by Roger Biermann
The Aston Martin DB11 might be the all-round grand tourer from the Gaydon-based performance manufacturer, but if you’re looking for a British supercar that isn’t a McLaren, the Vanquish is as close as it gets. But after a five year run in its current generation, the Vanquish is nearing its demise. Upgraded to the Vanquish S for 2018, the recipe doesn’t change much; it just gets sharper, more powerful, and more enjoyable. Available as a standard 2+2 coupe, the Volante provides an alternative as a true grand touring open air experience.
Based on old Aston architecture, the Vanquish doesn’t reap the benefits of the Mercedes partnership like the DB11 does. There’s both good and bad in that – the bad being that the infotainment system is outdated and a bit sluggish, though it’s still vastly better than the old Volvo based system that used to feature in the cabin. But the cabin retains Aston Martin’s signature feel – including the crystal key insertion method of firing up the engine, and the handbrake lever mounted between the driver’s seat and door.
The coupe offers a 2+2 seating configuration, though the rear seats aren’t very usable and can be deleted. The front seats however offer ample space and refinement; with quilted leather and a gorgeous shape that offers plenty support, if not enough padding. Front visibility is decent, though rearward visibility has to be taken care of by a standard reverse camera and parking sensors.
For the 2018 model, the Vanquish S has received several upgrades, including a quicker transmission and upgraded suspension. 10% stiffer springs and a chunkier rear anti-roll bar and suspension bushings have had a largely beneficial effect on the ride quality in the Vanquish S – instead of making it jitterier it’s seemingly become more pliant – though still not quite to 911 or even McLaren levels of refinement. Bilstein adaptive dampers have a role to play in the improved ride, with a smarter algorithm responsible for quicker reactions to imperfections on the road.
The stiffer springs do however minimize body lean through corners, making the Vanquish S more composed, and more direct than it’s ever been before. The steering now feels weightier, but loses none of the feel it had before the addition of the S. The improvements to the Vanquish make it feel smaller and nimbler, with a finer balance as a sports car.
In its transition from Vanquish to Vanquish S, the naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V12 didn’t go without a bit of fettling. Revised intake manifolds bag the V12 a bump in power, up 12 horsepower to 580hp, with a torque figure of 465 lb-ft. The power figure is 15hp shy of the claimed European figure, though Aston gives no reason for the deficit – torque is unaffected by region. Power gets dutifully distributed to the brawny rear tires via an upgraded 8-speed automatic gearbox and a rear limited slip differential. Aston Martin claims 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds for the coupe, with a top speed of 201mph.
Standard equipment is generous but lacks frills in the Vanquish S – a result of the ageing platform. Still, you get Alcantara headlining, heated power front seats, front and rear parks sensors, a reverse camera, cruise control, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. A range of finishes can be optioned, with fine hand-sewn leather in varying colors and stitches available, as are ventilated seats, a dimming rearview mirror, and a One-77 derived steering wheel. Safety features include ABS brakes with EBD and carbon ceramic discs, stability control, and emergency brake assist.
The Aston Martin Vanquish S is feeling its age, but the charm of a naturally aspirated V12 engine and classic Aston Martin styling make this a memorable GT car that borders on true supercar allure. It’s less powerful than the DB11, more expensive – but a one of a kind experience.