James Bond's new Aston Martin DB10 drives into Belfast
City gets first showroom for the car that has a licence to thrill
Car connoisseurs got their first close look yesterday at James Bond's sleek, sophisticated and speedy new car - the Aston Martin DB10.
The ultimate luxury vehicle was on show in Belfast as Charles Hurst Group, Northern Ireland's biggest car retailer, opened a new £1m showroom exclusively designed for Aston Martin sales.
The firm holds the Aston Martin franchise for the whole of Ireland, where there are currently 200 Aston Martins on the road - although none have ejector seats or hidden missile launchers!
The major investment adds another seven jobs to Charles Hurst's 700-strong complement.
The news comes as Aston Martin prepares to take centre stage with the upcoming premiere of Spectre, the latest James Bond movie.
But there was a little bad news for wannabe 007s - the DB10 that features in the new film will not be on sale to the public.
Only 10 DB10s have been built, said Mike Gimson, senior sales executive at Aston Martin Belfast.
The firm has a target of selling 60 Aston Martins a year across Ireland, 18 of which are expected to be brand new.
Across the UK, only 14 new Aston Martins were sold in August, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Mr Gimson said: "The luxury car market is strong, and business is picking up.
"Demand is certainly there for Aston Martin's super-luxury cars."
He is now looking forward to the unveiling of the company's latest model, the DB11, due to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring. The new showroom features floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a unique luxury interior.
Customers will have access to exclusive services such as the 'atelier' (French for workshop), an intimate environment where buyers are invited to use their creativity and imagination to tailor their new vehicle to their own specification. For local businessman and petrolhead Darren Burns, the marque is hard to beat.
He'd recently parted from his 2009 Vantage 4.3 for a Range Rover, but there was regret in his voice as he spoke to the Belfast Telegraph.
"It has the performance that you get from a Ferrari, but with a lot more class," he said.
"It's for people who want a real supercar. You want that performance - but without the vulgarity of a Ferrari.
"Its appeal came from its British engineering heritage and the classic design, which still harks back to the classic DB5, the original James Bond car.
They've never lost that classic look."
Colin McNab, operations director at Charles Hurst, said the new showroom underlined the company's focus, commitment and continued investment in the world's best car brands.
"Our existing facilities already established across Northern Ireland have been complemented greatly by this exciting new dealership. Belfast is officially home to the ultimate in super-luxury motoring and Charles Hurst Group is proud to be opening this first-class retail unit to fulfil the needs of our loyal customers and potential owners," he said.
"The Aston Martin brand is synonymous with exclusivity and style, and we look forward to welcoming customers from across Ireland at this premier facility at our Boucher Road complex."