Remember the special edition Aston Martin DBS Ultimate? It turns out its nomenclature wasn't simply marketing hyperbole. Not only did that small batch of sports cars celebrate the end of the DBS model, but also the end of the DBS name: Aston has instead chosen to call its successor the 2013 Vanquish.
Sound familiar? It should: the name was used on Aston's flagship V-12 sports car from 2001 until 2007 when it was replaced by the then-new DBS. And if the finished product above looks familiar, it should. It was more or less completely revealed at the exclusive Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance in late May, although officials merely referred to it as a concept then. Now, however, they're more than happy to call the Vanquish "the ultimate expression of Aston Martin design ethos, engineering innovation, and technical ability."
Et Tu, One-77?
As was previewed on the banks of Lake Como, the new Vanquish blends cues from the DBS, the limited-production V12 Zagato, and the exotic One-77 super car into a surprisingly clean form.
The signature Aston grille remains in place up front, though it's now flanked by longer, crisper, LED-lined headlamps, along with a massive front splitter crafted from exposed carbon fiber. The Vanquish's side profile is a little more dramatic than before; its coke-bottle rear fenders and haunches are more curvaceous and exaggerated than before, while the traditional fender vent and side strake now extends into the front door skins. As was the case on the previous DBS, the majority of the Vanquish's body panels are crafted from carbon fiber reinforced plastics, yet none so elegantly or extravagantly as the so-called Aero Duct, an enclosed decklid spoiler seamlessly crafted from a single piece of carbon fiber in a manner that would make M.C. Escher swoon.
Lavish interiors are Aston Martin's hallmark, and the Vanquish doesn't stray from that tradition. It does, however, offer a little extra space (legroom increases by 1.5 inches; elbow room grows 3.5 inches), a little extra flair (dig those quilted seat bolsters), and a little more technology than before. The biggest departure from the DBS is the center stack - though it still boasts push-button transmission and starter controls, switchgear for both climate and audio systems has been replaced with a sexy capacitive touch interface, complete with haptic feedback.
Breathing New Life into Old Bones
Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez once told us his company's VH platform's "modular character allows us to elegantly integrate new systems and elements." Lo and behold, the 2013 Vanquish's underpinnings appear to confirm by Bez's vision.
The so-called second generation VH platform is quite similar to the previous bonded aluminum structure, though it now incorporates additional carbon fiber elements within its tub in an effort to save weight. (Sure enough, a completed Vanquish tips the scales at 3613 pounds, 123 fewer than a 2012 DBS Carbon Edition). Aston claims the chassis' torsional rigidity has increased by 25 percent, and that its center of gravity has been lowered thanks to a new engine cradle design. The independent front- and rear suspension designs remain largely unchanged while the standard adaptive damper now boasts three settings over last year's two.
Speaking of engine, the 2013 Vanquish continues to use a 5.9-liter, DOHC V-12 (Aston ignores significant figure rules and calls it a 6.0-liter engine), though it has been extensively massaged for its latest lease on life. Engineers have revised the aluminum block, added variable intake and exhaust valve timing, enlarged throttle bodies, ratcheted compression up slightly, and upgraded the fuel pump in order to produce a little more power. Aston rates this revised V-12 at 565 hp at 6750 rpm, which is 55 hp more than the DBS offered. Torque rises 37 lb-ft to 457 lb-ft, and is delivered at 5500 rpm.
Unlike the DBS, the 2013 Vanquish is only available with Aston's six-speed sequential manual transaxle. This quick-shifting gearbox, along with the use of a new launch control system, helps the Vanquish return some fairly impressive performance figures. Aston says the car can sprint from 0-62 mph in 4.1 seconds (a 0.2-second improvement), and reach an electronically limited top-end of 183 mph.
Any Color You Like, So Long As It's Expensive
Despite these revisions, the Vanquish remains true to Aston's tradition of hand-crafting opulent, well-appointed sports cars. Standard equipment includes a full-grain leather interior (Aston says it takes nearly seven hides to trim a single car), an Alcantara headliner, a 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system, Bluetooth phone pairing, iPod/iPhone integration, and an in-car Wi-Fi hub.
The options list runs even longer, and includes things like an exposed carbon fiber roof panel, 20-spoke diamond-turned aluminum wheels, painted brake calipers, and unique interior trim that allows each car to have a personalized feel.
Can one truly put a price tag on such a blend of power, style, and prestige? Aston Martin certainly can. The 2013 Vanquish -- sans options -- should cost close to $280,000 when it reaches American dealers in early 2013. Expensive? Perhaps, but far less so than the limited-volume V12 Zagato, or the million-dollar One-77.
2013 Aston Martin Vanquish
On Sale: Early 2013
Base Price: $280,000 (est)
Engine: 5.9-liter DOHC V-12 with variable valve timing
Output: 565 hp @ 6750 rpm
Torque: 457 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed sequential manual
Length: 184.7 in
Width: 81.4 in
Height: 1280 mm
Wheelbase: 50.4 inches
Weight: 3613 pounds