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Fit for James Bond

IT&rsquo;S funny the varied reactions that you get when you are driving around in a supercar. Take a moment when I was parked unloading some things from the boot. A guy came over to the car, looked at me and probably wondered how I was going to react if he made a comment. His opening line was: &ldquo;That is a very, very beautiful car&rdquo;, to which I said: &ldquo;Thank you&rdquo;. <br /><br />He then asked if it was a DB9 and I told him that it was based on a DB9, it still has the same 6.0 litre V12 engine out front but here it&rsquo;s increased to offer 510bhp over 470bhp in the DB9 Volante. It is more muscular, lighter and therefore faster.<br /><br />He looked at me aghast and uttered the words: &ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t know stuff like that, you&rsquo;re a girl&rdquo;. Well, I said, the car isn&rsquo;t mine, I write about cars for a living and therefore it&rsquo;s my job to know. He asked me how much it is to buy. Roughly &pound;175,000, I said. He gestured to his bus and told me that it was worth &pound;250,000. Keen to stop the conversation from turning into a game of Top Trumps, I said that I thought the Aston might be a shade more manageable on track. I fired the engine up, he winced, and then grinned from ear to ear.<br /><br />But then I met four dudes in a hot hatch who frankly weren&rsquo;t having any of it. They were in the left hand lane of the dual carriageway, I was about to pass on their right but then they pulled out right in front of me and blocked me from passing for a mile or so.<br /><br />Anyway, the DBS is now back at HQ in Gaydon, more&rsquo;s the pity. It is one stunning machine. With 510bhp and 570nm of torque, roof up or down, the noise is aural Viagra.<br /><br />Those that read this page fairly regularly will know all about my plight with the local pigeons. Well, when you start the DBS up, it has the same effect as the Eurofighter Typhoon did overhead for the Festival of Speed here. Cartoon-style feathers hanging in mid air. Pigeon exodus. Result. The noise is shrill and angry and the look you receive from passers-by is either one of total disdain or climactic glee.<br /><br />So, is it faster than a DB9? Aston Martin has used a super-light fabric roof and components and there&rsquo;s a generous dose of carbon fibre around the car too. But the 4.3 seconds it takes to reach 62mph are sublime, not only is it back of the seat stuff but my God, the noise is incredible.<br /><br />Press the lever on the door and it opens wide and angles towards the sky. Jump in to the deepest leather race seats, press the clutch foot against the floor, push the key into the slot in the centre and wait for the welcome committee. Select first gear, push the revs into the low twos and ease off into a bit of driving nirvana. <br /><br />A and B roads are best, especially when you know them. Power down out of a corner and the DBS will shake its bootie nicely sideways. Try that same bed with all aids switched off and that&rsquo;s where you realise these roads don&rsquo;t provide the space you need to get out of some acute slithering. Unless of course you&rsquo;re James Bond, who the Coupe version of this car was designed for. His driving talents are limitless, naturally. And I don&rsquo;t have a track at my disposal, though, oh how I wish I did.<br /><br /><strong>THROTTLE RESPONSE</strong><br />If you have satellite navigation in use, listen out for the sound of the camera shutter in-car before you clap eyes on the real thing on the side of the road. Genius.<br />The throttle response is instant, and at the other end of the scale the carbon ceramic discs rein all that power back in very effectively. The vast engine sits right at the back of the long, elegant front, displacing the weight as centrally as possible.<br /><br />Steering is sharp, despite there being a long travel between the front wheels and the held wheel and there&rsquo;s really good fluidity to it too. As for ride quality, I took the DBS along the road of mass destruction which had absolutely no effect on the car at all. In Sport mode, it is more fidgety but totally bearable.<br /><br />I opted for the six-speed manual gearbox which is chunky, short on throw and like clutching a large handful of ice if you&rsquo;ve got the roof down &ndash; it&rsquo;s metal and takes some warming up. Incidentally, the roof is operable at speeds up to 30mph and takes 14 seconds to fold up or down, storing itself above the boot, which is good for a couple of squashy bags. There are two rear seats but they&rsquo;re not really fit for human use. The DBS is not designed to be a family car. That&rsquo;s where the forthcoming four-door Rapide comes in.<br /><br />I never managed to pin the needle to the far end but I reached its red line several times which is quite aggressive, and caused some epic popping from the twin exhausts when doing so.<br /><br />Bang and Olufsen have added even more theatre to this gorgeous, hand-built car, with speakers that pop up like Daleks out of the dashboard, impressive, cool and clever. The sound quality, even roof down, is superb. Despite this, I opted to stick with the tacho-produced engine notes which, like the car itself, I couldn&rsquo;t get enough of. Awesome.<br /><br /><strong>THE VERDICT</strong><br />DESIGN<br />PERFORMANCE<br />PRACTICALITY<br />VALUE FOR MONEY<br />