Long known for its luxury, limited-production sports cars, Aston Martin has a new flagship model in the U.S. market for 2002. Available in either two-passenger or 2+2 form, the new V12 Vanquish went on sale in the United States in September 2001 and joins the existing DB7 Vantage.
First seen in 2001 at the Geneva Motor Show, the British-built Vanquish made its North American debut at the 2001 New York Auto Show. Focusing on advanced technology, the new model was developed with the cooperation and technical assistance of the Ford Research & Technology Group and Ford Research Laboratories. A drive-by-wire throttle system is used, and fingertip-activated, Formula One-style paddles deliver gear changes in less than 250 milliseconds.
Aston Martin expects to sell 500 cars in the United States during 2002. Two-thirds of them will be DB7 Vantage coupes and convertibles, and nearly 170 V12 Vanquish models will hit U.S. shores. A total of 200 V12 Vanquish cars were sold worldwide during 2001, with 500 planned for 2002, according to Aston Martin. In fact, prospective buyers in the United States face an 18-month waiting list because the V12 Vanquish is sold out into 2003.
Because the V12 Vanquish was designed largely by Ian Callum, who also penned the DB7 Vantage, theres a strong resemblance between the two models. With side vents and a larger grille, flanked by bold auxiliary driving lamps, the V12 Vanquish looks a bit more muscular. Front fenders and hood panels incorporate finely detailed compound curves, which sweep back to steeply raked windshield pillars and a low, curving roofline. Deeply sculptured sill and door panels accentuate the classic profile, and bigger trapezoidal taillights sit in a slightly higher, arching tail. A chrome, racing-style fuel filler is used.
Among the firsts in design and construction, the main body structure of the V12 Vanquish utilizes carbon fiber, extruded aluminum and composite materials bonded together in a process also used in the aerospace industry to form a central safety cell. Its said to be lighter, stiffer and stronger than conventional body construction. Aston Martin also claims improved crash protection. With a 106-inch wheelbase, the V12 Vanquish measures 183.7 inches long overall and stands 51.9 inches tall.
The V12 Vanquish is available with or without a small backseat. Prospective owners are invited to visit Aston Martins Newport Pagnell factory in Buckinghamshire, England, to select both the body color and the Connolly leather upholstery scheme. A deep center console separates the front occupants and incorporates a red starter button. White-faced instruments and a message center can provide information in 11 languages.
Under the Hood
Aston Martins 6.0-liter dual-overhead-cam V-12 engine develops 460 horsepower. The company claims that its supercar has enough power to deliver a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of less than 4.5 seconds. The rear-drive coupe can reach 100 mph in 10 seconds, and its top speed is said to exceed 190 mph.
The close-ratio six-speed transmission can be operated either manually using fingertip switches or in automatic mode. A special shifting program has been tailored for those who want to drive the V12 Vanquish in winter weather. All-disc antilock Brembo brakes are installed.