out of 10
The 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish is a hyper-luxury, high-performance grand-touring coupe, and it looks every cent worth its $280,000 price tag.

That dramatic shape is due to its carbon fiber body shell. The high-tech, lightweight material allows sculptural elements that would be impossible in steel or aluminum, like the sharply creased side strake or the through-trunk wing/spoiler. Carbon accents at the front lip spoiler, side mirrors, sills, and diffuser further lend the Vanquish a performance air.

Of course, the 565-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-12 under the hood does a great job of boosting the performance vibe, too. The exhaust note is fantastic, almost unearthly when the engine is wound out, and the wide, low-slung stance of the Vanquish backs up its growl. Handling, however, isn't a first priority for the Vanquish--it's clearly biased more towards touring than sporting. Not that that's a flaw; it's simply Aston's choice. The six-speed automatic transmission can be manually shifted from paddle shifters on the wheel, but you needn't bother: it's not in the transmission's preferred mode, or the car's. Just cruise, briskly.

Inside, the Vanquish is exquisitely turned out, with hand-crafted leather, solid metals, and the best in plastics presenting a design that's both thoroughly modern and classically British. The seats, in particular, are works of visual art when equipped with the quilted option, which is also available for the headliner. They're rather comfortable, too.

The cabin of the Vanquish isn't quite so comfortable, however. It's fairly noisy, both from the big V-12 engine up front and the road below. Ride harshness can be a problem over rougher roads, and while the seats are comfy, the position, including the lack of space for driver and passenger feet, is less than ideal.

In terms of equipment, the Vanquish offers all of the modern standards you'd expect, including navigation, Bang & Olufsen audio, iPod and iPhone integration, and Bluetooth audio and phone conncetivity.

For more details on the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish, visit our first drive, or the review at The Car Connection.

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