2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Editor
June 1, 2018

Beauty, power, and capable handling come together in the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S to make it one of the most appealing grand touring cars on the market.

The 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S seats two, rips across the pavement with V-12 power, and coddles its passengers in a cocoon of ultra-luxury finishes. It's just what we hope feeling rich will feel like. Once we get there, that is.

Aston's top sports car has more power this year, a revised suspension, and new bits borrowed from the Vulcan.

It is offered as a coupe or a convertible called Volante. Beautiful, fast, loud, and a dynamic performer, we rate the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S a 7.6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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With its evolution to S spec, the Vanquish’s naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V-12 increases from 568 to 580 horsepower while torque remains the same at 465 pound-feet. The 8-speed automatic transmission is updated to deliver faster shifts and better refinement at low speeds, and the suspension is upgraded with new tuning for the dampers, new spring rates, and revised sway bar bushings, all for sharper handling.

The most obvious changes are to the outside, where an exposed carbon-fiber front splitter and rear diffuser inspired by the Vulcan give the car a more aggressive look. New exterior options include carbon-fiber hood louvers, new forged five-spoke diamond turned wheels, and a range of painted graphics packs.

The Vanquish S is a higher-end model based on the aluminum-intensive last-generation platform that it shared with the DB9. Unlike the DB9, however, the Vanquish S uses carbon fiber for the body panels and some of the trunk structure, and the Vanquish S comes only with a V-12 engine instead of a V-12 and a V-8.

The V-12 is a raucous piece of machinery that can push this car to speeds in excess of 200 mph and launch it from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds. It also offers the lusty engine note that has become a signature of Aston Martins.

On the road, the Vanquish S is an accomplished grand tourer. It handles well, and adaptive dampers help keep the firm ride from becoming harsh. However, despite its extensive use of carbon fiber, the Vanquish S is somewhat heavy and that prevents it from becoming a pure sports car.

Inside, high-quality materials and more appealing design make the Vanquish S a fine place to be...for front seat passengers. The rear seat is so tiny it isn’t even standard. This is a 2+2, and that rear seat is maybe better left as a package shelf with a cargo net.

Priced at close to $300,000, the Vanquish S is well-equipped and buyers can choose many features to customize the look of their cars inside and out. Safety features, however, are limited to the basics. The answer is simple. Don’t crash your very expensive car.

Fuel economy, predictably, is rather poor from that big V-12.

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2018 Aston Martin Vanquish

Styling

The 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S is a classic grand touring beauty be it as a coupe or convertible.

The Vanquish S is aligned with Aston Martin’s old guard. Its styling reflects the DB9 more than the current generation DB11. That’s not to say it isn’t beautiful. It has the long hood and iconic snout that has made Aston Martins some of the most stylish cars of the last 60 years. Wide rear haunches give it a muscular appearance as well. Inside, it’s elegant, with a “waterfall” dash accented by the finest materials. We rate the Vanquish S 10 out of 10 for its exceptional exterior and excellent interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2018, the Vanquish S gets a styling update with a new Vulcan-inspired exposed carbon-fiber front splitter and rear diffuser. It’s more aggressively styled while delivering more high-speed stability, reduced front lift, and a minimal penalty in additional drag.

The Vanquish S is sleek from every angle. Flanking its gaping front maw are a pair of sinister eye-slit headlights. The hood flows back from the grille and it has a noticeable bulge in its center, as well as a pair of louvers at the outside edges that can be outfitted with a variety of finishes. Similar gills are found along the front fenders and they flow into the doors.

The roof is a thing of beauty, forming a classic coupe shape, rising gracefully, then falling away and tapering at the rear as the fenders swell to define that wide rear end. It creates a bold, muscular, and elegant presence. The Volante’s roof cuts the same basic shape, but it doesn’t flow as well and isn’t quite as beautiful.

A ducktail spoiler, boomerang taillights, a massive rear diffuser, and quad exhaust outlets define the strong rear end.

The cockpit is also quite elegant. That waterfall dashboard cascades down the middle of the cabin, highlighted by Aston Martin’s signature push-button gear selector and crystal ignition button. Buyers can choose from stitched or quilted leather; three different types of carbon fiber, plus piano black or iridium for the center stack trim; and they can even pick the color of the dials. Prominent stitching is found on all the leather and the gauges are analog and look like fine watch faces. The look is modern, clean, and feels like it’s worth the considerable price you pay.

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2018 Aston Martin Vanquish

Performance

The 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S is a super grand tourer with raucous V-12 power, an advanced suspension, and state-of-the-art brakes.

With the incredible thrust of a V-12, the stopping power of carbon ceramic brakes, and adaptive dampers, the Vanquish S is a very capable and somewhat comfortable super sports car. It's not lightweight, which somewhat compromises performance. Still, we give it points for acceleration, handling, braking, and transmission performance, rating it a 9 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The transformation from Vanquish to Vanquish S means more power, and that is accomplished through larger volume intake manifolds that increase horsepower from 568 to 580. Torque remains the same at 465 lb-ft. For better low-speed drivability, a driveline damper is added and the ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission is recalibrated for quicker shift times.

The Vanquish was already fast, with a 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds, a raucous engine note, and a top speed in excess of 200 mph, and the Vanquish S promises to be even faster. The 8-speed automatic was also quite lively during aggressive driving and smooth around town. With these changes, it should be even more engaging to operate either with the paddle shifters or simply in Drive.

Speaking of those paddle shifters, if you hold the left paddle to downshift, the transmission will choose the lowest possible gear during braking to give you the most available power coming out of a turn. Unlike other transmissions with Sport+ modes, however, there is no mode to make this gearbox a high-strung, track-ready unit. For that purpose, you will have to shift it yourself, despite the fact that it learns your behavior through its Adaptive Drive Recognition system.

Also as part of the change to Vanquish S, the car gets revisions to the dampers, spring rates, and sway bar bushings, all designed to provide a sportier experience. Again, we haven’t driven the 2018 model, but these updates should change the car’s character minimally.

The Vanquish has always been a wide and somewhat heavy car, despite its carbon-fiber body panels. Still, it could grip the pavement with vigor, and that shouldn’t change. Perhaps the suspension tweaks can add a bit more steering feel, which has been an issue.

The Vanquish S weighs in at a crumpet or two over 3,900 pounds. The excess weight means the Vanquish S won’t carve a corner like a Porsche 911, but it’s still capable and it will always put a cat-that-ate-the-canary grin on your face. The adjustable dampers help keep the ride firm but forgiving, though the Sport and Track modes become too harsh for daily driving.

With carbon-ceramic brakes at all four corners, the only time braking is an issue is when it’s time to replace the very expensive rotors.

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2018 Aston Martin Vanquish

Comfort & Quality

With a high-end but cramped cabin and a tiny rear seat, the place to be in the Aston Martin Vanquish S is the driver’s seat.

Even more than the DB11, the Aston Martin Vanquish S presents a confined environment. The front seat will work just fine for two occupants, but the back seat is no more than vestigial. Nonetheless, the quality of the materials is top notch. We give the Vanquish S a 6 for comfort and quality, adding points for front seat comfort and materials, but subtracting a point for that back seat. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Volante’s top opens at speeds up to 30 mph in about 14 seconds. Both body styles offer a comfortable experience for the two front-seat occupants, with good leg room and head room, which becomes unlimited in the Volante, though elbow room is tight in this purpose-built sports car.

The back seat, on the other hand, is better used as a package shelf. In fact, it comes standard with one, complete with a cargo net to secure small items during the aggressive driving you will be tempted to perform in this super sports car.

The cabin’s construction is high-end, highlighted by such materials as quilted Bridge of Weir Caithness leather, carbon fiber, Alcantara, and controls that look like jewelry.

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2018 Aston Martin Vanquish

Safety

The 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S lacks modern safety features, so don’t crash your $300,000 sports car.

The U.S. agencies that crash-test cars haven’t come near any Aston Martin and we don’t expect them to any time soon. Due for a redesign, the Vanquish S especially won’t be tested. It also has a minimum of safety features, though its solid construction should help in the case of a crash. Still, without crash-test results, we can’t give it a score for safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S comes standard with six airbags and a rearview camera. It has no optional safety features, and it has not been crash tested.

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2018 Aston Martin Vanquish

Features

The 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S is well-equipped and highly customizable.

The 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S comes well equipped, but it should given its high price. Aston Martin buyers can personalize the interior and exterior with various colors and finishes. We rate it an 8 for features given its healthy list of standard and customizing features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Standard features include automatic climate control, power-adjustable heated front sport seats, leather upholstery, an Alcantara headliner, memory for the front seats and exterior mirrors, heated and power-folding exterior mirrors, power windows, and power locks. Infotainment functions include the Aston Martin AMi III infotainment system with a 6.5-inch center screen, Apple CarPlay compatability, Bluetooth, AM/FM radio, and a 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system with 13 speakers. On the outside it gets carbon-fiber components for the front splitter, door sills, exterior mirrors, and rear diffuser; titanium hood louvers; and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Options consist of ventilated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a universal garage door opener, lightweight front seats, magnesium or carbon-fiber hood louvers, a carbon-fiber roof, carbon-fiber side strakes and grille, upgraded leather, a leather headliner, carbon-fiber interior components, and a One-77 steering wheel in black or other colors. Aston Martin also lets buyers personalize their Vanquishes through its bespoke Q program.

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2018 Aston Martin Vanquish

Fuel Economy

At 16 mpg combined, the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S drinks up fuel like it attracts eyeballs.

With a V-12 stuffed under its sensuous hood, the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S is about anything but fuel economy. It’s no surprise that it drinks fuel at a rather alarming clip. We rate it a 5 for fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the Vanquish at 13 mpg city, 21 highway, 16 combined, and it requires premium fuel, too. Break out the AmEx Black Card when driving the Vanquish S.

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$294,950
MSRP based on S Coupe
 
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7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 10
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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