The Aston Martin Vanquish is a $300,000 angry piece of art

It is a purveyor of automotive art

You can't stop looking at it
There are cars, and then there are Aston Martins. The boutique British sports car maker doesn't build transportation; it is a purveyor of automotive art. And though they may not all be as striking as the Vulcan hypercar or as classically beautiful as the Aston Martin DB5, Aston Martins have always been stylish, powerful, and attention-grabbing. So much so that Aston is the car of choice for the world's most famous fictional super spy. No, we're not talking about Jason Bourne or Austin Powers.

At the top of the Aston Martin hierarchy is their flagship grand tourer, the Vanquish. The multimillion-dollar Vulcan is a limited-edition, track-only offering to 23 customers, and the Lagonda Taraf is, well, a Lagonda. The Vanquish is a car we've had our eye on. Last year, we named the Aston one of the most beautiful news cars money can buy.

Recently, Business Insider had the opportunity to check out a 2016 Vanquish for a few days. Aston Martin delivered the silver super GT to our New York office one afternoon, and from the moment we laid eyes on the Vanquish, it was hard to turn away.

The Vanquish is the latest model to serve as Aston Martin's flagship offering.

The carbon-fiber-intensive super GT has big shoes to fill.

It succeeds the DBS and ...

.... the first-generation Vanquish. Both of which served a tour of duty as James Bond's official mode of transport.

Sadly, Bond's DB10 from "Spectre" won't make it to production.

The Vanquish sits a top a lineup consisting of the Vantage ...

... the Rapide and ...

... the outgoing DB9.

The Vanquish's seductive sheet metal, or in this case carbon fiber, is the work of Aston Martin Design Director Marek Reichman and ...

... draws heavily from another one of Reichman's designs — the million-dollar Aston Martin One-77 hypercar.

However, the Vanquish is latest and perhaps the final interpretation of the design language which originated in ...

... 1993 with the DB7 by former Aston designer Ian Callum.

That design theme continued under Reichman's predecessor, Henrik Fisker, with cars such as the DB9.

And If this is the final hurrah for this design theme, it will be a true shame because it presents a truly gorgeous silhouette.

For Vanquish duty, the Aston look has been made leaner and meaner.

The front end is punctuated by the the traditional Aston grille and a low-slung carbon-fiber splitter.

The side profile of the Vanquish is defined by sculpted wheel arches and aggressive rear haunches.

The rear end of the Aston features a sleek fastback design and a partially integrated spoiler.

The angular tail lights and much the rear-end design are lifted from the One-77.

In fact, the body of the Vanquish is crafted entirely out of aerospace-grade carbon fiber. According to Aston, the car is 25% lighter than the DBS it replaced.

The gray Vanquish delivered to Business Insider is an updated version of the car that debuted in 2013.

The biggest change is the addition of a new 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, which replaces an overmatched 6-speed unit. According to Aston, the new 8-speed can change gears in just 130 milliseconds.

Lift up the Aston's long carbon-fiber hood and ...

... you'll find something very familiar. Aston's venerable 6.0-liter, V-12 engine. In this case, the mighty powerplant produces 568 horsepower.

Unlike its fellow English GTs, the Rolls-Royce Wraith and ...

... Bentley Continental GT ...

... the Vanquish's V-12 creates its power without the aid of turbochargers.

However, it should be noted that Aston Martin will move to a 5.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-12 for its next-generation GT cars.

As for Aston's current big-boy V-12, the engine doesn't exactly represent the cutting edge of powertrain technology. There's no kinetic-energy recovery, nor does it have hybrid electric torque assist or cylinder deactivation. But it doesn't matter. There's no replacement for displacement, and this old-school V-12 does its job like a boss.

As a result, Aston claims the Vanquish hits 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and achieves a top speed of 201 mph, while achieving an average of 22 mpg of fuel economy. In any case, it's virtually impossible to legally explore the limits of its performance on public roads.

Stopping power is courtesy of a set of massive carbon-ceramic brakes.

The Vanquish is stunning to drive. Step on the gas and the V-12 roars to life. The dual exhausts bellow as the motor pulls the car through the gears like the an angry bull. The booming growl emitted by the V-12 makes you want to drop a couple of gears to make it growl louder.

In the corners, the Vanquish remains planted and conveys a sense of great confidence. The car is incredibly well balanced and features 51:49 front-rear weight distribution.

I'm not saying it's confident like Usain Bolt at a weekend track meet, but the Aston holds its own in any situation a driver will likely encounter.

Although it may not have the sharpness of a track-bred supercar, like the McLaren 650S or ...

... the monastery-like isolation of a pure cruiser such as the Rolls-Royce Wraith ...

... the Aston Martin does a more than admirable job in melding the best of both worlds into a single, seductive package.

Driving the Vanquish isn't something you do to get from point A to point B. It's something you do to feed your soul.

Step inside the Vanquish and ...

... you'll find a luxurious, leather-lined cabin.

Complete with Aston Martin embroidered and quilted leather seats.

You don't sink into them, but they're still very comfortable, and they encourage the driver to adopt a business-like posture. Driving, after all, is serious business.

The Aston's steering wheel features controls to activate the car's sport mode and its adaptable damping-suspension system.

The instruments are exquisite and crafted to resemble a high-end timepiece. However, the embedded monochromatic digital readouts look dated.

To start the car, insert Aston Martin's unique glass key, which the company calls an "Emotional Control Unit" ...

... into the corresponding slot on the center console. Also, the Vanquish continues the company's trend of using center-console-mounted push-button gear selectors instead a shift lever.

The Vanquish's infotainment system is centered around a relatively undersized 6.5-inch, pop-up screen that's elegantly mounted to the top of the center stack.

The infotainment and HVAC systems are accessed using a large control knob and haptic feedback glass buttons. The "LC" one in the lower left corner? It activates the launch control, in case you can't handle barking the tires when you step on it from a standing start.

I enjoyed the 1,000-watt, 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo's superb sound quality — though it was overshadowed by the beautiful noises emitted by the car itself. So it spent most of the time on mute.

The updated infotainment-and-navigation system is still far from industry-leading, and its graphics remain dated. However, it's usable and offers the basic functionality that should satisfy the large number of less-tech-savvy buyers.

Obviously, if you're judging the Vanquish based on its infotainment system, you've missed the point of this car.

As for rear seats, there are two. As for how many adults the rear seats can comfortably accommodate, that would be zero.

The 2016 Aston Martin Vanquish starts at $288,950; our test car came to just over $300,000 with options. If you value world-beating style and impressive, updated performance — and aren't demanding the very latest technology — the Vanquish could be the car for you.


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