin Vanquish configurations
The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish is a two-seat high-performance coupe offered in one very well-appointed trim level.
Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED accent lights, power-folding and heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive dampers, keyless remote entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a faux-suede headliner, power-adjustable heated front seats with memory functions, glass-faced switchgear, a 6.5-inch information screen, a Garmin-based navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, mobile WiFi (via a 3G phone connection) and a 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with iPod/USB connectivity and satellite radio.
Buyers can also opt for various wheel styles and add carbon-fiber exterior elements (roof, mirrors, side strakes and door handles), two rear seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated and ventilated front seats, a faux-suede-trimmed steering wheel, carbon-fiber or glossy interior trim and a six-CD changer. Along with an extensive color palette for the exterior and interior, customization is available through "Q by Aston Martin."
Performance & mpg
At the heart of the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish is a front midmounted 6.0-liter V12 that produces 565 hp and 457 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with column-mounted shift paddles.
In Edmunds.com testing, the Vanquish accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, about a full second slower than its McLaren or Lamborghini competition.
Standard safety features on the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish include antilock carbon-ceramic disc brakes, stability and traction control, side curtain airbags, pelvis and thorax side seat airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Vanquish stopped from 60 mph in 105 feet, about what we'd expect from a high-performance coupe.
If you're familiar with the typical supercar's compromises in comfort and refinement, the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish's luxury and sophistication will surprise. It may not equal the performance numbers of other supercars, but its wide range makes it a fantastic grand tourer. The ride quality is entirely agreeable, and we wouldn't hesitate to take it on an extended road trip.
Acceleration is impressive, though not as terrifying as similar supercars. In full automatic mode, the transmission shifts smoothly, but more spirited drivers will probably use the manual mode with the column-mounted paddle shifters to keep the revs high. This is especially likely if you've engaged the wheel-mounted Sport button, which clears the baffles for a truly inspiring snarl, howl and growl from the exhaust.
The Vanquish also features Normal, Sport and Track settings for the adaptive suspension, and there's enough of a difference among these modes to suit most driving tastes. We found, however, that minor midcorner bumps upset the rear wheels regardless of mode. Fortunately, the stability control interrupts the action very briefly and doesn't demand any additional driver intervention.
Opening the lightweight door accesses an inspiring cabin bathed in exquisite leather that's delicately stitched together. Simply starting the car offers some ceremony, as you slide the crystal-trimmed "key" fob into the center of the dash and trigger an evocative ignition sequence. Controls are well-placed in a glass-faced center stack that utilizes sensors underneath the printed control symbols, while a subtle haptic feedback system simulates button feel and acknowledges commands.
On closer inspection, however, a few less desirable elements temper the initial splendor. The pop-up information screen is cheap even by entry-level luxury car standards and some switchgear is lifted directly from Volvo. Some switches and knobs are downright flimsy, prone to fall off in your hand as was the case in our Vanquish test car. The infotainment menus, however, are relatively easy to navigate via a central knob controller.
Unlike most exotics or supercars, the Vanquish actually has usable trunk space that accommodates up to 13 cubic feet of cargo. In the U.S., there is additional space on a parcel shelf behind the front seats. Buyers can replace the shelf with two seats, but we'd caution against subjecting any humans to those tight confines.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
Had it not been for a fictional playboy called James Bond, Aston Martin would have died long ago. For decades the company built cars in handfuls and lost a lot of money, sustained only by wealthy trend-setters and its association with a British icon of questionable reputation. It's fitting, then, that as a new Bond movie, Skyfall, debuts in theatres, we're testing a new Aston Martin.
The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish shares its name with the original V12 supercar, which was the first Aston built wholly under Ford's stewardship. But this second-generation Vanquish is a product of the post-Ford era (which sees the automaker under the leadership of a British consortium) and shares its basic design with the DB9.
Nevertheless, the new Vanquish moves the game on with a full complement of carbon-fiber body panels. Underneath that exotic skin, a revised version of Aston's aluminum VH platform architecture now incorporates carbon-fiber components as well, while the familiar V12 engine sees some upgrades, too.
When it goes on sale in the spring of 2013, the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish will replace the DBS as the company's flagship GT. We always liked the DBS, but with the DB9 also getting a major refresh for 2013, this Vanquish will have to be a great deal better to justify its much larger price tag.
Haven't I Seen You Before?
The original Vanquish was designed by Ian Callum and established the design language for every subsequent Aston. Those cues are instantly recognizable in the new Vanquish, designed by Marek Reichman. Despite the German-sounding name, Reichman is actually British and was also responsible for the DBS, Rapide, Virage and the One-77 hypercar.
The One-77 exerts obvious influence on the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish, particularly around the rear and in the exaggerated side strakes. Crafting the car's panels from carbon fiber has also allowed for some extravagant surfacing.
It's a more sophisticated, homogeneous and beautiful design than the DBS, which in places looks dangerously aftermarket, but is it sufficiently different from the rest of the Aston family? We're not convinced. There will come a point when Aston will need to do more than simply add scoops and slashes to the DB9's aesthetic.
Modernizing the Cabin
The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish's cabin will look familiar if you've been in a DB9. Aston has tried to drag the design from the noughties to the teenies, replacing the old rotary knobs with touch-sensitive glass buttons. These emit what Aston's calling a haptic response — they buzz when you prod them. They're a neat solution and look contemporary, though in our test car, they're part of a beige-on-beige color scheme that's definitely an acquired taste.
This is also true of the $1,020 optional steering wheel. A refugee from the One-77 project, this wheel is square-shaped, and yes, it feels as silly as it sounds.
Aston claims that it takes 70 man-hours to smother the Vanquish's cabin in dead cow and sew a million or so stitches into the optional quilted leather. The trouble is that even these posh hides can't hide basic lapses in functionality.
The seats are much too flat for a car with sporting pretensions, and the absence of a passenger grab handle is an oversight, as friends are left to claw at the beautiful leather when you floor the throttle on a good road. And on a bright day, the dash-mounted Bang & Olufsen hi-fi speakers reflect into the windshield.
Practical? Not So Much
Similarly, the 2014 Vanquish's aftermarket-type navigation system strikes us as a weak effort in a car of such stature. It's quite the contrast to a rival like the Bentley Continental GT Speed, which has slick, sophisticated cabin electronics, no doubt thanks to the vast resources of the Volkswagen empire.
The Bentley is also able to accommodate two adults in back, while the Aston scarcely offers room for the smallest of children. No surprise, then, that 2+2 seating is optional ($4,545) for the U.S. market. On the flip side, the 13-cubic-foot trunk offers ample luggage space.
More Potent V12
Push the glass-tipped key into the slot and you'll hear the familiar cry of Aston's 5.9-liter V12. This engine derives from the V12 in the original Vanquish, but it's been heavily revised for its role here.
Variable intake and exhaust valve timing has been fitted to the V12 for the first time. It also gets a higher-volume fuel pump, enlarged throttle bodies, a new intake manifold and fully machined combustion chambers.
Output increases to 565 horsepower at 6,750 rpm, with 457 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm — gains of 55 hp and 37 lb-ft, respectively, over the DBS. This is also more power than the old V12 Vanquish S made (520 hp and 425 lb-ft).
Crucially, the extra power is delivered with an extra dose of refinement. The last Aston we drove, a Virage, exhibited excessive induction noise and transmission whine. In the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish, the V12's deep bass roar and sonorous crescendos come with an added dose of culture.
First Aston With Launch Control
Meanwhile, the ZF six-speed automatic returns to drive the Vanquish's rear wheels. Aston's engineers tell us there was still development potential left in this gearbox and thus no need to switch to the eight-speed automatic used by most rivals, including Bentley.
There were likely cost considerations, too, but we're still able to rip off some superbly smooth shifts with the Vanquish's paddle shifters. It's a good thing, as Aston doesn't plan to offer a conventional six-speed manual gearbox.
The Vanquish is the first Aston Martin to feature launch control. You put a foot on the brake, press the "LC" button, paddle shift to 1st gear, release the brake and nail the throttle. The transmission will automatically shift from 1st to 2nd, but not to 3rd. It's all very easy and Aston claims a 0-60-mph time of just over 4 seconds, which is right in line with Bentley's estimate for the Continental GT Speed.
Aston says the 2014 Vanquish's top speed is 183 mph. The GT Speed will reportedly hit 205 mph.
A True GT
Aston engineers tell us the updated chassis is lighter and stronger than previous iterations, with 25 percent more torsional rigidity than the DBS. The engine has also been lowered in the chassis by 0.75 inch to achieve a better center of gravity.
The suspension still consists of double wishbones all around, and the standard adaptive dampers offer three selectable modes: Normal, Sport and Track. Large, Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes are also standard.
On the move, the most obvious change relative to the DBS is not the suspension but the steering, which now uses electric assist. It's light and quick, with just 2.6 turns lock-to-lock compared to 3.0 in the DBS. It doesn't offer much in the way of on-center feel, but as the miles go by, the whole setup starts to feel more intuitive.
On bumpy British back roads, the suspension is best left in Normal, which gives enough compliance while still providing good control over bumps and undulations. When we find some smoother pavement, though, we switch to Sport, which offers firmer damping characteristics that we prefer. Track is a full-on attack mode, but most of the time its aggressive calibration feels at odds with the car's gentlemanly pretensions.
Overall, this may be the best application of Aston's VH architecture to date. The DBS's grand touring dynamics always felt at odds with its boy racer looks, but the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish looks and feels like a GT of the old school. It's more sporting than a DB9 but easier to live with than a V12 Vantage. It's also more engaging to drive than the Continental GT, though we'll reserve judgment until we've tested the 2013 GT Speed.
It's This... or a Gulfstream G650
Aston Martin's marketing executives are quick to point out that their cars vie for sales alongside helicopters, boats, even jets.
In that context, the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish's lofty base price of $282,110, (including a $2,115 destination charge and a $2,600 gas-guzzler tax) doesn't seem nearly so outrageous. Granted, that figure excludes some pretty basic amenities like ventilated seats, an alarm system with motion sensors and even an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Bluetooth, a USB input and a back-up camera, you'll be glad to know, are standard.
Then again, if you're cross-shopping a Vanquish with a Gulfstream G650, you're probably not concerned about standard and optional equipment. More likely, you simply want the very best of the new Astons, and in 2013, the Vanquish is that car.
And while the new Vanquish is not all-new, it's a logical and attractive evolution of the DB9. It feels better resolved than the DBS it replaces, and it delivers a more emotional driving experience than the portly Bentley Continental could ever hope to provide.
It's true, though, that alongside the Bentley, not to mention the elite models from mainstream manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, the Vanquish feels a bit old-fashioned, even crude in some respects. Customers may not care right now because it's simply stunning in the metal, but there will come a time when Aston will need to take a bigger, bolder step. It can't rely on good looks and Mr. Bond forever.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Convertible Overview
The Used 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Convertible is offered in the following styles: Volante 2dr Convertible (5.9L 12cyl 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.