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Aston Martin DBS

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You may have seen this car before. Not on your high street, your neighbourís drive or a local car park, but on the big screen. The mix of seductive curves, British grit and sophistication is the perfect match for a certain secret agent. This is more than just as step up from a DB9: the Aston Martin DBS is a nose-to-tail workover, and that sublime exterior is just a taster. More muscle and yet more style, itís as seductive an introduction as 007 himself.

Itís not for show either, as the increased performance meant a need for bigger vents, better aerodynamics and more width to cover the wider track. Lower, wider and meaner than the DB9, it has an extra edge to its appearance that hints at the increased power and performance without shouting about it. Its looks are influenced by the Le Mans antics of the DBRS9 racer, but not dictated by it, which is as it should be, but there is plenty of lightweight carbon fibre which sheds weight and adds strength.

Pop open the doors with the slick hidden door handle, and it swings upwards and outwards with ease, inviting you in to the sumptuous cabin. Forget 2+2 seating: the DBS is strictly for you and one lucky passenger, although the space behind the front seats can be used to store small luggage items or an optional pair of occasional seats. But the emphasis is firmly on the one behind the wheel. The seats are designed to hold you in place much more than the standard items, the steering wheel is chunky and its leather stitching marks the top of the wheel - for when you start to explore the handling.

Itís a fabulous cabin to spend time in, and improved all the more by the now-standard Bang & Olufsen audio system. Itís another name you know, and the quality is as good as you would expect. With 1000W of power and acoustic lens technology, plus an iPod connection, itís the kind of audio standard inkeeping with the DBS.

The DBS already has a fabulous audio system of course: itís 12 cylinder, 6.0-litres in size and lives beneath that muscular, vented bonnet. In essence itís the same V12 that appears in the DB9, but here it gains an air intake bypass valve, allowing more air into the cylinders above 5,500rpm, plus reprofiled intake ports and a raised compression ratio.

Those changes give the DBS 510bhp and a mighty 420lb.ft of torque Ė more than enough to push it up to 191mph and from 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds.

The figures are a clue, but they donít really give the full story of the performance. The DBS does the ordinary stuff very well. Thereís so much torque available from tickover that trickling through urban traffic is a doddle, especially if you go for the optional Touchtronic gearbox. Do so and you have a slick automatic gearbox when you need it, and manual control when you donít. It glides forward on a gentle squeeze of the throttle, and avoids being temperamental or hard work like some supercars. Not that it is at all dull of course - the taughtness of the ride and the sharpness of the steering are noticeable however slowly youíre driving, and as a result it feels special all the time, as well as leaving you longing for the open road.

It wonít be long before the temptation to open it up becomes to strong. Leave in automatic mode and a strong squeeze of the throttle draws on the strong torque, and the DBS urges on in a satisfying fashion. Better still, punch the Sport button and flick the left paddle to slot down a gear or two, and exploit all the revs. Beyond 4,000rpm that huge V12 snarls with menace, and the full 510bhp is delivered with gusto. Itís an enormously flexible and characterful engine that is more than just a collection of mechanical parts: in an industry where technology is everything, it feels unhindered and alive and keen to join in the fun.

Where the regular DB9, even with the optional Sport Pack, has GT comfort as its first priority, the DBS tips the balance the other way. The weight saving, the stiffer suspension with electronic damping, and the carbon ceramic brakes all point towards a genuine supercar-busting ability. This is still a big car of course,
but the DBS offers pure responses, excitement without the tang of nervousness near the limit and the reassurance of a two-stage stability system. Accomplished, hugely entertaining and still practical enough to use everyday, it is a GT that works outside of the normal rules.