WORDS: PETER HOWARTH
James Bond has, of course, cast his immaculately tailored shadow over Aston Martin ever since Sean Connery took delivery from Q of that car in 1964’s Goldfinger. Here was a marriage of man and machine that made absolute sense. Fleming’s secret agent was aggressive but stylish, an English (well, Scottish) gentleman who was not too gentlemanly. Strong and sporty but elegant, Bond could do ruthless but he could also do witty. The DB5 was the motoring equivalent. The marque understood this perfectly. 007 is one of the best poster boys you could have for a brand, so, when 2015’s Spectre needed a new car for its hero, Aston Martin developed the DB10 and made only a handful (in various stages of working order), just for the movie. That’s product placement with a difference – you couldn’t even buy the thing. It was never put into production. Cut to today, a year after Spectre, and we’re at the launch of the DB11, which you certainly can buy – and I predict many will, because this sleek model is effortlessly beautiful – every inch a 21st-century Aston Martin. Ask the company’s chief exterior designer Miles Nurnberger why this is the case and you get two answers.
One is a lesson in proportion: the placement of the cabin, the line from the roof down through the windscreen through the centre of the front wheel and the mass of the cab that sits very neatly over the back wheel. It’s all about geometry, giving a ‘pure teardrop feeling to the back of the car’ and the smoothness of a ‘perfect pebble’ at the front. The other reason is more of a surprise. ‘The face of the car is the face of an English gent,’ says Nurnberger. ‘It wears its nose slightly high and it has a moustache around the grille.We call this the S line, and if you go back to the DB2 and DB5, you’ll see it there. It’s become a bit diluted over the years, so we wanted to get back its beautiful curve.’ So, though the DB11 boasts pioneering aerodynamics and is powered by a new, 5.2-litre, twin-turbocharged V12 engine designed in-house; is built on a lighter, stronger, more space-saving bonded-aluminium structure; is the most efficient, powerful and dynamic model in Aston Martin’s history; drives like a dream; and turns heads wherever it goes, the reason I want one is that it has a ’tache. And however silly that might sound, I confess: it’s true. From £154,900; astonmartin.com