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ASTON'S IN 00-HEAVEN; Trademark Bond glamour at 183mph.. supercar is licenced to thrill.

Byline: Richard Hammond

BY the time you read this, Aston Martin could be partly owned by the Indian tractor company Mahindra & Mahindra. Is that a problem? What would 007 say? Once upon a time, Aston Martin was owned by car enthusiasts with deep pockets in their tweed blazers, including in the early days David Brown (ironically, a tractor manufacturer) and later, in the 1980s, by Victor Gauntlett - who was so British he owned a Spitfire.

Ford then owned Aston before selling it to a Kuwaiti investment company. Now the Kuwaiti company wants out and hence the possible sale this week.

But enough business stuff and on to the new Aston Martin Vanquish.

As usual, it looks a lot like other Astons, particularly the DB9 with which it shares quite a few bits and pieces. We've spent time before on the all-Astons-look-alike argument. And it's true, they do, but as we've also said before if everyone in your street looked like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. It's a problem you could live with. It wouldn't be a problem living with the Vanquish, either.

Under the long bonnet sits a very similar engine to that used in the DBS, which the Vanquish replaces. It's a 6.0-litre V12 with double variable valve timing and a massive 565bhp. That's an extra 55bhp over the DBS and enough to propel it to 183mph and from 0-62mph in 4.1sec. Impressive.

Unfortunately, Ferrari's F12 Berlinetta, which is a close rival to the Aston, has 730bhp and a top speed of 211mph. That doesn't matter much in the real world because neither owner will ever use all that performance, but then these cars aren't in the real world. There's a host of optional extras for the Vanquish with which you can crank up the price from the basic PS189,995 to business jet levels by ticking a few boxes. Charging PS995 for a reversing camera in a car this expensive is a bit much. Having the leather seat material quilted is a whopping PS2,495 but when you see it you know that if you were lucky enough to be able to buy a Vanquish you'd have to have it.

Getting into this car is an experience. The hinges glide on air as the wide door swings open and you sit low, wrapped in a world of leather. Some of the switches look a bit dated, but the overall effect is great.

I don't really like the glass start button but I like what happens when you press it and the V12 explodes into action and wakes the neighbours. It might lose out to Ferrari on the numbers but the Vanquish certainly doesn't lack drama.

On the steering wheel (you can have the same one as the PS1.4million One-77 if you shell out an extra PS995) are buttons for selecting Normal, Sport and Track suspension settings. Another adjusts the throttle, steering and gearbox - and one makes the exhaust even louder.

You can tell the Vanquish was developed in Britain because in Comfort mode it floats over bumps and ruts. The brakes are carbon ceramic, which amazingly come as standard, and you won't have any trouble with them fading, even on the roughest road.

When you choose the Track setting the stability control switches off. But if the car thinks that you are about to have a wobble and you're going over 60mph through a corner, it will switch itself back on.

So will Bond like it? I think so. It looks like an Aston. The new rear spoiler manages not to be naff and the trademark vents on the wings look cool.

As do the carbon mirrors and front spoilers.

India's Tata is already doing a good job with Jaguar and Land Rover. Hopefully, if Mahindra & Mahindra do buy Aston they'll be just as effective.

Focus on DB7's price: Page 72 THE RIVALS Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Very everything: fast, expensive, exciting, Italian and brilliant. PS250,000 Mercedes-Benz SLS Dramatic gullwing door coupe that packs a mighty 563bhp punch. PS168,425 Bentley Continental GT W12 Almost a bargain in this company but if you want to spend more and want more than 567bhp then wait for the new Speed model. PS136,710 THE FACTS Aston Martin Vanquish Price: PS189,995 Engine: 565bhp 0-62mph: 4.1sec Fuel consumption: 13.2mpg

the start Press and the button car explodes into action

CAPTION(S):

COCKPIT J World of leather

STYLISH J Rear spoiler is subtle

SUITS YOU Z Bond (Daniel Craig) in Skyfall with an Aston Martin DB9

DRAMATIC J The Vanquish
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 7, 2012
Words:770
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