Car Profile: 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish
All images from Automobile Magazine’s feature
I don’t know what it is about Aston Martins that causes me to involuntarily drool just a little bit every time I see one. Aside from the ultra-rare One-77 hypercar and Cygnet citycar (a $50,000-$70,000 rebadged Toyota/Scion iQ), the Vantage, DB9, and 4-door Rapide all basically look the same, just sized, priced, and engined differently. But what a gorgeous design it is. An Aston Martin in silver, light blue, or the hallowed British Racing Green will reduce even the manliest of men to a slack-jawed puddle upon gazing at one for too long.
Modern Astons are some of the most practical sports cars on the planet. Unlike Ferraris or the more expensive selection of Porsches, Aston Martin knows their customers will likely not be taking their cars to tackle the track, and instead focus on making their cars incredibly competent grand tourers, or GTs. A grand tourer is a two-door coupe that is designed to be a perfect balance between comfort and power. Practically, this means a very fast car capable of going on long road trips without breaking the backs of driver and passengers (most GTs have only two seats, but some have vestigial rear seats, typically only fit for very small children or luggage).
Aston Martin suffers somewhat by what I like to call the Porschification of its model lineup. As mentioned before, there are a total of five cars Aston offers, but 15 different combinations, and the Rapide, Cygnet, and One-77 are only offered in one style each. That means buyers can get the Vantage (the smallest GT) in a coupe or convertible, with or without the more powerful V8, and with the V12 from the much most expensive DBS.
The Vanquish will replace the larger DB9 and its variants, although a convertible will not be offered right away. The front-mounted 6.0L V-12 from the DBS has been bumped up 55hp to 565hp. The six-speed automated manual gearbox (“Touchtronic” in Aston-speak) soldiers on, although one wonders why a seven- or eight-speed is not standard, as they are in many competitors’. A GT is supposed to be a bit more laid back than a true supercar, so having an extra gear for fuel economy’s sake makes sense.
Oddly, Aston has chosen to continue with transmission buttons for park, neutral, reverse and drive. Before the previous Vanquish, I’m not sure that any car manufacturer has used transmission buttons since the Ford Edsel’s Teletouch in the 50s or Dodge’s TorqueFlite around the same time. It’s certainly an antiquated system, and Maserati has proven that a normal automatic shifting lever, done well, can look fantastic in a premium automobile.
Aston strangely chose to keep button-selected transmission controls
The navigation system appears to have been upgraded, and the center console is now made of glass with simulated buttons that give off haptic feedback (where the screen gives off a physical vibration when pressed) so drivers don’t have to constantly look at the center console to adjust air conditioning and so forth. It all seems like a solution to a problem that shouldn’t have existed in the first place, however. I can’t see the value in moving from analog to digital controls in the center stack, as this will just add to the growing list of things that distract drivers. This is a growing trend among car manufacturers, not just Aston (at least in concept vehicles), but I’m not sure it’s one that will last.
The exterior gets an updated treatment as well, with a revised front fascia with a beautifully sculpted naked carbon fiber splitter, fixed rear wing, and LEDs all over the place. A dedicated Aston enthusiast could point out the differences on the current cars and decipher the model and trim, but even to me, they are almost indistinguishable. The Vanquish is the first new model that is immediately different from the rest of the lineup, the aforementioned Cygnet and Rapide excluded.
LED taillights and fixed rear wing are new
The 2014 Vanquish carries on the GT heritage of Aston and is the first true new AM since its majority separation with Ford. All that it needs now is another gear and the abolition of those beautiful but seriously outdated transmission buttons.