Aston Martin Vanquish
There are over one million stitches holding together the leather interior of Aston Martin's range-topping, grand touring supercar, the Vanquish. We could use this space to count off just as many reasons not to buy one (the first being that $280,000 sticker). But we realize that prospect of a supercar is irrational, anyway, and your patience is limited, so we'll forego the list of financial admonishments and skip to what makes it singular. Though the Vanquish may indeed be irrational, it's not removed from science: Its bodywork consists entirely of lightweight carbon fiber, an Aston first; its aluminum alloy structure is 25% torsionally stiffer than the flagship vehicle it replaces, the DBS; and all new major components for its 6.0-liter V-12 engine allow for better energy extraction, enabling a 10% boost to 565 horsepower. Geeky stuff, that.
But the real draw of any Aston Martin is an emotional one, and after a three-day spin in a Vanquish cloaked in Skyfall Silver, we'll advise that the right brain is where this one socks you. There's that profile, liquid and aerodynamic, from its familiar front aperture to the sucked-in waistline that echoes Aston's most far-out experiment, the One-77. There's that cabin, worked over by hand in Scottish leather dyed the color of oxygen-rich blood, stitched in an hourglass pattern, paired with burnished carbon fiber and cool milled metal. And there's that sound, a V12 oratory so rich and immense that we kept tearing through New York City's Hugh Carey Tunnel just to hear it amplified. (Toll booth operator: "You come here every day?") Indeed, we did. Then we turned its squared-off steering wheel towards the Hudson Highlands and the sweeping byways near West Point, where we found the Vanquish's hydraulic power steering to be genteel but communicative, even in the straights; its throttle response oddly sedate, until the "S" button remaps its automatic six-speed's map for more immediate torque; and its brakes – big carbon ceramic Brembos, impressive.
We didn't test its launch control, another Aston first; nor did we put it in "track" mode and unleash its fury unmonitored by electronic safety controls. But during our drive it became clear that the Vanquish's unique position is to pair long haul, grand-touring comfort and elegance with supercar capabilities you can call up when the moment requires. Oh yeah, what were those reasons for not buying a Vanquish again? It won't beat a Ferrari around a track? Fair enough. And sure, there are handful of machines that can get you to 60 m.p.h. quicker and cheaper than the Vanquish. But really, why care about being the first to 60 when you could be devouring continents instead? [$280,000; astonmartin.com]