Live and let drive

Live and let drive

Donald ‘M’ Emslie was sent on a BQ mission. To test a new Aston Martin, see if it could live up to the classic Bond DB5, then make a rendezvous with a collaborator. Here is his top secret report.

Like most men of my age (a tender 58) my first experience with Aston Martin was on my 8th birthday when I became the owner of a Corgi model of the James Bond DB5 used in Goldfinger. 

Back in 1965 this little toy car was fascinating, parts moved when buttons were pressed and best of all the baddie would fly out of the roof when the ejector seat was deployed. Many happy hours passed playing with this magnificent toy which also inspired a lifelong fascination and attraction to Aston Martin with all of its understated elegance, sophistication power and speed.

So imagine my delight when asked to test drive the new Aston Martin Vanquish described as the pinnacle of the range and at 568BHP more than twice the power of the car James Bond drove 50 years ago.

What a privilege then to spend the day driving around the Lothians and Fife terrified at first by the sheer power at my disposal but enjoying every moment behind the wheel of this luxury supercar that lived up to every preconception of the brand.

Aston Martin 04This Grand Tourer is simply a delight to drive and if you choose to remain safely ensconced in automatic drive mode you could simply cruise effortlessly round town. Even if the odd set of traffic lights or pedestrian crossing got in the way while driving round town, or you had to pop into your local deli on the way home, it would all be accomplished in the easiest of ways.

The technology will assist in these situations, the rear view cameras and parking sensors would help you navigate the tightest of parking bays and the sound system with Bang & Olufsen speakers that pop out of the dashboard in front of you will either keep you calm while sitting in traffic or provide a booming sound track while out on the open road when you are inclined (and you will be) to depress your right foot. When you do you just feel and hear the power of the 6 litre V12 propel the car forward. It is an exhilarating experience.

In true Aston Martin style this car is both a super exciting power-house and a sophisticated, comfortable and relaxing drive. Should you choose to go touring. I could easily imagine this car effortlessly eating up the miles as you glide through the countryside, but also attacking the hairpin bends that you always see on the motor shows or would experience on one of my favourite drives over the Bealach na Ba to Applecross in Wester Ross.

Flip the gears from the automatic drive to the 8 speed Touchtronic paddles on either side of the steering wheel and you are immediately launched into a completely different driving world which is so powerful and responsive you can immediately understand what these chaps at Aston Martin have been doing for 100 years, and the value of their fantastic engineering and design.

I started my day driving rather gingerly round the Edinburgh ring road to get used to driving this supercar eventually coming off to make my way down to Leith for a rendezvous with John Dixon of Georgian Antiques who owns a 1999 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage.

We thought it would be fun comparing the Vanquish as the next generation of the Grand Tourer with one from nearly 20 years ago. The DB7 has all the classic Aston Martin style and John’s car is a lovely British Racing green, but the sleek curved carbon fibe body of the Vanquish, with the interior simplicity and elegance personified, is a thoroughly modern car and you can see that this car is designed to compete with the Italian thoroughbreds of Ferrari and Lamborgini in both performance and style.

I have never seen a car so admired. When parked outside Georgian Antiques during the photo shoot many people came up to look at the car, keen to discuss it and all proudly talking about its British history.

Aston Martin 03

Where I really fell for this car was in my drive to St Andrews choosing deliberately to stick to the B roads putting the car through its paces, however moderately, by using the Touchtronic gears and daring to press the accelerator, just a bit.

The sound as you do takes you straight to the race track and enhances the whole experience for the driver almost teasing you and coaxing you to test the car even further as it grips the road and negotiates every corner with ease. It was just great fun.

At the end of my day I was very sorry to hand the Vanquish back to the lovely people at Aston Martin Edinburgh and wished I could have been on a racetrack or on a drive to Applecross to experience how this car could really perform. Perhaps another day? All I can say is that James Bond would love this car but not as much as I do!

Donald Emslie is the former managing director of Scottish Television, and is director of Castle Hotel Management, which includes the five-star Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, in Frinton, Essex, as part of its portfolio.

The car Donald drove was an Aston Martin Vanquish Coupe, priced at £218,580. Supplied by Aston Martin Edinburgh Bankhead Drive, Edinburgh, EH11 4DJ  0131 442 2800