Aston Martin DBS
*I'd been behind the wheel of the DBS for an hour or so. The vibrations from the big 12-cylinder engine put me in a sort of shamanistic trance. I felt like I could see into the future, see the road before it came into view. I was able to go faster than normal men, go deeper into the corners, brake with extreme prejudice.
And then it happened. I pulled over, shut off the car and stepped outside. On the outskirts of some hopelessly picturesque French village, I loosed a scream. Not some frightened, pansy-ass scream, but a Tarzan-like primal bellow, the type used after defeating a gigantic anaconda or a mean 800- pound gorilla.
A thousand-year-old man on a bicycle pedaled up beside me. Behind watery eyes, I saw a glint of recognition, a camaraderie of sorts. He muttered something, thumped his chest with a tobacco-stained hand and pointed up the road. "Conduire!" Drive, he said.
Few, if any, cars have roused my being so effectively. Perhaps it's because the DBS is so direct, so centered, so unapologetically powerful. While many modes of transportation are regarded as female, the DBS is not. It's a UFC champ winning the Nobel Prize, a fanatical warrior with a knighthood. From the moment you insert the crystal-infused key into the dashboard (la King Arthur) to the first angry snarl of its V12, the DBS resonates with masculinity. I am man, hear me roar (apologies to Helen Reddy).
OK, the testosterone buzz is waning. You might, however, be curious as to why the new Aston Martin DBS is so damn brilliant. Start with the engine: 510 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque are squeezed from six liters spaced over 12 cylinders. Mated to an industrial-strength manual six-speed gearbox, linked in turn to a carbon fiber driveshaft, it provides acceleration that's instantaneous and unrelenting.
The engine is loosely based on that of the Vanquish (in this editor's opinion, one of the finest-sounding engines of all time). The DBS is an absolute symphony on wheels, the type of stuff you hear on your way to Heaven, a mixture of Stradivarius and Stratocaster. An extra 40 hp came from careful massaging of the intake and exhaust tracts, while the engine itself was shoved closer to the center for optimal balance. Word is, a brand-new sequential gearbox will make it into next year's DBS; a sort of mixed blessing. I say this because the Aston's current manual six-speed feels fantastic, its actuation as precise as Denver's atomic clock. Perhaps my only gripe is that the center console gets in the way sometimes. Aston includes a special moveable elbow rest-I'm guessing to protect funny bones during spirited shifts.
"If you don't want to shift, go ahead and drive through town in sixth gear," said Dr. Bez, Aston's top gun. "The DBS will not protest."
My first thought was blasting through a village at 170 mph, a feat the DBS will do without breaking a sweat. Bez meant nothing quite so exciting or dangerous. He meant simply slogging slowly through city limits in top gear, the type of activity that kills most cars. The DBS never bogged, bucked or was otherwise belligerent. I've never seen a car do that. Driven correctly, few cars are as rewarding. Though broad of chest, this Aston will hold a tight line, right up there with Porsche's 911. It's also highly communicative, giving the driver ample time to correct and adjust. Again, very Porsche-like. Feel like drifting? No problem. The DBS is not above such laddish behavior.
More than 300 pounds lighter than the Vanquish, the liberal use of carbon fiber body panels allowed DBS designers more flexibility on form and shape, allowing them to 'wrap' the body over the wheels and tires. And yes, all those snarky vents and ducts are functional, delivering air where it's needed most.
Beneath the 20-inch alloys lie gigantic carbon-ceramic rotors, ultra-light discs gripped by massive six-piston calipers in the front and four-pots in back. They came in handy when we saw speeds that would make the autobahn jealous. But they were quick-lived spurts; I hammered these binders until they were a dull red, repeating the exercise a few hundred times.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and began to pace about the hotel room. I had told the Aston crew I'd need a car for sunrise photography. And no, I didn't need a driver/assistant. I lied. I simply wanted to spend more time behind the wheel of this fantastic machine, bask in the warm glow of the instrument panel, listen to its engine purr, feel the heft of its glowing crystal key. That the DBS is incredibly quick and agile is almost beside the point. I needed to bond with this machine, thump my chest and remember why it rules to be a man.
2008 Aston Martin DBS
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
6.0-liter V12, dohc, 48-valve
Independent double wishbones, coil nsprings, monotube adaptive dampers, anti-roll bars, Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with Track mode
F: Six-piston calipers, 15.7-inch carbon ceramic rotors
R: Four-piston calipers, 14.2-inch carbon ceramic rotors
Wheelbase: 107.9 in.
Curb Weight: 3,713 lb
Peak Power: 510 hp @ 6500 rpm
Peak Torque: 420 lb-ft @ 5750 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.3 sec.
Top Speed: 191 mph
-What we like:
God-like engine, drop-dead styling, outstanding handling
-What we don't:
Intrusive center console, funky door handles
The Price Tag