James Bond has had some questionable rides over the years. An AMC Hornet, Lincoln Mark VII and a Ford LTD have all brought disgrace to an automotive reputation that has otherwise been exemplary. Yet in "Casino Royale," the starring 2008 Aston Martin DBS is not only worthy, but it essentially serves as a metaphor for the film's unconventional, less polished take on the Bond legend. "A tough guy in a dinner suit" is how the DBS's designer Marek Reichman describes his creation.
The DBS is a modified version of Aston's already highly desirable DB9. Like Daniel Craig's muscular, tuxedo-clad Bond, the DBS is strikingly handsome, yet its bulging fenders and more chiseled fascia give the impression that it can kick your teeth in if you challenge it. A 510-horsepower V12 (a 60-hp increase) lurks under its sculpted carbon-fiber hood, and with a curb weight of only 3,737 pounds (143 less than the DB9's), the DBS can hit 60 mph in about 4 seconds flat. It also makes gloriously intimidating sounds. Press the sapphire crystal key fob into its dashboard slot and listen with glee as the engine spins and roars to life, like the crack of a whip engaging an avalanche. That avalanche returns anytime the driver dives into the ample power band -- yet the engine and exhaust thankfully remain civil when cruising.
While the DBS is clearly a tough guy, there's more to the "dinner suit" part than its styling. The interior is simply stunning, swathed in leather, Alcantara and subtle accent trim of aluminum, carbon fiber and piano black. Unlike the DB9, the DBS accommodates only two people, but they will be surprisingly comfortable over long journeys with seats that strike a brilliant balance between comfort and support. Road trip comfort is also aided by a surprisingly compliant suspension, considering the car's sporting nature.
When it comes to the exotic market segment, each model usually chisels out its own niche, making direct comparisons difficult. The Bentley Continental GT Speed provides performance and British prestige similar to that of the DBS, but it's designed to offer a greater degree of opulent comfort than visceral performance. For an entirely different flavor, Ferrari's fiery 599 Fiorano offers superior performance and handling, while the 612 Scaglietti is fairly even with the DBS on paper. There are a few other contenders (including Aston's own DB9), but in the end, though, this type of purchase is all about preference and irrational emotion.
Of course, there's certainly nothing more irrational than a brand associated with bumper-mounted rockets and ejector seats. However, Aston Martin is also a brand known for producing cars that are achingly beautiful and wildly powerful. The 2008 Aston Martin DBS deservedly takes a place inside James Bond's garage, and we have no doubt that in the real world, Aston's newest flagship will make a fine addition for those with the financial means.