The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, often shortened to Vanquish, was designed by Ian Callum, and is a grand tourer manufactured by Aston Martin. From its 2001 introduction to its cancellation, it was Aston Martin’s flagship vehicle. Its rise to recognition by the wider public came after being featured as the official James Bond car in Die Another Day, the twentieth James Bond film.
The Vanquish S has received subtle but effective changes to complement its elegant muscular body. The famous Aston Martin grille has a new rounded and more open appearance for better cooling, and an aerodynamic splitter improves high-speed stability.
The Vanquish was developed in the wake of a GT concept car, the Project Vantage concept car, which debuted with a V-12 engine at the North American International Auto Show in January 1998. The production model was unveiled in 2000, and series production began in 2001 (the car arrived in the United States as a 2002 model).
The car was largely unchanged until 2005, when the Vanquish S model debuted at the 2004 Paris Auto Show , with more power, slight styling revisions, and new wheels. It also incorporated the features of a 2004 option package, the Sports Dynamic Pack, which incorporated sportier suspension, steering, and brake features. This model was sold for the 2005 (alongside the base Vanquish) and 2006 (as a stand-alone) model years in the United States with only minor running changes; it was not sold in the States for 2007.
The end of the Vanquish’s production run was celebrated with the Vanquish Ultimate Edition. Aston Martin announced that the last 40 cars built would have a new ‘Ultimate Black’ exterior color, upgraded interior, and personalized sill plaques. More significantly, the Ultimate Edition was the first Vanquish to be offered with a conventional stick-shift manual transmission. The auto-shift manual gearbox in the original Vanquish has been widely criticized (perhaps most infamously by Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC’s Top Gear program), so this change was greeted with approval by the automotive press. Aston Martin offered to retrofit the new gearbox to any Vanquish, for a cost of £13,250.
Aston Martin was frequently rumoured to be considering a roadster version of the Vanquish, especially in response to the Ferrari 550 Barchetta Pininfarina, but no such version ever emerged. The Vanquish was the basis of two concept cars, both shown at the International Geneva Motor Show in 2004, the Zagato Roadster (a 2-seat roadster) and the Bertone Jet 2 (a 2-door shooting brake).
The Vanquish is powered by a 5.9 L (5935 cc) 48-valve 60° V12 engine, which produces 343 kW (460 hp) and 542 N·m (400 ft·lbf) of torque. It is controlled by a fly-by-wire throttle and a 6 speed clutchless sequential manual transmission. The V12 Vanquish S upped the power to 388 kW (520 hp) and 577 N·m (426 ft·lbf). The V12 engine in the Vanquish was designed at Ford Research in the USA. Cosworth Technologies was originally contracted to manufacture the engine, but had no involvement with the design. Previous articles which correctly recount this engine’s development have appeared in Automotive Industries magazine.
The Vanquish’s V12 engine shares some components and design elements with the 3.0 L Duratec 30 V6. It even shares the same bore and stroke dimensions. For this reason, many people incorrectly dismiss the Aston Martin V12 as merely “two Duratecs linked together.” While it is correct that the AM V12 shares components with the ‘Duratec’ engine design, it is not possible to simply put two V6’s together to make a V12.
The standard Vanquish model had 355 mm (14 in) drilled and ventilated disc brakes with ABS, with electronic brake distribution, while the Vanquish S featured larger 378 mm (15 in) front and 330 mm (13 in) rear rotors. It featured 19-inch wheels.
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The Vanquish has drawn criticism for a number of weaknesses in its design. In particular, some interior materials have been cited as unfit for a car of this price and prestige. Much of the aluminum trim is actually plastic and several of the instruments are visibly related to items from less exotic Ford Motor Company products. Additional concerns of owners and testers include the weight and apparent cooling system deficiencies of the car. Despite Aston’s materials innovations that include epoxy bonding and composite structural members, the Vanquish is a heavy car, weighing well over two tons with driver and fuel. The car’s sporting aspirations are drawn into question by this excess weight and a cooling system that reportedly fails to support sustained track activity in warm weather.
Prior to the release of the Vanquish S, there had been critics who felt the Vanquish was not adequately differentiated from the DB9, a $160,000 Aston Martin that was lighter and far less expensive (approximately $160,000 instead of the Vanquish’s $220,000), with nearly the same power and a bespoke interior.
The main criticism has been the paddle-shift gearbox’s ability to operate smoothly and correctly. Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear presenter, criticised the gearbox sharply in a 10 November 2002 comparison test with the Ferrari 575M Maranello, highlighting the gearbox’s somewhat touchy responses, especially on hills, concluding: “Well done, whoever thought of this. What was the matter with a manual? Why do we have to have this?” In another test, performed on the 14 November 2004 program, Clarkson again described the gearbox’s unreliability while attempting a high-speed circuit lap: “We gave it to the Stig, started the lap, half-way through the lap… stopped selecting third. Sent it back to the factory, came back, set off, stopped selecting ALL gears.” In the end, a full lap was accomplished “three weeks after it first set off”.
As part of its improvements, the Vanquish S featured a slightly improved coefficient of drag of 0.32. Its front and rear track were 1524 mm (60 in) and 1529 mm (60 in), respectively.
Model Power Torque 0-100 km/h
(0-62 mph) Top Speed
Vanquish 343kW (460bhp) @ 6,500 rpm 400lb-ft (542Nm) @ 5000rpm 4.9secs 186mph (306km/h)
Vanquish S 388kW (520bhp) @ 7000 rpm 425lb-ft (577Nm) 4.8secs >200mph (>321km/h)