2008 Aston Martin DBS First steer
- Words by Anthony Crawford (in the UK) - Photography by CarAdvice
Our sole purpose of going to England was to be the first Australian media outlet to drive the no nonsense, hard-core, Aston Martin DBS. You’ll more than likely know this car, as James Bond’s British Secret Service company car, in the last Bond Film.
It also happens to be the best looking automobile on the planet and is unrivalled in the “class” department.
But if you’re Australian, you won’t get one this year, for love or money. To make matters worse, our 2009 allotment will most likely see many willing buyers miss out, only to join the 2010 queue!
It’s the same story throughout the world. Aston Martin has created a masterpiece, and there are way too many collectors.
With a great deal of persistence, persuasion and difficulty, Aston Martin Australia had organised for Car Advice, to get a full day with “DBS1” from 8.30am – 4.30pm. But we nearly blew the bloody mission completely. “M” would not have been happy.
We missed our flight from Bologna to London and didn’t have the available cash (amazingly, no credit cards accepted) for the outrageous 700 Euro, S-Class Benz ride to Milan, where the next available plane was leaving early the next morning.
Instead, we opted for the budget priced, 50 Euro leg to Bologna airport, where we promptly rented a car from Hertz, who were by far the most competitive (an important consideration with four maxed out credit cards on hand) and drove back to Sant’Agata Bolognese, where we feasted on three of the world’s greatest pizzas I have ever eaten, for seven euro each! The restaurant is called “Maggi”. Bookmark it.
By the time we made it to Milan, it was 2.00am, and we hit the sack, courtesy of Alborz’s uncle’s place. The family had stayed up for hours waiting for our arrival although; we didn’t dare mention that we drove back 30kms just to eat pizza! Worse still, we had to be up at 4.30am to drive to the airport and make the flight to Gatwick, in the UK.
It’s a surreal feeling as you pass by the main gates to Jaguar and Land Rover, two of the biggest names in British Automotive history.
You know you’re getting close to the hallowed ground, when a V8 Vantage and DBS scream by you looking more like a couple of low flying Tornado fighter jets. Our adrenalin levels were through the roof, despite our lack of sleep.
Security at the Aston Martin guardhouse is tight - real tight. The guards, while pleasant enough, had that ex-SAS look about them. We answered “yes sir” to these guys, as they directed us to pull to the side of the road, while our PR contact was tracked down for approval to enter the place.
A small crew from Top Gear were shooting a segment in a DB9 Volante (with roof down) close to where we were parked, and given it was a bitterly cold and windy day, we sure were glad it was they in the soft top and not us.
The main building at Aston Martin is an outstanding piece of modern architecture, complete with its own mote, and in stark contrast to the company’s previous low rent facility in the ancient city of Newport Pagnell.
Paul was the designated bus driver for the day, and parked the Renault Espace next to no less than four spanking new DBS's.
The key, more a piece of jewellery, is made from hand polished stainless steel and genuine sapphire. Aston calls it the ECU (Emotion Control Unit). You simply push it into the special docking slot and hold it there, until the hand made 6.0-litre V12 awakens.
Right away, I notice the clutch pedal requires very little effort and pushing the huge milled alloy shifter into first, is slippery smooth. I’m only driving at a power walk pace within the Aston Martin compound, and already I want to own this car.
That’s surprising, given the 345kg weight advantage in favour of the Italian, which by the way, accounts for the 20kg weight loss in the DBS thanks to the no cost optional carbon-fibre/Kevlar light weight seats. Although, incredibly thin in profile, they are extraordinarily comfortable and a must have item for enthusiastic pilots.
From the instant you dive into a corner in the DBS, you can feel how sharp the chassis is compared with a stock DB9. Part of the reason is weight, and a lot less of it.
Half the car is carbon-fibre and the other half is aluminium. The overall effect is positively stunning.
Like the V8 Vantage, the DBS offers huge grip levels despite its considerable length of 4721 mm, which believe it or not, is actually longer than a Mazda CX-7.
But if you’re going to get serious about bends, then just hit the “track” button (that’s the one with the little picture of the damper) and things get a whole lot stiffer.
All switches on the centre console appear to be hand milled aluminium, including the massive six-speed shifter.