This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Aston Martin Vanquish review.

Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

It almost wouldn't matter if the Vanquish struggled to outdrag a hot hatch, so wonderful is the noise emitted by the 5.9-litre V12. Push the starter button and it roars into life with a flurry of revs, signalling its intent. But to some extent this show of bravado is misleading. The engine – essentially two Mondeo V6s joined together – produces 460bhp in standard form but has nearly two tonnes of car to move.

By any real world standards it's hugely quick, reaching 62mph in 4.5 seconds and 191mph all out, but the cheaper DB9 feels just as fast and sounds just as good. The extra 50bhp in the Vanquish S redresses that balance and although the longer gearing needed to crack 200mph results in a slower 0-60mph time of 4.8 seconds, it feels far faster on the road.

Both use a slow and clunky paddle shift automated manual whereas the DB9 has a beautifully smooth automatic that can also be shifted with paddles.

Compared with the DBS, the Vanquish is certainly capable of being driven quickly, but demands far more effort from the driver. It's more exciting, but you're always aware of the extra mass you're trying to direct, particularly when you're trying to bring it to a halt. But the bigger brakes and firmer suspension transformed the S into a genuinely great sports car with brilliant balance, responsive, accurate steering and zest for corners that impresses given the weight over the nose.

It's still a bit of a handful, but the rewards are far greater with virtually no penalty in terms of ride comfort. The S's suspension was actually available as an option from 2003 on the regular Vanquish and it's certainly worth looking out for one of those if you can’t stretch to the real thing. Traction control was standard on both Vanquish models but stability control was never available.