New Van­quish a pricey but re­fined of­fer­ing

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

The Go

Niche brand As­ton Martin sur­vives in part be­cause of its evo­lu­tion­ary pol­icy that ap­plies in­cre­men­tal developments to in­com­ing mod­els, rather than pro­duc­ing a suc­ces­sion of all-new cars. Hence the new V12 Van­quish, suc­ces­sor to the DBS, best known to most as James Bond’s car. Where the One-77 uses a car­bon fi­bre mono­coque chas­sis and alu­minium skin, the Van­quish re­verses it, the bonded alu­minium chas­sis stiffer than the DBS and hous­ing amore pow­er­ful, more ef­fi­cient nor­mally-as­pi­rated V12 engine, with 421kW and 620Nm put to the rear wheels via a six-speed auto trans­mis­sion to pro­pel this mighty car from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 dra­matic sec­onds. The drama comes not just from its power but the sound­track. Press the sport but­ton to ac­cess in­creased vigour and open valves in the ex­haust that de­liver a heady shot of testos­terone to the sound­track. Given this is a GT car – de­signed to de­liver dis­tance-eat­ing com­fort in a sporty pack­age rather than hard-core sports per­for­mance – it’s no sur­prise that Van­quish feels more re­fined than the DBS. But it also han­dles bet­ter, the sus­pen­sion cop­ing with the big hits of our luridly bumpy test route, all but eras­ing the sharp ones and adding phe­nom­e­nal grip to han­dle cor­ners with con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing surety. Car­bon ce­ramic brakes haul you up with neck­snap­ping force but with­out the au­ral drama of ear­lier gen­er­a­tions.

Show

There was plenty of show at the in­ter­na­tional launch, set at the pri­vate­ly­owned Tyring­ham Hall, with its team of but­lers and cooks, and its fab­u­lous col­lec­tion of art. Parked round the oval drive­way’s foun­tain were six of the $430,000 cars, each with a route book tak­ing us through 150 kilo­me­tres of back lanes to lunch at New­mar­ket’s jockey club, be­fore an equally chal­leng­ing re­turn. Then there’s the car it­self. A sin­gle un­painted ver­sion re­vealed the full car­bon fi­bre shell in all its high­ly­lac­quered glory, com­plete with a rear boot-top ‘‘duct’’ that re­sem­bles a spoiler but is part of the one-piece mould­ing to help cre­ate down­force at speed. Inside, there are lash­ings of leather, bliss­fully com­fort­able seats fur­ther de­vel­oped from the Rapide’s, an ex­ten­sive spec­i­fi­ca­tion list and a gor­geous glass-smooth dash into which you in­sert the glass key – and yes, fin­ger­prints do ac­cu­mu­late fast.

Com­pany spin

As­ton’s de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers must walk a fine line to cre­ate a car that feels both dev­as­tat­ingly quick and com­fort­able over long dis­tances. The car­bon skin saves 6kg and al­lows the shap­ing of one-piece pan­els which couldn’t be built of sheet met­als; the engine-bay cross-brace is now one piece, not two; a dou­ble-clutch auto would add 30kg and an eight-speeder feel too busy, while this car needs just sec­ond-to­fourth gears to ac­cess the meat of the torque for smooth and rapid de­liv­ery. Small im­prove­ments on each model are used to help de­velop the next, sim­pli­fy­ing the process for a small com­pany that re­lies on an ex­clu­sive flavour for part of its ap­peal.

Bou­quet

To As­ton’s de­sign team for cre­at­ing a faster, stiffer, more pow­er­ful, bet­ter­han­dling car that’s also more com­fort­able and re­fined, a dif­fi­cult bal­ance to achieve. As is the com­bi­na­tion of quiet cabin while cruis­ing, and testos­terone-ad­dled roar un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Brick­bat

The car costs $430,000 in New Zealand – at that price it should be good.

Skil­ful re­fine­ment: The As­ton Martin Van­quish

is im­pres­sive.

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