Cult Cars Road Tests

Cult Cars 15: Aston Martin Vanquish

Time 12:31 pm, August 15, 2009

vanquishGROWN men go weak at the knees. Women swoon. Small children explode with excitement.

No, there are not many cars that offer the visual stun of an Aston Martin Vanquish; it’s the world’s most powerful automotive tazar shot. 

Launched in 2001, the Vanquish was Aston Martin diving straight into the 21st century. The DB7 had been beautiful – still is – but, by then, was getting on a bit. Waiting in the wings was an entire new range of cars, with a completely new design language.

But, they weren’t quite ready. What was needed was impact NOW. A supercar superhero, fit for a super spy. As if by magic, along came the Vanquish: The original modern-day Bond car.

It’s still utterly contemporary and up to date. All modern Astons use the design language its father Ian Callum introduced – taken to the extreme in the £1.2m One-77 – but it’s at its purest and most evocative here. This was Aston leaving some of the stuffy past creations way behind… 

This was Aston, taking the DB6, and transporting it straight into the modern age. Powering it were not a couple of jet engines, but the 5.9-litre V12 came bloody close. Wailing out 460bhp, it was in fact a brace of V6s cleverly mated together, and was controlled by a paddle-shift gearbox that gave F1 shifting when it was still a novelty. The reality was a bit less thrilling, as one shift jerked into another, but few cared. 

Because it not only sounded fast, it WAS fast: 195mph plus, and 60mph in 4.4secs. The 2005 Vanquish S was even better. This is the Aston Martin GT icon to have – it upped power to 520bhp, and showed this off with meatier styling and bigger brakes. Hardcore isn’t the word: here really was the 200mph Aston Martin! 

Well, 204mph, for the record. And 60mph in four seconds dead. Speaking of mortality, the car naturally came to fame first in the James Bond epic, Die Another Day. Surveys since have placed it right up with the Italian Job Minis in terms of film association. 

Those small children, prior to exploding, probably had a laser-equipped model taking pride of place in their toy box.

Today, the Vanquish is freely available for under £50,000. Indeed, if you really push things, and are prepared to accept cars with patchy history, you can get this down to £40,000. You’d be brave doing so, mind. 

Indeed, you really do need to buy carefully. Some car dealers report that Aston is still developing the famous firebrand – even cars in official franchised dealers today are not quite the finished article. Still receiving updates and tweakery to hone and perfect.

That’s all part of the charm. All part of the truly bespoke, special, hand-crafted feel. No, it doesn’t quite have the Teutonic efficiency of a Porsche. Yes, the sat nav is a pain and the air vents are from a Volvo. But, just look at it. Listen to it. Drive it, and try not to feel like JB himself…   


AM Vanquish

Price: £109,000

Engine: 5.9-litre, V12

Power: 460bhp, 540Nm

0-60mph: 4.4s

Max: 195mph

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James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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