Your English-manor-garden variety Aston Martin DBS has 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. The 6.0-liter V12 that powers it will pull the coupe to 60 in 4.3 seconds. It costs $305,000, and it is a special car. But we drove one that was even more special. We drove one of the Aston Martins that was in Quantum of Solace, driven by the man who plays The Man. We didn't even have to break into some supermax-like vault-within-a-vault to get to it. Aston Martin delivered it to us for a day of spy play, yet that didn't make the experience any less thrilling. Follow the jump for the story.
Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
This movie DBS is slightly different from the "average" – if we can use such a descriptor for this car – DBS. It has carbon fiber bucket seats that are adjustable fore-and-aft, but don't recline. Swathed in a lightly padded mantle of leather, they are unexpectedly comfortable. This being a Euro-spec car, the odometer is measured in kilometers, but the electronic speedo displays miles-per-hour. The only other alteration: Quantum of Solace plaques on the rocker panels.
The first thing you should know about the DBS: there is no excess about it – in either direction. It represents the apex of English understatement. We can imagine words like "adequate" and "sufficient" and phrases like "that should do nicely, don't you think?" during the engineering of the car. It is not viciously fast, but it is nowhere near slow. It is brutally beautiful, but we wouldn't call it exactly pretty. It is docile around town, but it's no pussycat.
However, in the aggregate, you discover what is superior about the car: as a package, it is what the reserved Englishman might call "exceptional." In American English, we're talking about marvelous.
The details without and within are phenomenal (just don't mention some of the switchgear). The carbon fiber lips on the front apron denote the aggression of detail. The entire sweep of the rear is like a quiet warning to any other car: "I don't want to hurt you... but I can." The interior leather is so luscious that if the donor bovine could see it, she would pound her chest and say "I did that!" Even the billet aluminum gearshift, which is a health hazard in Southern California – the car really should come with one glove that you could wear on hot days – coos to you, "Hold me..."
On the highway, the DBS is a tidy GT in the European fashion. On the urban cycle, it is blessed with enough manners and aplomb to play Archbishop to a royal coronation. No matter where it goes, it refuses to comport itself with anything other than agile grace.
That is, until you order it to. And then it is ruthless, merciless, but never to excess. Perfect your timing with the pedals, gears, and lever, and while you might not be one of the best killers in the business, the car can make you look and feel like one of the best drivers.
For the time you have put in gaining the reflexes needed to master the DBS, your reward is an anima, a life, breath seeping out just in front of you through vents in the hood. When you stop at a light the heat of internal combustible fury is exhaled in front of you. The effect is heady, and forms a closed loop: the road ahead is waving and curling through the heat, and that vision goes straight to your reptilian brain. Chemical signals deluge your hands and feet, which respond by whipping the DBS to the next light – because you have to see that heat vapor again – and when you do, it goes straight to the reptilian brain, which responds by...
For us, though, the single best thing about the DBS is the exhaust note. In the V8 Vantage, at around 3,500 rpm there's a wail out back like a banshee in the fen. In the DB9, the clamor is also not of this world, but it is more mature. The DBS, however, comes on like a Saxon god, unruffled by any other deity, who roars when goaded magnificently enough to be heard from Land's End to John o' Groats and throughout the seven kingdoms.
As that is occurring out back, strange things are happening to you inside the car as well. You keep bracing yourself in your carbon seat as if you might need to suddenly autocross through an Italian quarry. You check the mirrors with uncommon frequency because of course there could be people after you. And every once in a while, when you come around a corner with grande vitesse and feel the back end shifting out just a bit further than the front, you reach inside your jacket for the loaded Walther P99... that isn't there.
It is for all of these reasons that while this car might have been in the Quantum of Solace, to sit in and pilot it is to discover that the driver's seat is not at all a quantum of solace. What it is, is the quantum of cool.