In the words of Aston CEO, Ulrich Bez, the changes are to make the Vanquish ‘slightly sportier and more focused’ and to that end it comes complete with stronger front uprights, shorter springs, firmer damping and a new front suspension wheel bearing assembly. The steering arms have been shortened, speeding up the helm by 20 per cent, and the ride height dropped by 5mm.
Those new wheels reduce unsprung weight, but the real news is behind them: at the front the Brembo brake discs have been increased from 355mm to 378mm and have a 33 per cent greater thermal capacity in an attempt to eliminate the fade of the old system. The front callipers now have six instead of four pistons to give a 21 per cent increase in pad area. At the rear the discs retain their 330mm diameter but are 2mm thicker. Finally, Pagid competition pads are used.
The original specification Vanquish remains, for a saving of £3000, but I suspect this is a similar strategy to that employed by leaving the six-cylinder DB7 in production after the introduction of the V12 Vantage. In practice, no one wanted one and it was quietly dropped.
None of this was obvious as I trickled out onto the road. The sound of its 460bhp, quad-cam, V12, 48-valve engine still moves you from the moment the first spark-plug fires and you find yourself warming it through gently, giving time for heat to build in the engine, gearbox and shock absorbers. It’s silly, really, as the engine’s heritage is linked to two conjoined Mondeo V6s, the gearbox’s to a Chrysler Viper – but it’s easy to expel such matters from your mind.
Then the time was right. Four tugs on the left-hand paddle and gearbox leapt seamlessly from a loping sixth to a screaming second. Throttles wide open, it sat back, gathered itself and speared forward. Listening to the noise, I almost convinced myself I could break down its components into every punch of a piston, whizz of a valve and sweep of the crankshaft, so multi-layered and well-defined is its note.
The gearchange comes swiftly and easily - and now we’re getting into the Vanquish’s world. Work the car in third and fourth gear and it comes alive like an old Ferrari Daytona does above 100mph. It feels unfettered from its 1800kg-plus weight through fast, sweeping curves, the grip of its Yokohamas a given, the precision of its steering a delight.
That trace of float has been exorcised by the new suspension; it’s still no Jason Robinson when changing direction, but you shouldn’t have to expect that from such a car: what matters is that the Vanquish now flows from fast bend to fast bend with authority and commitment, the steering as quick and communicative as you could hope to find in a heavy, front-engined car. In this environment, the revisions work just fine.
But for their undoubted power, the new brakes are still not quite right. The fade has gone (the next day they coped with five laps of Goodwood, braking hard from 150mph at the end of the straight), but the feel is not there. I found myself thinking about them as each corner approached, the sure sign that all is not as it should be.
And as curving country lanes gave way to uncompromising mountain roads, more limitations became apparent. For all its grip, this is not a car to aim into a corner too fast and hope to sort it out on the way through; do that and you will run wide, and you’ll need to take care shutting the throttle to bring the car back on line. It’s much better to adopt the old-fashioned approach and drop your entry speed, get the car turned in and then open the throttle to put the car where you need it.