By Mark Elias
Thursday, Apr 12th, 2012 @ 11:30 am
 
It's not every day one gets to exercise his inner Bond, James Bond. But it's also not every day that the phone rings, asking us if we'd like to have a date with a 2012 Aston Martin DBS Carbon Edition.

We figure that's like getting a night out with a supermodel and doing so with the wife's approval at the same time.

Come along, and you can eavesdrop as we get a feel for the DBS Carbon, the most exclusive model in an already exclusive lineup.

What is it?
Based on Aston Martin's line-leading DBS Coupe, the DBS Carbon is everything the anything -but-standard standard model delivers, with a few extras to keep your local Oligarchs and emerging one-percenters happy.

Building on the original DBS Carbon as introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Salon in 2009, the 2012 now offers a choice of colors that include Flame Orange, Ceramic Grey, and, of course, Midnight Carbon Black metallic. Add to that a bevy of carbon fiber materials that accent nearly everything from the mirrors, to the doorsill kick plates, the interior grab handles, the trim around the center console, to the front splitter and the rear diffusers among other placements.

Although the DBS name has been used by the Aston Martin Company for their 1967 through 1972 coupe, that classic bears no resemblance to the top-of-the-line DBS Carbon that we had a chance to drive. Instead, our modern day namesake was outfitted with the firm's German-built 6.0-liter V12 engine, which manages to produce 510 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, and 420 lb-ft of torque at 5,750 rpm. It came with a top speed of 183 mph and with a curb weight of 3,740 lbs since performance does not come lightly. Wailing on the skinny pedal causes an active bypass valve to open, which allows more air mixture in and a band of demons screaming to get out. This exercise yields, among other things, a 0 to 60 sprint in 4.2 seconds. The same engine, albeit a bit modified, also motivates the DBR9 and DBRS9 race cars.

Ours was also equipped with the six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission. We've used the center console-mounted P R N and D transmission selector buttons before. Looking like buttons you would find in an elevator, they do their job, but we're not fans of the layout. On the other hand, we love how you can squeeze the alloy paddle shift levers. But we also had to remember after waiting for a stoplight that the transmission, once engaged, would not shift itself until the D button was once again pushed.

What's it up against?
As for rivals, the DBS Carbon has a few. Some are priced below the Aston, while others exceed it by some not insignificant amounts.

From a sheer supercar standpoint you can start with the Audi R8 GT at just shy of $200,000. Next to the party is the Bentley Continental GT Supersports at $267,000, followed by the Ferrari 599 Coupé at nearly $320,000.

How does it look?
The lineage. It's unmistakable. With DNA that dates back all the way to the DB4,the first of the legendary looking Astons that went on to cement its spot as a genuine British sports tourer, not to mention official ride of Britanni's modern day Knight of the Realm, James Bond, the DB line is the range given to models since the firm was purchased by Sir David Brown in 1947. Certainly the grille work is more taut and agile than the past. The fenders (or wings as they are called across the pond) bulge outward with larger than life proportions to accommodate the 20-inch meats on the painted and polished alloy wheels.

The paint is stellar, seeing seven coats being laid down and 25 hours of flat hand sanding and polishing in the process. Unfortunately, some dufus with a rotary buffer really did a number on our media fleet car it before we took charge for the weekend.

Large intakes suck cooling air into the engine bay, while hood-mounted louvers in the carbon fiber bonnet release the hot air (and audio track that lurks underneath.) Not to be outdone, the hood, roofline, and boot all share in the CF fun, and, at the same time, lower the DBS's total weight and center of gravity.

LED lighting is everywhere on this Carbon, including the trademark sidestrakes which add visual accent to the fender vents. And just for a touch of pluck, the rear deck lid spoiler offers a little attitude that to our eye appears to be flipping off all others who dare come near.

And on the inside?
To sit in the DBS Carbon is to be cosseted. Like a spoiled child, the interior immediately spoils its occupants. Unless you manage to pull the short straw and are relegated to the backseat. The driver's seat is supercar-stylish which sometimes implies tragically hip, but the reality is that these seats work. Bolstering held us in place while managing some severe corner cutting. They managed to keep us refreshed while driving through an unusually warm spring, although there was no ventilated seat functions to keep the flop sweats at bay.

The leather-covered roof liner added a luxe-look to the overall cockpit, as did the single needle stitching covering the dashboard. To our eyes, the gauge face numbers could stand to be larger, while the alloy paddle shifters that join the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel give great control.

The center stack is a sublime combo of Carbon and Piano Black, which serves as the location for a popup Garmin navigation unit and its six-inch screen. We still think the Garmin is a bit low-rent for the real estate it occupies, so we would love to see a revised dashboard with built in monitor that is apropos for a car in this segment.

The P, R, N, and D buttons are about played out. No, let's go further. They are stylishly annoying, a distraction when going from paddle shift back to normal drive mode.

But does it go?
Seeing that the 6.0-liter is the engine of choice for the Empire's lead secret agent, the V12 should be claimed as a national treasure and kept under lock and key with the Crown Jewels in some tower in Buckingham Palace. Yeah, we know the car is built in Gaydon, Warwickshire, with the powerplant coming from Cologne, Germany, but we're just saying.

Starting the car is an event in itself, with the whirring of a starter motor that seems to build up speed while waiting for the fuel pump to deliver the engine's lifeblood. At once, a thunderous roar from all twelve cylinders swirls its way out of the twin tailpipes, scaring household pets and a few neighbors, too. A high tip in occurs which you quickly get used to. It's just the price you pay getting into a new car.

Underway in the DBS Carbon, the steering feel is almost go-kart-like. It's very direct and easily centers following a turn, which is a feeling that goes missing in many modern cars with their electronically boosted steering systems.

In other words, the car will go where you will it to go.

Mashing the skinny pedal from a standing start sees the big 6.0-liter V12 slamming you into the seat under heavy acceleration. The thrill of the G-forces have you laughing like a little schoolgirl until you suddenly regain your senses, and realize that you are quickly approaching triple digit territory.

A sports car it is not, but for those looking for just a bit more zip to their GT car, the DBS Carbon will do nicely.

Why you would buy it:
You like your Walter Mitty existence shaken, not stirred.

Why you wouldn't:
Your tastes run more Chianti or Bittburger than gin and tonic (or, apparently, Heineken).

Leftlane's bottom line
While not perfect, the Aston Martin DBS Carbon offers an alternative to other supercars while maintaining a sense of decorum that some of the more Continental rivals don't possess. Compared to even more exclusive but similarly priced rivals, this most Astonish of Martins is a bit of a poor deal when it comes to its list price, however.

A master of its own domain, it possesses all the charm, and rakishness that a Bond girl could desire.

2012 Aston Martin DBS Carbon base price, $284,976.47. As tested, $292,278.47.
High spec alarm, $450; Smoker's kit, $570; Keyfob pouch, $72; Satellite Radio, $1,495; Gas Guzzler Tax, $2,800; Destination, $2,115.


Words and photos by Mark Elias.
  • Aesthetics

    A

  • Technology

    B-

  • Green

    C-

  • Drive

    B

  • Value

    C

  • Score

    B-