One hundred and sixty thousand pounds can buy you many things. In London, it'll get you a tiny flat in zone five. Up North, we hear it can purchase four or five medium-sized hotels and a team of staff to run them. Or it could land you one of the finest pieces of automotive engineering ever conceived -- the ultimate gadget -- the Aston Martin DBS.
We'd seen this car countless times in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, so when taking delivery, we thought we knew what to expect. We thought we'd slide coolly into the driver's seat, do eight burnouts and cruise noisily into the distance, picking up women dressed in ballgowns as we went. But nothing prepares you for the moment a DBS rolls off its transport vehicle on to your street and a be-suited Aston Martin representative puts the keys in your hand. You'll have a little crisis.
The car is indescribably beautiful and not even these shots, nor our forthcoming video, do it justice. Everywhere it travels, the DBS causes passers-by to engage you in conversation, children to take photos on their mobile phones, and grownups of every gender and sexual preference to lust after you. Unless you're previously , it's all a little overwhelming. As we pulled away in the DBS for the first time, palms sweating, hearts racing and a dozen eyes trained in our direction, only one thing occupied our thoughts: this is James Bond's car. Don't stall it.
Stalling is a serious issue, given how difficult it is to fire up the DBS. Its labyrinthine start-up process involves inserting the 'Emotion Control Unit' -- a sculpted piece of stainless steel, capped by scratch-resistant sapphire -- into a motorised docking station on the dashboard. As if this weren't elaborate enough, you then have to wait a few seconds while the car's computers perform a 'system check', and for the readout between the speedometer and rev counter to display Aston Martin's 'Power, Beauty, Soul' doctrine.
The entire process takes around ten seconds, which is ten seconds too long if you've accidentally stalled at a set of traffic lights and you're being being watched by a crowd. What exactly was wrong with using a key?
More frustration can be found when using the DBS' entertainment and information systems. The satellite navigation in particular is infuriating beyond words and will leave you hopelessly lost. Its main problem -- and it has several -- is the fact it will only accept the first four digits of any UK postcode, so the car will only take you to the approximate area you're trying to visit.
You can fine-tune the navigation by entering a street name, but some streets (such as our own office address) aren't even in the system's database. This means you'll need to choose randomly from a list of others within an approximate one-mile radius then ask for directions from a passer-by, who'll look at your fancy dashboard like you're stupid. If you're the type of person that relies heavily on sat-navs, we suggest you buy a TomTom.
One of our favourite aspects of the DBS' in-car entertainment is the high-end Bang & Olufsen Beosound DBS audio system. Comprising 13 separate speakers, its most impressive components are a punchy 20cm (8-inch) subwoofer underneath the rear bench, and the near-legendary Beosound acoustic lenses on the dashboard. Hit the audio system's power button and these motorised tweeters rise elegantly from the dashboard in a manner Q himself would be proud of. It's a blatant gimmick -- Bang & Olufsen could save us all a few thousand pounds by eliminating the twin-motor mechanism and leaving the speakers permanently exposed -- but nothing beats this for coolness.