How far would you be willing to travel to test-drive a brand-new £159,000, six-litre, V12- powered, race-bred, two-seater Aston Martin? The question would normally be a rhetorical one for me, given that cars are usually delivered to and collected from my front door by polite, efficient, uniformed men in their sixties.
But some supercar manufacturers have realised they can save cash by getting desperate junior motoring correspondents like me to travel to them instead. So, for July, I went to the Slough Trading Estate to pick up a Ferrari; this month, I found myself getting a train to Leamington Spa to collect the Aston Martin DBS.
Were the 6.30am rise, the soggy Upper Crust sandwich, the two hours spent sitting next to a man listening to Leona Lewis on his iPod and the unexplained half-hour delay worth it? Of course. After all, this is the car that Daniel Craig crashes in Quantum of Solace. This is the car that a stunt driver crashed on the way to the set of Quantum of Solace. It has an engine that sounds like an earthquake and a bespoke Bang & Olufsen audio system delivering a 'sound image' through a total of 13 channels across 10 speaker locations; and to hire a DBS for three days would cost at least £3,400. As a chore, picking it up from the Midlands stands next to 'having to' snog Aishwarya Rai or 'being forced' to stay at Claridges. Frankly, I'd even consider getting a train to Hull to repeat the experience.
But, having said that, and as fun as it was, I'd travel much further, possibly even by Ryanair, to spend three days in the older, cheaper and smaller DB9. It isn't as noisy as the DBS, of course, but Aston Martins aren't meant to sound like 747s. It is also less fast and powerful, but Astons aren't meant to be pure racing machines either, and, besides, I found the DBS a bit of a handful below 40mph.
And then there are its looks. The press release says: 'Every line, crease and curve conveys the enormous potential of the DBS, a seductive blend of refinement and raw power' - and it's right. The aluminium, magnesium alloy and carbon-fibre composite body, the LED rear lamps and side-repeaters all conspire to scream: power! It's impressive, but Astons should surely be more elegant than that. I guess the difference between the two models is like the difference between a bodybuilder (DBS) and an athlete (DB9). Both are impressive in their way, but one is significantly more classy than the other.
I'll take one ...
Thanks but no thanks ...
The DB9 is cheaper and better.
Aston Martin DBS £159,043
Engine: V12, 5,935 cc
Combined power: 510 bhp at 6,500 rpm
Torque: 420 lb/ft at 5,750 rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual (auto option)
Fuel: 15.5 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2: 388 g/km
0-62 mph: 4.3 secs
Top speed: 191 mph