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Big Easy Love Affair: 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish

The 565 horsepower 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish made a jazzy debut before impressed automotive reporters in New Orleans.

When Aston Martin picked New Orleans and the NOLA Motorsports Park to track test the 2014 Vanquish, I don’t know if they had the Crescent City’s other nickname – The Big Easy – in mind. However, there is no better two letter phrase to describe the pleasure of driving Aston Martin’s best known car.

We’re talking “Big” not in size, but in performance. With its new hand-built “AM11” 6.0 liter V12 engine, the Vanquish produces 565 brake horsepower. – making it an adrenaline surging track car. Its new “VH gen4” body architecture incorporates aluminum in the undercarriage and an entire body structure of carbon fiber (the first time in an Aston Martin performance car), reducing weight and helping to put all of those horses into movement with enough torque to pull Bourbon Street off its foundations.

And, we’re talking “Easy” as in technologically rich. The new infotainment system (AMi) includes an improved satellite navigation system, mobile phone touchscreen and capacitive switches. Simple clicks of a button here and there activate Sport Mode, firming up suspension and enabling maximum track day performance.

However, the designers at Aston Martin understand what many automakers do not. All of those driver aids and tech features should enhance the driving experience – not separate or alienate the driver from the road. While traction control and its ilk are helping to keep all the Vanquish’s power in control, its feather light responsiveness always assures the driver that he or she is in touch with the pavement and in true control of the car.

Those combined elements mix together like Louisiana Bayou Jazz – smoothing joyous at times, while rhythmically pounding with passion every other moment.

The Vanquish first appeared in 2001 to worthy international fanfare. One could argue that it was the most heralded and best received Aston Martin offer across the public and media spectrum since the heady days of the DB5. Saving James Bond from driving BMWs and bringing him back to British cars in “The World Is Not Enough” only served to further popularize the Vanquish.

The 2014 model includes the classic Aston Martin nose and grill, before sweeping lines reach along the car to round haunches no doubt inspired by Aston Martin’s haloed super car, the One-77.

As for driving the Vanquish, there are few experiences in all of motoring as sensually pleasurable as hammering an Aston Martin. I know that sounded dirty, but it wasn’t meant that way…Or maybe it was. I’ve had plenty of dates that weren’t as pretty as the Vanquish – or as thrilling.

At NOLA, the Vanquish’s unrelenting acceleration and its perfectly balanced handling blended with its trademark and unmistakable exhaust note to drive heart pulses up in time with a Zydecko backbeat when this reporter put his toe down.

The car will launch in the US as a 2014 model year, with first ordered deliveries beginning in March/April 2013. Its pre-order sticker is $279,995, not including destination and delivery of $2,115.

All mixed together, the 2014 Vanquish is more than just a leftover hash of previous design years. It’s a new recipe – a spicy Jambalaya made from a fresh power-plant, a sexy new body and technology undreamt of when the first Vanquish arrived more than a decade ago.

When the Vanquish arrives fully cooked in 2013, it will have exhausted every strained New Orleans metaphor I can muster, while putting Aston Martin back on top of the British performance car world.