EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: Like all Astons, this 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish is a pretty car. Unlike all other Astons, there’s something about the way this car looks that I’m not totally crazy about -- I think it’s the headlights, even if I can’t say exactly what it is I don’t like about them. In profile and from the rear, it’s gorgeous.

The materials used on the interior are about what you’d expect from a $300,000 car, though I was able to find a patch of suede with a slight wrinkle where the door meets the dashboard.

I’m still not in love with this transmission. In general, it operates well and shifts quickly, but I had a pretty unsettling moment waiting for the transmission to engage so I could make a left turn in front of some oncoming traffic. Even with the throttle pinned, the trans turned what should have been a leisurely 20-foot trip into a small moment of terror. I actually had time to say, “Oh, come on!” before the car took off, and to be fair, crossed the lane before the oncoming driver even had to think about touching the brakes. As anyone within a mile of me at the time of that event would attest, it sounds incredible. I’ll be sad to see the 6.0-liter V12 replaced by something from AMG.

The only other problem with the Vanquish is that for some reason, the type of kids who spend hundreds of dollars at Autozone buying stuff to stick to their car will do anything to “race you” while you roll down the freeway with the cruise control on. Even if you never acknowledge them, they’ll risk their lives and the lives of everyone else on the road, to pass an Aston Martin, regardless of the traffic situation. If I were in a position to buy this car, I’d have to take that into consideration.

Under the hood of the 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish Coupe is a robust 6.0-liter V12 power plant pushing out 568 hp with 465 lb-ft of torque.PHOTO BY JONATHAN WONG

ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Unlike Rory, I had a low-key night with this 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish. No punk kids wanted to race me and nobody really seemed to notice the car much, which is how I like it. Instead, I went to dinner with two friends and just puttered around normally most of the time, never really pushing the car. It was raining and temperatures were cooler, meaning the Pirelli P Zero tires on the Vanquish weren’t in optimal performing conditions. Traction control cut in often.

No matter, it gave me a chance to see how the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission performed, which is new to the Vanquish. The previous car that I tracked at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Mich., had a six-speed unit that was horrendous with slow shifts and a big lull at throttle tip-in before the car actually got moving. With ZF’s eight-speed automatic that’s in everything from BMWsAudisJaguars and Chrysler products with great results, I would figure it would be equally impressive in an Aston Martin, right? Eh, well, it’s definitely better than six-speed but it’s not buttery smooth like we’ve come to expect from this transmission.

What’s the problem? There’s still muted throttle response at tip-in, which is surprising. As with most things, it comes down to software tuning. Maybe Aston wants the throttle to be like that? If so, please Aston, it’s not good and hopefully you’re working on that. As is, it’s difficult to launch the car smoothly and the sudden surge forward makes carefully pulling into parking spots rather difficult. You know the slick-looking carbon fiber front lips? I’m terrified of scuffing those up on parking blocks, and the wonky throttle wasn’t helping matters.

Manually shifting is more responsive than before, but again, shift response isn’t as snappy as I would have liked. It’s really odd, because manually shifting this transmission in Audis, BMWs and even Chrysler vehicles is nice and quick. 

Overall the interior of the 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish Coupe looks great.PHOTO BY JONATHAN WONG

So besides the better (but still a little disappointing) gearbox performance, the Vanquish remains a nice grand touring car. That V12’s exhaust note is wicked, which has you leaning into the throttle often just to hear the lovely soundtrack even in slick conditions. Thrust doesn’t really wake up until the middle of the rev band.

The car is stiff both probably because of the platform and the suspension. I won’t call ride quality violent, but it’s definitely on the crashy side of things. Steering is direct and responsive through the squared off steering wheel. Like with most Astons, you feel a lot of road chatter through the wheel, too. For the driving I did this time, the big carbon ceramic brakes easily handled things with near instant bite when stepping on the left pedal.

The interior is lined with soft leathers featuring large accent stitching. The touchsense controls for climate and infotainment aren’t very responsive, which is annoying. You sit low in the Vanquish in the comfortable and supportive front bucket seats. As for the backseat, it’s more or less there for insurance purposes. Remember how I said I went to dinner with two people? Yup, we stuffed one smaller guy back there and he was absolutely miserable with not enough head room and hardly any legroom. So it’s best to enjoy the Vanquish with only one other person.

I consider the Vanquish an elegant-looking GT car with styling that’s more subtle than the DBS, but it has an edgier performance personality with the improved gearbox. There’s still a need for some transmission fine tuning.

ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I didn’t get to drive the last Vanquish we had in the office, so I was elated to get this for a night. I was even more elated when the rain let up at 5 o’clock when I rolled out of the office.

So, the interior of the Vanquish is an enigma. Basically everything but the center stack looks great. But those chrome/plastic knobs don’t look great, and the twisting and/or leaning action didn’t feel great, either. Also, that flip-up navigation screen just looks chintzy. Make the whole darn thing a touchscreen, surrounded by carbon fiber.

Otherwise, though, the interior is great. The gauges look cool, though it always throws me off that the tach goes counter clockwise. The ceiling is covered in suede, which I loved, but I didn’t know why I loved it so much until I realized that the color must be New Balance gray, my favorite shoe brand. I dig the orange and black seats, too, which is the only piece of color inside or out.

I’m not sure how I feel about the squarish wheel, something about it, especially during turns, throws me off. I’d also much rather the paddle shifters be mounted on the wheel than on the column. I do like the orange accents, though.

The pedals are just a little bit too close together. Normally I complain about them being too far apart. The gas pedal has an arm that juts off left toward the brake. If your foot isn’t squarely planted on the stopper it’ll touch the throttle a little. At stoplights, it jumped forward a bit when I tried to push down on the brake.

The engine is perfect, and sounds sublime, no other comment necessary. The throttle application is a little touchy, and with so much power sometimes you find yourself bouncing back and forth with inertia as you try to take off.

The new eight-speed trans is way better than the last six-speed, but still not quick enough, in my opinion. Give me more violence in the shifts or a dual-clutch to keep that power near constant.

It’ll spin up the tires at any speed under 70 mph if you stomp the gas. Luckily the traction control steps in and keeps the nose pointed straight. Steering, though a little weird with the square wheel, is direct, and has a lot of road feel.

I found the suspension a little bouncy for an Aston. I mean, this is supposed to be a grand touring car, right? I personally don’t care, I like a tight setup, but I just wonder if most Aston buyers want the same thing. On flat, curvy roads, again, sublime.

If I had $300,000 or so to spend on one car, it might be this one. Wait, do they offer a manual? Still, it’s one of the most beautiful cars on the road, if not the most beautiful. It’s the best sounding car on the road, hands down. And it’s up there in the upper echelon in performance cars the world over.

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