2015 Aston Martin Vanquish

8.8
2015 Aston Martin Vanquish

The Basics:

The Aston Martin Vanquish is a work of art. Enthralling the eyes, captivating the ears, stimulating the touch. It's one of the most impressive grand touring cars in the world. For the 2015 model year, it's even quicker, faster, and more fun to drive—plus it gets better gas mileage.

The 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish coupe and Volante represent marked improvements over last year's version, offering a world-class super-luxury GT experience.

Starting at $284,995 for the coupe or $302,995 for the Volante roadster (both prices excluding $2,825 delivery fee), the 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish is also among the most expensive of the world's GTs. As you'd expect of such a car, however, the Aston lives up to its looks and its price with exquisite materials, hand-built craftsmanship, and thrilling dynamics.

While the look and feel of the Vanquish is much like that found in the Vantage range and the Rapide, Aston's top GT is in many ways a distillation of the aesthetic, using a carbon fiber body shell to extract more dramatic takes than would be possible with stamped metal. The sharp crease along the side and the one-piece trunk-lid/wing spoiler are prime examples of this tech-enabled display of muscular, sculpted design.

The interior, too, is rich and opulent. Quilted or stitched leather, solid metal trim, and high-quality plastic make up the materials array. While the styling of the interior is growing a bit dated in some Astons, the Vanquish looks the part of the modern super-GT. It also feels like a million bucks—not bad for a car that only costs a third of that figure.

Seating is comfortable, if not hugely adjustable due to the snug two-seater confines. Headroom is never a problem for most occupants, either in the Vanquish coupe or the Volante. The rear seat can be swapped with a more functional cargo shelf that includes a net to pin items down during, ahem, brisk drives. Convertible Volante versions can fold and stow the top in 14 seconds, up to 30 mph, for visceral drives.

As for the 2015 model year updates, the main difference is the replacement of the previous Touchtronic II 6-speed automatic gearbox with the much smoother, quicker, and more efficient Touchtronic III 8-speed automatic. To say this new gearbox upgrades the character and driving enjoyment of the Vanquish is to put it mildly. It utterly changes the car's character, making it livelier in sporty driving, smoother around town, and overall more pleasant and engaging to operate, whether you're driving in automatic mode or using the paddle shifters.

Opting for the paddle shifters brings some clever features that we like. Holding the downshift paddle turns on a multi-ratio downshift feature that automatically selects the lowest gear after braking—useful for track driving—and will learn driver's shift patterns to customize for each owner.

Of course, that new gearbox isn't the only update for 2015. The engine gets a new Bosch management system, too, to match the increased capabilities of the new transmission, allowing the 6.0-liter V-12 engine's 568 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque to rocket the coupe to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds—the Volante hits the mark in 3.8 seconds. Those figures represent reductions of about half a second against last year's model. Top speeds are also higher now, thanks to extended gearing, at 201 mph for the coupe and 197 mph for the Volante. Gas mileage, while still not great, improves slightly to 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.

Driving the Vanquish, it's impossible to forget the car's width and mass—both rather large, despite the carbon fiber body—but it's also impossible not to wear a face-splitting grin. Raucous sound, incredible thrust, potent grip—all are available in spades. The steering feel isn't as tuned-in as a pure sports car, which takes some confidence out of the driver, but the mellower feel is welcome on longer highway drives. For the 2015 model year, the steering is a touch crisper than before, thanks to a re-tuned profile for the power assist in the car's ECU. As for the curb weight, the Vanquish tips the scales at a tick over 3,900 pounds. The weight is noticeable on the brakes and in the corners, but it's never a burden thanks to that brilliant V-12 under the hood. Updated dampers on the Vanquish for the 2015 model year also improve its ability to handle both its heft and the curves, with 15 percent stiffer front and 35 percent stiffer rear dampers.

Visual customization is also a hallmark of Aston Martin's bespoke build process, and for the 2015 model year a few new options are available. New ten-spoke forged alloy wheels offer a variety of finishes as well as 15 pounds in weight savings; new paint colors including the V12 Zagato's stunning Diavolo Red; new leather trim color options including blue-black (Dark Knight) and Fandango Pink. For those desiring a sportier look, there are Carbon Edition packages that add the eponymous material as trim inside and out.

Equipment-wise, the Aston offers the luxury basics: navigation, excellent audio in the form of a 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen system, iPod and iPhone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and WiFi.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are likely to crash test the car due to the 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish's limited sales volume and prohibitive price. With its state-of-the-art construction, very good on-road dynamics, and modern safety equipment list, buyers can expect it to offer good protection in an accident, as well as the inherent poise to enable the driver to avoid many on-road hazards.

Buying Tips:

It's your $300,000, but Vanquish buyers would do well to rein in their impulse-purchase tendencies and ordering a truly bespoke creation to suit their every taste.

Other Choices:

  • 2015 Jaguar XK
  • 2015 Porsche 911
  • 2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
  • 2015 Lamborghini Aventador

Reason Why:

While both are British, Jaguar's XKR-S and XKR-R are less expensive (and less exclusive), and offer much of the style and elegant grand touring appeal; both of the harder-core Jaguar models also offer more focused performance. Porsche's 911 range spans a great deal of price categories, but at the top, the 911 Turbo S offer far greater performance and driver engagement than the Vanquish, though the top 911 does come up short in the exotic looks and hand-crafted interior departments. Ferrari's F12 Berlinetta is, in most ways, even more "out there" than the Vanquish, trading classic good looks for futuristic styling--and packing a true brute of an engine. Lamborghini's Aventador goes a step farther, well into mid-engined hypercar territory with its looks and speed, but lacks the refinement and elegance of the Aston Martin.

The Bottom Line:

The 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish coupe and Volante represent marked improvements over last year's version, offering a world-class super-luxury GT experience.

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