DUBAI: As I slipped behind the Caithness leather steering wheel of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, I felt a pang of nostalgia. For the next couple of days, test-driving this incredible vehicle, I knew I would be whisked back to my teenage years when I first saw an Aston - driven by actor Sean Connery as James Bond in the film “Goldfinger.”
I even found myself mouthing the words: “The name is Kane. Frank Kane.”
Aston and Bond have had a relationship since the 1960s, when 007 threw the car round the hairpin bends of the Swiss Alps on his way to the lair of the gold-smitten villain, and I have been under Aston’s spell ever since.
I have driven lots of luxury sports cars, some of the best in the world, but none has the emotional resonance of an Aston Martin with me. It is simply a mesmerizing vehicle that has the power to lift you out of the everyday and into a fantasy land of espionage, beautiful women and thrilling peril.
The DBS Superleggera is a close relative of Bond’s DB5, sharing a common design ancestor in the Italian coachbuilder that inspired the elegant but dynamic curves of both cars. If the DBS looks powerful, that’s because it is. The 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine generates enough torque to get from standing to 160 km/h in 6.2 seconds. At a top speed of 340 km/h you are nearly flying. It is the most powerful Aston currently on the road.
The handling and suspension are a real ‘wow’ factor. The engine is mounted low and as far back in the car as possible, giving it a center of gravity that allows you to do amazing things on tight curves.
Gun it into a sharp bend at a speed that would overturn the sedate 4X4 I drive everyday and the car remains clamped to the road, which is how Bond managed to stay in control on those Alpine passes while still able to sweet talk the blonde in the passenger seat. (Perhaps disappointingly, the Superleggera has no ejector seat).
On an open freeway, you can sense that the DBS simply wants to be the fastest car on the road. Acceleration from medium speed is almost neck-breaking and, once you hit the 120 km/h speed limit, there is still plenty of space between the gas pedal and the floor. “Faster, faster,” the car seems to be saying in a deep-throated snarl.
And it looks sensational. The car I drove, courtesy of the lovely people at Aston Martin MENA, was what they call “intense blue’ with a black mesh roof, and it was certainly a head-turner at the five-star hotels in the UAE. The valet’s face lit up with glee when I pulled into the forecourt.
Inside, it has everything you would expect from a super-luxury GT high-performance car: Bang & Olufsen audio, Bluetooth connectivity, and an incredibly clear and detailed navigation system.
The starting price is around the $327,000 mark but, as usual with luxury cars, the sky’s the limit once you start adding the extras. There is no current choice of front-mounted machine guns and rear smoke machine, sadly. What would Bond have thought?
Corporately, the British carmaker is going through (another) time of transition, but it has produced an amazing range of vehicles that appeal to the sophisticated thrill-seeker.
Aston owners are not the privileged sons of multimillionaires given a fast and expensive toy for their 21st birthday, they are successful investment bankers, high-achieving lawyers and self-made entrepreneurs who want a status symbol that reflects their real daredevil mentality.
And they are also journalists of a certain age who want to recapture the glamour and thrill of their youth, and who order their skimmed lattes shaken, not stirred.