Actor Daniel Craig's James Bond sits behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB5 in his latest film, Skyfall. It's the same classic model Sean Connery's Bond first drove in Goldfinger in 1964, underlining the enduring association between the character and the carmaker.
Had the story been set in the modern era, the British spy's bosses might have handed him the key to Aston's new Vanquish.
Unveiled in Hong Kong on Thursday last week before a VIP screening of the latest 007 movie, the 2012 Vanquish replaces Aston's DBS after a six-year production run as its flagship 12-cylinder grand tourer. The DBS, in turn, replaced the original Vanquish, which came onto the market in 2001. That car appeared with Pierce Brosnan in the 2002 Bond film Die Another Day, fitted with an "adaptive camouflage system" that rendered it invisible.
There's no such sci-fi gadgetry in the non-fictional Vanquish, although there is a lot more power than in the DBS. Its 5.9-litre, V-12 engine generates 565 bhp - that's more than 50 extra horses compared with the DBS - and 620Nm of torque. It sprints from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and has a top speed of 293km/h.
Andy Gawthorpe, global sales director of Aston Martin Lagonda, says the Vanquish name was revived because it is provocative and suits the brand's ultimate GT. "This is about power, and there's a little edge of malevolence, a little darkness to the car," Gawthorpe says. "You see the tonality and the muscularity. It's just got something else to it that suits the Vanquish name rather than DBS. It's like a DBS that's been sent to the gym."
It also has some remarkable Aston styling, having taken design cues from its limited edition One-77 supercar to dramatic effect, especially noticeable in profile. It's more lean and lithe than the DBS, accentuated by larger, more forceful side strakes.
"You can see it in terms of the sharpness of some of the lines, the way the car sucks itself to the ground," Gawthorpe says. "There's a kind of sinuousness to the One-77 that you see more in this car.
"If you look at the side of the car, it's got a very strong baseline that really pushes the wheels out to the corners, accentuated by the carbon-fibre skirt. You also have the similarity to the rear-light cluster seen on the One-77."
The interior is also heavily influenced by the One-77, featuring what the carmaker describes as the waterfall design of the central console. It's all flowing leather with smooth black carbon-fibre panels.
Gawthorpe expects the Vanquish to be a hit with local fans, who he says favour sporty GT models. Mainland owners, on the other hand, tend to prefer four-door saloons, such as the Rapide.
Gordon Choy, managing director of Aston Martin (Hong Kong), says a handful of orders have been received from local buyers, who could expect their cars to arrive in February or March. The price, including tax, is HK$4.38 million.