At the tender age of seven, I fondly remember seeing the first car that truly appealed to me above anything else – an Aston Martin. The image has stayed with me my entire adult life, that svelte hand-crafted body, luxurious and exclusive attainability matched to brute power.
Phaedra, a film from the early 1960s saw actor Anthony Perkins lovingly caress the rear flanks of a DB4. 55 years later, an elderly gentleman doffed his hat as we purred through the Essex village of Finchingfield: teenagers bowed in mock reverence and small boys from nearby Felsted School stopped and gaped.
The object of all this attention was the flagship Aston Martin DBS Superleggera – an effortless, luxury super GT, eminently suitable for a weekend dash, or cruise down to the South of France.
Superleggera translates to ‘superlight’ and pays tribute to Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera which helped the marque create the lightest grand tourers of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The DBS Superleggera, however, is an awesome supercar with savage power. It combines an intimidating street fighter’s stance with phenomenal road presence and is blindingly fast.
Driving through the sleepy villages of Wethersfield and Finchingfield early on a dry and sunny autumn morning with the windows down, the Superleggera’s big V12 murmured and burbled, reverberating between the buildings on either side of the road.
Safely cosseted in a hand-stitched cabin, we are rolling into Cornish Hall End and the big Aston has woken up, ready for a journey of dual carriageways and open roads, where it will run and run all day.
The open road is where it excels – a pleasure to drive and fairly docile, but on demand will produce superlative response from its 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 engine generating 715bhp, that will hit a top speed of 211mph and take you from 0-62 mph in 3.4 seconds.
The steering is keen, accurate and consistent and this makes for re-assuring feedback. The traction is superb and the body roll minimal. The brakes are just fantastic and have huge reserves of power for road use – you can just jump on them and the speed is cut to zero.
Its appearance is enticing and for a big car, it is an extremely elegant design. The cabin is beautifully finished but for me lacks that wonderful, memorable aroma of the traditional Aston Martin wood and leather Gentleman’s Club atmosphere. Why did nobody bottle that scent and market it? It also lacks the Lamy pen fitted in the dashboard in the previous model Vanquish, but I’m merely nitpicking here.
In this stunning car, this most special of Aston Martins, you arrive at your destination only to concoct a new journey, just to be able to continue the driving experience. You realise on exiting the DBS that most other cars just seem “thin” by comparison.
My biggest dislike of the DBS Superleggera was taking it back to the lovely Rachel Stanton at Aston Martin Cheltenham – for me the most helpful and knowledgeable person at Aston Martin over the last 12 years.
Thanks again to her for making all of this possible and for keeping alive that seven-year old’s dream.