Who can forget those immortal words: “Now pay attention Bond, this is your Aston Martin.”
They ended 007’s brief and over-commercialized flirtation with BMW and put him firmly back in his rightful place, behind the wheel of an Aston.
That was 2001, the film Die Another Day, and the car, the sensational big-V12 Aston Martin Vanquish.
The hairy-chested Vanquish stayed in production till July 2007 when it was replaced by the slightly less testosterone-fueled DBS. While the S looked cool, and Daniel Craig got to debut it in Casino Royale where it entered the Guinness Book of Records for the most body rolls – seven complete turns to be precise – it was no Vanquish.
Thankfully, after five years of production, the DBS has been laid to rest and the Vanquish name is back, in a successor that packs more raw power, more stretch-out cabin space and every body panel crafted from lightweight carbon fiber.
A smidgen longer, taller and wider than the DBS, the Vanquish focuses on offering driver and passenger – two seats are standard, 2+2 an option – a fair bit more interior space. The seats now go back further, there’s more elbow room and headroom, and there’s now space in the trunk to carry more than a Walther PPK.
Powering this new Aston flagship is a heavily re-worked version of the Cosworth-designed 6.0-liter V-12. A revised cylinder block, new cylinder heads, bigger throttle bodies and dual variable valve timing conjures-up an extra 50 ponies taking max power up to 565 hp. Torque also increases too, from 420 lb-ft to 457 lb-ft.
Using a new motorsport-derived launch-control program – a first for an Aston Martin – this new Vanquish should cover the 0-to-60 mph dash in around 4.0 seconds. That’s a biggish improvement on the DBS’s 4.3 second time. Though for some reason, top speed drops by 8mph, from 191 mph for the DBS to a still pretty-rapid 183mph.
If there’s a challenge for this new Vanquish, it’s that the supercar world has moved on in just the past few months. Ferrari raised the bar with its brand new, blunt-instrument F12 Berlinetta with its massive 730 hp punch. Even Chrysler’s new SRT Viper, while not a real rival, will deliver a wild 650 hp.
And while this new Vanquish, which goes on sale in early 2013, undoubtedly looks breathtaking, is it really that much different from the old DBS, which looked a lot like the DB9, which looks pretty similar to the Virage? You could argue that Aston designers are becoming as ideas-starved as the guys who design Porsche’s 911.
Yes, that wild, Mexican Wave-like lower air-splitter at the front will turn heads, as will those big, blistered arches over the wheels. But only the cognoscenti are likely to see it as something other than another DBS limited edition.
A true Vanquish deserves better than that. More shaken, less stirred.