Aston Martin Vanquish S | Car Review

Aston Martin's Vanquish S is the last in the brand's line of normally aspirated V12s. Graham Courtney pays tribute to a remarkable example of British muscle car

If you like your muscle cars to be technically straight forward with none of that turbo or supercharged carry on, then you will love the Aston Martin Vanquish S. But, make the most of it, because this will be the last of the normally aspirated V12s from Aston. From now on, you’ll be getting engines with a turbo, or two, bolted on. 

At first glance, the Vanquish S is actually a bit odd in many respects because its main competitor is, well, another Aston – the new DB11 to be precise. However, once you’ve driven both cars you realise that they’re very different. The DB11 is ultra-modern in every respect while the Vanquish S harkens back to the previous generation Astons. 

In our eyes, that’s no bad thing. The Vanquish is a stunning-looking car. This latest model has been given a few styling tweaks, which make it even more aggressive yet actually improves the aerodynamic features of the car. The suspension has been revised to not only sharpen handling but also improve the ride. Bearing in mind that this is a 200mph, 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, super car, the ride is uncannily smooth. Even at town speeds you’re not at risk of losing any fillings. You can adjust the dampers to ‘sport mode’ which tightens the handling but, unless you are either heading for a racetrack or aiming for a bit of fun on the twisty stuff, the car is extremely refined in normal mode. 

As with all Aston Martins, the soundtrack from the engine and exhaust is an absolute joy. This latest V12 595bhp has the most glorious burble at tickover. Suddenly, waiting at traffic lights becomes something to look forward to. Firing-up the Vanquish S is not subtle. You’ll waken the slumbering residents in a neighbouring county. Press D on the centre console (no levers for the eight-speed auto, just buttons), drop the handbrake (yes, it’s a manual parking brake) and head off for an adventure. 

When you get onto the open road, the Vanquish settles into a relaxed cruise – it is the ideal Grand Tourer. However, floor the throttle and the car hurls itself at the horizon. The noise and acceleration are outstanding. Roadholding levels are staggering. Put it this way, your courage will run out long before the car’s ability to hang on does. You’ll need to be doing something incredibly stupid to get into trouble. (That’s not a challenge, by the way.)

The interior is a work of art. It has spider’s web stitching all over the place. OK, some of the electronics – like the sat nav screen – look a bit dated, but everything else is utterly gorgeous.

With a 6.0-litre V12 engine earning its keep under the bonnet, it will suck juice at a rate of knots. Aston Martin reckons the Vanquish S will do a shade over 21mpg. Hmmm… you’ll be lucky – or, at least, very restrained. However, with a starting price of £199,950, we suspect that you might be able to stretch to filling the tank.

The Vanquish S may be the end of the line for ‘traditional’ Astons, but it is still a remarkable, wonderful piece of machinery and art. The Vanquish S is arguably one of the most handsome Astons every built – and is certainly one of the most accomplished. For more information, see astonmartin.com