Allow me to share with you my 24 hours with Martin... Aston Martin (apologies, James Bond references will now be kept to a minimum).
When Mark Hill showed me around the V8 Vantage at Brookfields Aston Martin garage, a beautiful steely blue (‘Sea Storm’), waited patiently for me on the forecourt. Sinking into the cockpit felt like stepping into another world. The cream leather sports seats were firm, like having arms around you. The smell of the brand new interior was intoxicating and I started to feel a thrill of anticipation as to what was to come. It was, I imagined, like being held by a stranger and not caring less how the night might end. Very Bond.
However, the best was definitely yet to come as I started the engine. One of the most amazing sounds I have ever heard. A child’s first cry? A marriage proposal? They are both up there with the starting engine of the Aston Martin. A two-stage growl from the 4.7 litre engine to a roar that begs to be driven.
Now, I could tell you all the fancy spec of the car, torque, electronic brakeforce distribution but what you need from this review is how driving a car like this makes you feel because really that is what’s important.
Mark warned me that I, or rather the car, would be honked at, stared at, driven up the back of, and refused out into traffic. Personally, I didn’t find that, however, as the driving position is very low and the car so subtle and stealthy, I could not actually see into other people’s cars or anyone that was standing on the pavement.
On the way to the Harrogate Business lunch at the Pavillions, I started to wonder whether this handsome stranger and I might not be talking the same language – as the Sportshift II ASM gear box does take a bit of getting used to. But I was advised to use the ‘automatic’ option in traffic so that the car could just drive itself and I did not have to keep shifting up and down the gears. I was looking forward to a bit of open road around Kirkby Overblow, but was denied by a hay lorry so the car was soon chomping at the bit like a racehorse.
I was starting to realise that this is a car that is not too keen on going less than 60 mph. The gear change was starting to irritate as in automatic there is a distinct roll forward and back as the gear shifts. This is improved slightly in the manual mode which increases the speed of the gear change but keeps you busy on the paddles trying to get out of Leeds.
I said I would call into our LCF Law Harrogate office to collect a couple of colleagues to attend the lunch so that frankly, we could show off when we pulled up in front of 500 of our contemporaries! Ah – but only two seats. This is a car for a couple, a loner or a loner and their one special friend. I have to admit it was disappointing not to be able to share the joy with as many people as I could find!
Once the lunch was over and I had driven around the car park of the Pavillions to show off a bit, I was back down to earth with a bump managing the school run, with heavy traffic, pouring rain and having to do it twice as the two seats meant I had to do shifts with two children and their stuff. Perhaps this beautiful car deserves an open road, a sunny day and a different life to the one I lead....
The following day dawned and I was determined to get the most out of the car before I had to take it back. I drove out to Wetherby and the first foray on the A1. Well, that’s more like it! Smooth gear shifts into 7th gear on the paddles, and we were away.
Then get your foot down and the car immediately responds with 0 – 64 in less than 5 seconds. The engine roared and at last we were friends. This was a brilliant experience and summed up when my 10 year old asked the price and I informed him it was over £100K. “Brilliant - I’m saving up!” he replied.
The car Rachel drove was an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe, 4.7 litre, 7 speed. On road price from £92,495. Price including all options, £108,010. Supplied by Aston Martin Leeds, JCT600, Brooklands, Ring Road, Lower Wortley Leeds, LS12 6AA. Tel 0113 389 0777