The Ares seems like it might make a better heavy fighter than the Vanguard, depending on just how resilient it winds up being. The long range size 7 gun (laser or ballistic) should give the Ares at least equal firepower up close (within size 2 gun range). However, outside of that almost point-blank range, the Vanguard will only be able to use it’s single size 4 or size 5 gun, losing out on both range and striking power versus the Ares’ size 7.
Comparing missile loadouts, the Ares can carry a much heaver load of missiles missiles (16 size 3 or 8 size 3 with 16 size 2) compared to the 4 size 3 and 8 size 2 available to the Vanguard.
The Vanguard seems to have an edge in fuel capacity and the ability logout anywhere due to onboard bunks. The Ares appears to still have a relatively large fuel and jump capacity, though it will likely require more planning for logout opportunities.
The Vanguards seem best used for long range patrols and long range force recon, when they are not being used as dropships.
The Ares seems (so far) to be designed with heavy strike missions in mind, with lots of missiles for self defense against more maneuverable ships. How much damage it can take remains to be seen.
Another use of the Ares is as a highly mobile hover tank. In addition to strafing ground targets, the Ares might actually be used as direct fire artillery, with their long range guns, relative high speed compared to ground vehicles and heavy shields and armor compared to most other small craft.
We may actually have to wait for the F8 Lightning to get a heavy fighter that is optimized as an anti-fighter brawler.
If you want a daily driver capable of the largest number of current money making jobs, I’d recommend the Cutlass. I went with the Cutlass Blue, myself; but, since it remains to be seen what, if any, capability it may lose to the Black in order to gain it’s prisoner transport equipment.
I have heard that the Freelancer series is also a good all-rounder; though I have no personal experience with it.