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January 11, 2013

My Shades of Grey Moment: The Aston Martin Vanquish 2014

004-aston-martin-vanquishThis story began at a New Orleans race track. I was test driving the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish with my own driving instructor.

I could bore you with superlatives or say, very honestly, that after many years of trying out vehicles on racetracks, this time I got it! The exhilarating feel of driving at speed, the sound of the engine, the smell of the leather, the way the Vanquish catches light when it is in motion. Yes, I finally understood the lure of the racetrack and the draw of the Aston Martin. And yes --(ladies you will understand) ---it was a ‘shades of grey’ moment!

The long and short of it: the Vanquish is the latest in the company’s 99-year history. It all started with Lionel Martin, a motor racing enthusiast, who teamed up with Robert Bamford in 1913 to sell Singer cars and adapt them to the grueling up-hill challenges that were a key part of motorsports at the time. 

The partners decided to manufacture cars of their own and came up with the name Aston Martin, a combination of Aston Hill (where Martin competed in climbs) and the driver’s last name. The first Aston Martin, registered in 1914, was fitted with a Coventry Simplex side-valve engine. Known as the “Coal Scuttle,” the original was a far cry from the supercar we know today.

Since that time, the company has changed owners numerous times and has won multitudes of famous races. In 1996, the DB7 Volante made its return to North America at the Detroit and L.A. Auto Shows. In 2001, the V12 Vanquish was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
The Aston Martin is also renowned for its starring role in several James Bond movies, including the latest, Skyfall, where the DB5 was featured.

016-aston-martin-vanquishAt the unveiling of the 2014 Vanquish, Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ulrich Bez said, “Bearing the same name as the iconic AM V12 Vanquish that did so much to cement Aston Martin’s reputation as a maker of great GT cars in the modern era … this is the latest incarnation of everything we know, informed and developed from One-77. It is the ultimate Super Grand Tourer – confident and assured – and is the newest representation of power, beauty and soul.”

Designed and hand-built at Aston Martin’s global headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire, England, the Vanquish is Aston Martin’s most powerful production model to date, outdone only by the sold-out One-77 supercar.

The goal was to create a contemporary interpretation of the original Vanquish. Thus, the 2014 Vanquish incorporates One-77’s flowing waistline, elongated side strakes, curvy form and LED light blade rear clusters. A new design, the Aero Duct on the deck, counteracts lift at the car’s rear when moving at speed.

174-aston-martin-vanquishCarbon fiber plays a major role in the construction of the new Vanquish. Because of its high strength-to-weight ratio and flexibility, each of the body panels is constructed from carbon fiber.

A ring of exposed carbon fiber is featured at the base of the car. The weave direction was designed to flow with the car’s profile.

_AM_KX62BFE_007“There are no restrictions on form or shape when using carbon fiber,” said Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s Design Director. “The material allowed us to wrap bodywork around the 20-inch wheels and maintain the precise relationship between the wheel and the bodywork.”

At the heart of this powerful car is a hand-assembled engine. The 6.0-liter V12 engine has a peak power output of 565 bhp, has 457 lb. ft. of torque, goes from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds and reaches a top speed of 183 mph.

For a Disney-like experience, the motorsport-derived Launch Control system, a first for Aston Martin, lets you take off from a standing start. (We’re not talking about your usual acceleration—this is a racer type take-off). The system balances the throttle, gearbox and traction to deliver a smooth flight.

The Adaptive Damping System: normal, sport and track was more thrilling because I could actually envision myself using the normal and sport in everyday life. Dream on…

However, the braking system, with third generation Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes, is as awesome as it sounds. It’s stop-on-a-dime technology that even comes in bright colors (there’s the option of black, blue, yellow or red calipers).

The inside of the Vanquish is, as to be expected, high couture.

It takes over 70 hours of handcraftsmanship to build and trim one interior. Seven leather hides are used in each Vanquish. There are around one million separate stitches used in each new Vanquish quilted leather interior.

The interior trim is available in several materials including luxurious leathers, hand-stitched by Aston Martin’s crafts people.

This time around, Aston Martin went roomy. The new boot (trunk) is more than 60% larger than that of the DBS so that it can carry adequate luggage for a weekend retreat. The interior has 140% more storage space than the DBS. Even the cubby box was redesigned with more than three liters of storage space and has an integrated USB and AC point for portable devices.

_AM_KX62BFE_079We were too busy racing to check out the 1000W Bang & Olufsen 13-speaker audio system. However, if you’re getting off the track, the car comes with a Garmin satellite navigation system, 6.5” LCD Screen, iPod and iPhone Integration, Satellite radio system and Bluetooth audio and phone streaming. Etc. etc. 

And even if you are not a car nut (like me!), I think that you can picture these sparkling options. They include: 20-spoke alloy wheels in a silver, gloss black or graphite finish with diamond turning; black-vaned grille, matt black textured tailpipe, black, blue, yellow or red calipers, exposed carbon fiber roof panel, door mirror caps or door handles, center stack fascia in carbon fiber, piano red, piano black or piano ice mocha and full carbon fiber gearshift paddles.

If you visit the Aston Martin website, you’ll have to hunt for the price. Then again, when you’re buying an Aston Martin, it’s not about price. All that said, the 2014 Vanquish starts at $279,995.

Holly Reich



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