On the road: Aston Martin DBS
Not everyone who gets behind the wheel of an Aston Martin has an overwhelming urge to be a secret agent - especially with the new DBS
I know that the Bond films have done more for sales of Aston Martins than any track success or car journalist's rave review, but let us, for a moment, explore the psyche of the kind of man who would buy a car just because James Bond drove one.
There are two things we can immediately deduce about him: he will be wealthy, of course, and he will want to spend £160,000 of that wealth pretending, in his head, to be a fictional British secret agent. (I can sympathise: I once drove a Vanquish to Dungeness nuclear power station, then drove away really fast pretending that I had planted a bomb in it that was about to go off and I was being chased by a missile-firing helicopter. This either gives me a unique insight into the type of man we are talking about, or suggests that I am him, but without the money. Or both.) From the second we can make various assumptions about his/my emotional maturity and myriad delusional tendencies. I once met a man who owned a silver DB5, for instance. He also owned the biggest train set I have ever seen. At weekends he did civil war re-enactments.
The tragedy of all this is that, without all Bond baggage, the DBS is a really desirable car. It may be slower than the Vanquish it replaces - and not being able to top 200mph is slightly embarrassing in this price stratosphere - but it is a far better developed machine than anything Aston has ever built. The moment you move off in it the DBS just feels more taut and agile than the DB9 it is so blatantly based on (to the extent that a more honourable name might be DB9 Vantage). A weight loss, power gain and standard fit ceramic brakes help, but you just get the feeling Aston has put in the development miles on this car, that it has tested and refined it more rigorously than anything before. More importantly, is has a key made out of sapphire that plugs into the dash to become the starter button! Like, ohmygodhowcoolisthat?
Ironically, the DBS has been launched just as Aston has parted company from Ford, the company that has done more than any to help Aston realise its potential. The real test now will be to see whether new owners Prodrive can continue the upward curve of Aston's recent fortunes with the forthcoming Rapide.
Unfortunately, the DBS will feature in the next Bond film which will only spur the fantasist owners on even more. Really, there is nothing more pitiful than someone who can't face up to reality. Honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that Bond drove a DBS, I'd buy one tomorrow.