Aston Martinís V12 Vanquish S is aptly named: This 520-hp beast outperforms all but a handful of supercars ó and few look as good.
The rear-wheel-drive Vanquish S remains unchanged for 2006 after replacing the standard Vanquish last year. Its 6.0-liter V12 gained 60 hp over the engine in the model it replaced.
The steering, braking and suspension systems on the Vanquish S are also improvements over those of the discontinued standard Vanquish, and there are subtle changes to the exterior, including a tweaked front grille that allows better engine cooling and a splitter below the front bumper that aerodynamically improves high-speed stability.
The Vanquish S is the fastest non-racing Aston Martin ever: It blasts from zero to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of more than 200 mph.
Aston Martin offers a free Performance Driving Course to Vanquish S owners so that they may learn to safely optimize the car's enormous potential. Driving schools are held in Lommel, Belgium, Millbrook in the U.K. and Romeo, Mich.
Changes to the Vanquish S' six-speed, sequential-manual transmission improve midrange performance and shave two seconds from its 50-to-70-mph acceleration time (which is 6.5 seconds) compared to the standard Vanquish it replaces. The transmission can be shifted manually by flicking paddles behind the steering wheel ó just like on a Formula One race car ó or it can be left in automatic mode. It also includes a special program for winter driving when snow and ice compromise tire grip.
A limited-slip rear differential and electronic traction control work together to ensure that the tires donít lose their grip around turns or on slick roads.
The Vanquish S' aluminum body panels shroud an aluminum and carbon-fiber structure whose pieces are bonded together using a special adhesive and an advanced technique taken from the aerospace industry. This technique, as well as the use of carbon fiber, is said to create superior structural rigidity and crash protection.
Only about 1,500 Vanquish and Vanquish S models have been built since the former debuted in 2001. Elegant styling inside and out is restrained, in typical British fashion, and makes Ferraris and Lamborghinis look gaudy and flamboyant by comparison.
The two-seat Vanquish S can be ordered with an optional backseat ($6,530), but it's so cramped that not even children are likely to be comfortable in it. Interior styling and materials are exquisite, with rich leather, wood and aluminum trim throughout.
As with most cars in this price range, interior and exterior finishes and materials can be customized. Functional options include a navigation system ($2,285), an integrated telephone ($1,500) and heated front seats ($375), all of which should be standard on a quarter-million-dollar supercar. Interestingly, there are no cupholders, but one can be added at no extra cost in place of a storage bin in the center console.