Aston Martin's scintillating Vanquish and Rapide S benefit from a host of functional powertrain, suspension and brake upgrades for 2015 that promise to make them quicker, faster and more fuel-efficient while adding agility and greater precision to their dynamics. On sale in the fourth quarter, both of these high-performing haulers also receive cosmetic tweaks that bolster their already formidable curb appeal. 

New 8-speed transaxle 

The key change on both the Vantage and the Rapide S 4-door sees the 6-speed automatic transaxle replaced by a new 8-speed Touchtronic III gearbox. Essentially an adaptation of the highly regarded ZF 8HP, it's actually three percent lighter than the current 6-speed but fits in the same space. In addition to an even wider ratio spread, it also offers faster gearchanges thanks to revamped electronic control software and works in concert with a lower final-drive ratio that boosts off-the-line snap. In addition to multi-mode capabilities and smart Adaptive Drive Recognition logic, this new transmission delivers optimized multi-ratio downshifts under braking with just a sustained single pull of the "down" paddle.

More potent V12 with better economy 

The AM29 5.9-liter V12 under the hood of each of these Astons also gets a boost thanks to a new Bosch Engine Management system and decreased exhaust back pressure. Output goes up from 565 to 568 horsepower in the Vanquish coupe (and Vanquish Volante convertible) while the pony count rises from 550 to 552 in the Rapide S. Peak torque also increases from 457 to 465 lb-ft in both cars. Collectively, the changes trim half a second off the 0-60 mph times (3.6 seconds for the Volante and 4.2 ticks for the Rapide S) and allow both cars to top out at over 200 mph. Despite the performance bump, CO2 emissions drop by roughly 10 percent and fuel economy improves by seven percent in the Vanquish and 13 percent in the Rapide S. 

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Other shared running gear changes on these Aston Martins include a new torque tube that reduces transmission noise levels, enhanced Dynamic Stability Control and steering logic that improves handling and steering feel, a retuned brake booster, stiffer rear suspension bushings and new lightweight 10-spoke forged alloy wheels. The Vanquish also gets stiffer shocks while the Rapide S gains larger front brakes. Both cars will be available in a new Diavalo Red finish that was formerly exclusive to the limited-run V12 Zagato model. Pricing for the 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish will start at $287,820 with the Vanquish Volante drop-top opening at $305,820 and the Rapide S commencing at $207,820.

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