The Aston Martin Vanquish is the company’s new range-topper, assuming you discount limited-edition specials such as the V12 Zagato.
It borrows several styling cues from another limited-run Aston, the One-77, including the dramatic strake that extends from its side vents far into the doors.
This helps give the Vanquish a crisper, edgier look than the company’s lesser models, while all of its body panels – apart from the bumpers – are made from carbonfibre to keep weight down – making it around 40kg lighter than the DBS that it replaces.
Power comes from a 565bhp engine that’s almost all new, although it retains the V12 configuration and 5935cc capacity of its predecessor.
What's the 2012 Aston Martin Vanquish like to drive?
Despite these changes, the Vanquish still looks so similar to the other models in the company’s range that you wonder how different it can really be. However, while its ancestry is obvious, it’s an effective step ahead.
As well as its extra power, Aston’s latest V12 engine has an impressive torque peak of 457lb ft. This doesn't arrive until 5500rpm, but variable valve timing ensures a much stronger reserve of pulling power at lower engine revs than in the previous DBS.
The Vanquish can blast from 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds, but the real joy is in how effortlessly it can eat up the road without the need for fireworks.
Indeed, the launch control feature, so violent in some rivals, is a bit of an anti-climax here. The Vanquish simply surges smoothly off the line, its six-speed automatic gearbox changing up by itself just before the rev-limiter, even if you had planned to do the shifts yourself with the paddles (there’s no conventional manual gearbox option).
The engine’s V12 howl gets a bit too insistent if you're in Sport mode, too. Better to leave it in the normal setting, where it sounds delicious and is barely any less responsive.
This is a hefty car, but quick, precise steering makes it feel nimble and the brakes are first class.
There are three settings for the adaptive shock absorbers, but none prevents the car’ body from rising and falling abruptly on severely undulating roads – a Jaguar XKR copes better.
Still, Normal is best for most uses; Sport Track is very taut and unyielding, while Sport lies in between.
What's the 2012 Aston Martin Vanquish like inside?
Familiar, but different. You sit low, with exquisite instruments ahead, including an anti-clockwise rev-counter, but the big change is the centre console, with its new touch-sensitive controls that work like an iPhone's screen.
The information and sat-nav system is also new, offering clear graphics and a calmness and simplicity that was lacking before.
Sounds come from a high-end Bang & Olufsen system, while the electric window switches finally work the right way round.
Aluminium and waxed leather abound, with many trim and finish options available.
The two tiny rear seats are little more than storage spaces, but the boot is 60% bigger than the DBS's.
Should I buy one?
The new Vanquish is the best current-generation Aston , but its ride could be more controlled and, given that the Vanquish is intended to be the most sporting 'large' Aston, its performance could do with a touch more drama and explosiveness.
That might sound churlish given the car's huge pace and abundant power, but a Ferrari F12 performs with an even greater sense of occasion.
Even so, we wouldn't blame you for choosing a Vanquish. It's a fast, fabulous-looking and beautifully-made GT car.
Bentley Continental GT Speed
What Car? says…
By John Simister
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
Up to the minute news from around the globe