October 10 2012
Simon de Burton
It’s less than two weeks until the latest Bond film, Skyfall, comes to cinemas, and although details are scant, you can bet your bottom dollar that 007 will once more be reunited with his beloved Aston Martin DB5.
The legendary British marque has been inextricably linked with Bond since the first appearance of a DB5 in 1964’s Goldfinger, and the celebrated “gadget” car from that film sold for a remarkable £2.9m when it crossed the block at RM Auctions in London two years ago. Now, 50 years after the making of the original Bond movie Dr No – and in the run up to Aston’s centenary in 2013 – the brand has pulled the wraps off a car the like of which even Ian Fleming could never have imagined (even in his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang mindset).
The AM 310 Vanquish is, according to Aston’s CEO Dr Ulrich Bez, “the finest production car we have ever made”. Using design techniques inspired by the limited-edition, £1.2m One-77 supercar, the Vanquish features a six-litre V12 engine that punches out 565 horsepower to propel this entirely Bond-worthy road-going missile from standstill to 62mph in 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 183mph. Typical of the marque’s commitment to cutting-edge design, the car has aluminium and composite underpinnings and body panels that are individually crafted from hand-layered carbon fibre, specially treated to ensure a glass-smooth paint finish and to prevent the weave “sagging” over time.
Intended as a replacement for the outgoing DBS (the high-performance version of the DB9), the Vanquish boasts entirely new bodywork created by Aston’s design chief Marek Reichman. He has clearly relished the versatility of working in carbon fibre, which allows the creation of far more complex shapes than conventional steel or aluminium. As a result, the car looks deliciously taut and muscular, with its many curves and planes catching the light to truly magical effect. Bar the One-77, it’s undoubtedly the most striking new-generation Aston yet made.
The two-seat or optional 2+2 interior, meanwhile, features deep sports seats that cocoon driver and passenger, high-tech touch-screen switches and a superb Bang & Olufsen 1,000-watt “infotainment” system with no fewer than 15 speakers and a Wi-Fi hub. The Vanquish is surprisingly practical, too – the 368-litre boot is more than half as large again as that of the DBS.
But forget practicality – what’s it like to drive? The answer is, of course, that it’s a truly impressive GT car. The performance, brakes and handling are all that you would expect from a motor that is primarily designed as a high-speed, continent-devouring gentleman’s express (although on rough roads you’re frequently reminded of its sporting roots). And the magnificent howl from its twin-pipe exhaust system – which gets appreciably louder when the engine and handling set up is switched to “sport” – does little to discourage enthusiastic use of the throttle.
Almost more impressive, however, is the way this beast of a machine turns into a gentle pussycat when required to crawl through city traffic – which, let’s face it, is where many owners will end up driving it.
If Q doesn’t order one for Bond’s next mission, I’ll eat Oddjob’s hat…