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Aston Powers

Taking in Florida’s sights, sounds and sand in a factory-fresh Aston Martin Vanquish

Author Brett Forrest

roadtrip

MIAMI—Three hundred miles. The man from Aston Martin explained that this was my limit. I was the first civilian to drive this particular 2014 Vanquish, and the company wanted to keep the mileage low. I told the man from Aston Martin that I understood. I would bring it in at 299.

Even as I spoke, I was pretty sure I wasn’t being entirely truthful. After all, I was going to be driving around Miami in a $280,000 car. And not just any old $280,000 car: The Vanquish is a descendant of the James Bond car, an instrument of boyhood fantasy, a beautifully stylized projectile. You do not count beans in a vehicle like this.

As the Vanquish rolled up to the hotel entrance, I could feel myself growing more suave. The machine—painted “Skyfall silver”—gave the impression of a powerlifter who wears a suit so flawlessly tailored it’s impossible to discern the impressive musculature beneath. I nestled into the bucket seat, inhaled the cowhide scent and tapped the accelerator. The 6.0-liter V-12 engine bid the hotel a gruff farewell.

Aston Martin introduced the Vanquish, a two-door grand tourer, in 2001, and retired it six years later. Now it’s back, replacing the DBS as the company’s standard-bearer for style, power and expense. The car has 565 horses under the hood and tops out at 183 mph, making it one of the most powerful production cars Aston Martin has ever rolled out. And, again, it looks the part: All gnashing grille and glowering lights, the front end is like something out of a manga comic.

The first thing that happens to you in a car like this is that everyone wants to be your buddy, if only for a block or two. I spent much of my first day with the Vanquish ferrying people around town. The next day, I decided to see—as the saying goes—what this baby could do. So I pointed the car’s angry manga face south and headed for the Keys.

Leaving Miami and its suburbs behind, I whooshed for an hour or so down Route 1. To my left were the flats and the islands breaching the teal water of Manatee Bay. After crossing the Overseas Highway into Key Largo, shrimp shacks blurring by, I glanced at the speedometer. I’d expected to see 35, maybe 40 mph. I was doing 85.

I blame the engineers. With its carbon fiber body, adaptive suspension, whip-smart steering and low center of gravity, the Vanquish seems built to create the illusion of moderate speed. It’s light, agile, responsive and seductive—all the ingredients for a hefty speeding ticket. Luckily, the car’s ceramic disc brakes are pretty good too. In Islamorada, south of Key Largo, I slowed down and pulled into the lot of Marker 88, a beachfront seafood joint that used to be a favorite stop-off for avid fisherman George Bush Sr.

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