Aston Martin Vanquish

Does it pack the low-down wallop of a turbo engine? Just a little. But it more than makes up for that across the rest of the rev range.

It's all about the engine

Then there's the noise. Oh, the noise. Forget the homogeneous bassy warble delivered by all those industry-standard turbo V8 engines. This is the real analogue deal, not a low bitrate digital copy. And it's utterly orchestral.

If that's how the Vanquish connects emotionally, its sheer ability impresses intellectually. You can see from our images that the British weather was at its most mercurial. On the day, we experienced everything from almost dry through to inches of snow.

Aston Martin Vanquish

But fitted with winter tyres, the way the Vanquish hooks up on cold wet roads is almost beyond belief. The traction is ridiculous. That's important because it gives the Vanquish all-weather, year-round credibility.

Thanks perhaps to those superlight carbon body panels, along with super-quick steering and a rear mounted gearbox, the big Aston also seriously agile and responsive. It's still a near 1,800kg car. It just doesn't feel anything like as heavy as that.

Aston Martin Vanquish

As for the ceramic brakes, it's unlikely we got near their outright ability. The stopping power is epic.

Approaching perfection?

If you're looking for weaknesses, there are a few. The six-speed automatic gearbox is occasionally clunky at low speed, for instance. Strictly speaking, the primary controls aren't exactly oozing with mechanical feel. The Vanquish is too modern, too polished, too power assisted to allow for that.

But the only real issue is road noise. Tyre roar at motorway speeds is definitely a problem and probably something that needs to be addressed to ensure the Vanquish has broad appeal.

Aston Martin Vanquish

It would be a shame if something wasn't done because, that aside, the Vanquish is a real pussycat. Fire it up and mooch about about in automatic mode with the suspension, exhaust and throttle mapping in default settings and it's a friendly, drama-free experience.

Unleash the beast

To unleash the beast, you merely flick a few switches on the steering wheel. Triple-level damper adjustment allows you to tune the chassis to suit your mood and a Sport Mode actuator ramps up the throttle response and gearbox mapping and opens valves in the exhaust for added aural drama.

Aston Martin Vanquish

Suddenly, you're wired into the engine via your right foot and the whole car feels alive. It's a nice trick.

OK, the Vanquish will never be a driver's car for die-hard purists. Not with a paddle-shifted auto gearbox and heavily assisted brakes and steering. But good God, this car is competent.

It's also massively desirable. The Aston badge has about as much kudos as is humanly possible. And the V12 ensures the Vanquish operates in much more rarefied territory than upstarts like BMW's M6 coupé.

Is it a bit uncouth compared with the effortless elegance of other Astons, like the DB9? Probably. But as the rev counter swings past 6,000rpm, we can't believe you'll care.