Talk about an offer we couldn't refuse: Would we like to drive Aston Martin's all-new Vanquish and a DB9 Volante? The only thing quicker than our answer may be the Vanquish itself. Both British-built models are high-performance grand tourers or GTs. For most of us, they are dream cars. So in that spirit, here are our impressions.
Price as tested: $309,605 plus delivery fee
Powertrain: All-alloy 6.0-liter 48-valve V-12 with independent quad variable camshaft timing; 565 horsepower at 6,700 rpm, 457 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm; maximum speed of 183; 0-62: 4.1 seconds; 19.6 mpg combined; RWD; Touchtronic 2 six-speed automatic.
Aston has revived the Vanquish name for the car that replaces 007's DBS as the "super grand tourer" in the company's stable. We think it's one of the most gorgeous cars on the road today, with a sleek and curvy profile that had people reaching for their cellphone cameras whenever we parked. As Lyra put it: "Hello, gorgeous!" The Vanquish makes heavy use of carbon fiber — both aesthetically and structurally. The 565-horsepower V-12 comes to life with a thrilling rumble that turns heads. On the road, the car strikes a balance for the enthusiast: sports-car performance with the manners of a luxury car. Inside the cockpit, our Stratus White preproduction model was set off by a bright Spicy Red leather, with quilted detailing on the seats. Aston does such a fine job on its leatherwork that other cockpit details stand out as not being up to the same standard, such as the small navigation unit. Still, our only complaint was that we didn't have the open roads to truly appreciate such a fine automobile.
Price as tested: $219,680 plus delivery fee
Powertrain: 6.0-liter 48-valve V-12 with quad overhead cam; 510 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, 457 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm; maximum speed of 183 mph; 0-62: 4.6 seconds; RWD; Touchtronic 2 six-speed automatic.
Our DB9 was a "volante" — what Aston calls its convertibles — and although it doesn't have the visceral thrill of the Vanquish, it does provide the driver with a sophistication all its own. Fittingly, our DB9 came in "Skyfall Silver" with a wine-colored Chancellor Red leather interior. James Bond would approve. In contrast to the Vanquish, the V-12 in the DB9 is quite docile — almost silent on idle — but comes alive under full acceleration. The Volante makes for a splendid grand tourer; its speed-sensitive electronic power steering provides perfect feel and feedback. The handling is nimble and the ride is made for the open road. Like the Vanquish, the backseats are better for your belongings than for passengers. In its convertible form, the DB9 seems perfect for our mild spring weather. To put the top down and cruise along one of the bay area's scenic waterfronts is quite the fantasy come to life. After all, we can all dream, right?