Aston Martin V12 Vanquish vs. Porsche 911 Turbo

Charlie Magee
Padel Shift View

Unfortunately, the new Aston Martin weighs in at just over 4000 pounds--a few pounds more than the DB7 Vantage coupe, which is put together the old-fashioned way. In stark contrast, the four-wheel-drive 911 Turbo is a true featherweight, tipping the scales at only 3395 pounds. On the road, the prime difference between the steel-bodied Porsche and the alloy-bodied Aston lies in the varying degree of compliance. The British car is more precise, more responsive, more accurate, more instantaneous in the way it acts and reacts. This is a carver, not a glider. It requires determined, unambiguous inputs, and it will reward you with razor-sharp execution. If you're looking for a machine that will invariably clip the apex within an inch of the mark, this is it. If you always dial in exactly the right amount of lock, always brake exactly at the right spot, and always start feeding the torque in again exactly when it is safe to do so, the Vanquish will make you feel invincible.

What the Aston does not tolerate is sloppy driving. Because it is such a tight and coherent mechanical package, the Vanquish needs to be kept on a short leash. It takes quite a while to get used to the rather light steering; initially, you tend to apply too much lock and to make late mid-corner adjustments. The car hates that. It will wriggle and shrug in response, and it may even bite back when you veer ridiculously far off the intended line. Flying at more than 100 mph over empty but pockmarked French back roads, the Vanquish remained calm and composed in synchronicity with its calm and composed driver. But at this kind of speed, misjudging a corner or underestimating the severity of a crest can result in a hair-raising fishtail protest or a not-so-gentle four-wheel slide. Stability control would help--if the Vanquish had it. The only electronic active-safety aids are traction control, a winter driving mode, and a sport mode that lets you rev the engine all the way to its 7000-rpm redline. Also conspicuous by their absence are any kind of side air bags and an integrated navigation system.

At 2.7 turns from lock to lock, the rack-and-pinion steering is pleasantly direct. It also never leaves you in any doubt about what the fat nineteen-inch Yokohama tires are up to. Undulating tarmac will produce a fair bit of pulling and tugging at the wheel, but despite the liveliness in your palms, there is rarely a need to correct. That steely stiffness also applies to the brakes, which respond instantly and decelerate well. Made by Brembo, they employ four-piston calipers straddling vented and drilled discs. When cold, the brake pedal feels wooden, and the required pressure is on the high side, but as the discs warm up, braking performance becomes smoother and more progressive. Although a car fitted with juggernaut 285/40ZR-19 rear tires should not suffer from a lack of grip and roadholding, the Vanquish will occasionally struggle to translate its 400 pound-feet of torque into traction, especially in the wet. Directional stability at high speed is good but not always impeccable, especially when longitudinal grooves and light crests are involved.

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