Pros: 5.9-liter V12 is lighter, more powerful and thriftier with fuel than its predecessor.
Cons: more of a gentleman's grand touring coupe than an all-out supercar.
What's New: The Vanquish replaces the DBS and claims 75 percent new parts.
The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish is skinned in the British brand's typically gorgeous bodywork, and underneath is an equally compelling 565-hp V12. But beyond the sensuous surfacing and roaring powerplant is a refined package that introduces the fourth generation of Aston's so-called Vertical/Horizontal platform, which has evolved in a stiffer, meaner and more focused way to attack your favorite B-roads.
The repurporsed underpinnings now feature carbon-weave structures at either end of the extruded aluminum chassis, enabling the 3,833-pound coupe to maintain a glued-down relationship to tarmac. And though all three of its cockpit-adjustable suspension settings veer toward the stiff side, at least the driver can choose his or her level of commitment to high-speed driving. After all, nobody -- especially well-heeled car buyers -- wants their teeth rattled during simple trips to the supermarket.
Thanks to its mighty 6.0-liter V12 and quick-shifting 6-speed transmission, Vanquish drivers might easily find themselves in trouble with the law during casual driving. The powertrain combo is an uprated version of the arrangement found in the model it replaces (the DBS), and Aston Martin claims this exotic can hit 60 miles per hour in a scant 4.1 seconds -- which usually means it can do even better in the real world. Top speed is estimated at 183 mph, and while plenty of snarling engine sounds accompany its accelerative fury, the Vanquish is generally on the more genteel side of the supercar spectrum. Though edgier and more capable than its predecessor, this is still more of a gentleman's grand touring coupe than an all-out supercar.
Swinging open the upwardly tilting "swan" doors reveals an imaginatively upholstered interior with unusual combinations of hand-stitched Bridge of Weir Luxmil leather and Alcantara. While the 1,000-watt, 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo offers stunning sound and the instrument panel is a blend of jewelry-like minimalism and elegance, Aston's new center stack design isn't quite as intuitive as we'd like -- and the multimedia system's 6.5-inch screen still pops out of the dash with all the modernity of Stonehenge.
With the Aston Martin Vanquish, you'll have to leave your functional and practical expectations at home. This British-built range-topper is still a quirky offering more renowned for its personality and character than its do-it-all perfection. Despite its lack of practicality and abundance of quirks, the Vanquish nonetheless manages to distinguish itself from the high-dollar sports car crowd thanks to its hand-built charisma and undeniable style.
AutoTrader Recommends: The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish may not be the quickest or the best handling exotic, but it's certainly one of the most luxurious and elegant. It's a welcome alternative to more overt 6-figure sports cars from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini.