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We got behind the wheel of Bond’s new motor before he did! RAY MASSEY tests Aston Martin’s £185,000 DB12 coupe

As launch venues go, the sophisticated hill-top hotel in the South of France was near pitch-perfect for starting my first drive of Aston Martin’s new 202mph DB12 coupe ahead of first customer deliveries later this summer.

Overlooking Monte Carlo and its famed Casino in the royal principality of Monaco; catching the cocktail-enticing sun of the Côte d’Azur as billionaires’ luxurious super-yachts bob around in the bay below; and just a short hop to cinematic Cannes and the twisting vertiginous cliff-side roads of Les Corniches skirting the blue Mediterranean, James Bond would have felt totally in his element – especially behind the wheel of the latest addition to the portfolio of his favourite British luxury performance car maker.

It’s a beauty. And arguably the best Aston Martin grand tourer ever, with scintillating performance and a dash of adventure matched with sophisticated manners. So whoever takes over the 007 role on the big screen will be a very happy secret agent.

There’s only one fly in the ointment for mere mortals like me and most motorists – the expected £185,000 price tag which will easily exceed £200,000 once a series of temping ‘extras’ are added.

Bond's new car put through its paces: Ray Massey has been to the South of France to test drive Aston Martin's new DB12 Super Tourer - the motor widely expected to be used by the new 007 Bond's new car put through its paces: Ray Massey has been to the South of France to test drive Aston Martin's new DB12 Super Tourer - the motor widely expected to be used by the new 007

Bond’s new car put through its paces: Ray Massey has been to the South of France to test drive Aston Martin’s new DB12 Super Tourer – the motor widely expected to be used by the new 007

It comes as Aston Martin celebrates two significant milestones in 2023 – its 110th anniversary and 75 years of the illustrious DB model line.

The new DB12 is clearly an evolutionary rather than revolutionary progression from its predecessor DB11, but is nevertheless a significant step forward, and perhaps the car it should have been all along. Aston Martin describes it more as a ‘super tourer’ than GT grand tourer.

Firing up the DB12, I noticed the first change. Out goes the push button gear selector. In comes a more traditional centre console lever.

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Powered by a mighty 680 horse-power 4.0 litre V8 twin turbo petrol engine that propels it from rest to 60mph in just 3.5 seconds (0 to 62mph in 3.6 seconds), up to a top speed of 202mph, owners such as Bond will have to be careful if they want to retain their licence to drive.

Heading out of the busy urban area – and making an intricate three-point turns when I took a wrong turn – it proved very easy to manoeuvre as well as being remarkably well mannered at very slow speeds through small towns and villages.

Out on the open road, what is noticeable is its rock-solid handling. It feels very connected, responsive, and planted.

Ray says this is arguably the best Aston Martin grand tourer ever, with scintillating performance and a dash of adventure matched with sophisticated manners Ray says this is arguably the best Aston Martin grand tourer ever, with scintillating performance and a dash of adventure matched with sophisticated manners

Ray says this is arguably the best Aston Martin grand tourer ever, with scintillating performance and a dash of adventure matched with sophisticated manners

Powered by a mighty 680 horsepower 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo petrol engine, the DB12 propels from rest to 62mph in just 3.6secs. With a  top speed of 202mph, owners - including Bond - will have to be careful if they want to retain their licence Powered by a mighty 680 horsepower 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo petrol engine, the DB12 propels from rest to 62mph in just 3.6secs. With a  top speed of 202mph, owners - including Bond - will have to be careful if they want to retain their licence

Powered by a mighty 680 horsepower 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo petrol engine, the DB12 propels from rest to 62mph in just 3.6secs. With a  top speed of 202mph, owners – including Bond – will have to be careful if they want to retain their licence

The new DB12 is clearly an evolutionary rather than revolutionary progression from its predecessor DB11, but is nevertheless a significant step forward, and perhaps the car it should have been all along The new DB12 is clearly an evolutionary rather than revolutionary progression from its predecessor DB11, but is nevertheless a significant step forward, and perhaps the car it should have been all along

The new DB12 is clearly an evolutionary rather than revolutionary progression from its predecessor DB11, but is nevertheless a significant step forward, and perhaps the car it should have been all along

The luxurious but contemporary interior cockpit has also been completely redesigned to exude modern opulence - combining clean design with classic craftsmanship and the finest materials to emphasise space and frame the new centre-piece hi-tech infotainment system The luxurious but contemporary interior cockpit has also been completely redesigned to exude modern opulence - combining clean design with classic craftsmanship and the finest materials to emphasise space and frame the new centre-piece hi-tech infotainment system

The luxurious but contemporary interior cockpit has also been completely redesigned to exude modern opulence – combining clean design with classic craftsmanship and the finest materials to emphasise space and frame the new centre-piece hi-tech infotainment system

Cruising on motorways it is long-legged and relaxing. But with bite.

Up in the hills on fast but winding roads it displayed exceptional grippiness. 

The steering is precise and confidence building. Acceleration is punchy and instant, but not neck-snapping. The firm says the DB12 promises the sharpest handling and dynamics ever on this series of DB cars. And I couldn’t deny it.

And with its long sleek lines, extended bonnet and bold grille, it’s a real head-turner.

Overall this two-door 2 plus 2 seater DB12 is exciting, elegant, comfortable and fun – perfect for crossing continents with a small soft-bag, a toothbrush and credit card.

A topless cabriolet Volante version expected to follow for an additional £30,000.

With its long sleek lines, extended bonnet and bold grille, there's no question that the Aston Martin DB12 is a real head-turner With its long sleek lines, extended bonnet and bold grille, there's no question that the Aston Martin DB12 is a real head-turner

With its long sleek lines, extended bonnet and bold grille, there’s no question that the Aston Martin DB12 is a real head-turner

As launch venues go, the sophisticated hill-top hotel in the South of France was near pitch-perfect for starting my first drive of Aston Martin¿s new 202mph DB12 coupe ahead of first customer deliveries later this summer As launch venues go, the sophisticated hill-top hotel in the South of France was near pitch-perfect for starting my first drive of Aston Martin¿s new 202mph DB12 coupe ahead of first customer deliveries later this summer

As launch venues go, the sophisticated hill-top hotel in the South of France was near pitch-perfect for starting my first drive of Aston Martin’s new 202mph DB12 coupe ahead of first customer deliveries later this summer

As you'd expect from a new Aston Martin, it won't be cheap. The expected £185,000 price tag will easily exceed £200,000 once a series of temping ¿extras¿ are added by customers As you'd expect from a new Aston Martin, it won't be cheap. The expected £185,000 price tag will easily exceed £200,000 once a series of temping ¿extras¿ are added by customers

As you’d expect from a new Aston Martin, it won’t be cheap. The expected £185,000 price tag will easily exceed £200,000 once a series of temping ‘extras’ are added by customers

Aston Martin says the new DB12 heralds ‘a new era’ for the firm as ‘as the first of its next generation sportscars’. 

It has a wider stance, aerodynamic profile and a muscular athletic physique that is designed to balance measured aggression and unrivalled elegance.

It also has practical pop-out door handles. 

Sitting proudly on its nose is the latest evolution of the iconic Aston Martin wings badge.

Will it fit in my garage? New Aston Martin DB12 

Price: from £185,000

Style: Grand Tourer (GT) dubbed a ‘super tourer’

Doors: Two

Seats: 2+2 seating

On sale: Now

First deliveries: late summer

Length: 4,725mm 

Width (inc mirrors): 2,145mm

Height: 1,295mm

Wheelbase: 2,805mm

Ground clearance: 120mm

Weight: 1,685kg

Engine: 4.0 litre V8 Twin Turbo petrol

Power: 680 horsepower/671bhp

Transmission: 8-speed automatic (with manual override)

Acceleration 0-62mph: 3.6 seconds

Top speed: 202mph

Wheels: 21-inch five spoke

Tyres: Bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport S 5

Brakes: Steel or carbon ceramic

Boot volume: 262 litres

Fuel tank: 78 litres

Turning circle: 12.4m

The DB12’s 4.0 V8 Twin-Turbo engine’s 680 horsepower (equivalent to nearly seven Ford Fiestas) is an increase of 34 per cent compared with the outgoing DB11. 

Power is fed through an eight-speed automatic transmission and, for the first time on an Aston Martin DB model, electronic rear differential (E-Diff) designed to give the driver maximum response for more precise and consistent handling, especially when cornering. And, judging by my drive, it succeeds.

My car was running on bespoke 21-inch Michelin Pilot 5S tyres, specially tuned by Aston Martin’s dynamics team to ensure the highest levels of reactivity for precision steering, together with maximum grip in wet and dry conditions. 

The alloys are 8kg lighter than previous 20 inch offerings and the tyres also feature noise-cancelling polyurethane foam inserts to reduces by 20 per cent any tyre ‘hum’ transmitted to the car’s interior.

There are five driving modes selected using a rotary controller on the dashboard: Wet; GT for agile cruising; Sport and Sport Plus for maximum responsiveness on challenging roads; and Individual to tune the car to your own preference. Predictably I was mainly in Sport and Sport Plus. Why would you not?

A new suspension system featuring intelligent adaptive dampers and electronic rear differential (E-diff) helps the more responsive ride.

For it’s vital stopping power, DB12 is fitted as standard with cast-iron 400mm front discs and 360mm rear discs but can be ordered with a carbon ceramic brake option offering increased braking performance.

Working seamlessly in the background, a new electronic stability programme (ESP) system with four selectable settings – Wet, On, Track & Off – uses six-axis inertia measurement and cutting edge algorithms to predicts to predict available grip and react to sudden momentary instabilities. Individual override buttons for the chassis, ESP and exhaust are also located on the centre console.

The luxurious but contemporary interior cockpit has also been completely redesigned to exude modern opulence – combining clean design with classic craftsmanship and the finest materials to emphasise space and frame the new centre-piece hi-tech infotainment system. 

Swathed in aromatic, hand-stitched Bridge of Weir hides, a new quilting pattern is applied to the full leather or Alcantara interior.

The car also has Aston Martin’s first infotainment system developed in-house which supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and uses a fully integrated multi-screen system using 10.25 inch high-resolution screens.

It retains traditional buttons for the key mechanical operations of gear selection, drive selection, heating and ventilation.

Ensuring the most used controls are always conveniently to hand, there are also override switches for chassis, ESP and exhaust, lane assist and park distance control.

The all-new navigation system has online connectivity for a smarter and quicker information, new 3D mapping, satellite view and real time traffic overlays.

Ray says the two-door 2 plus 2 seater DB12 is exciting, elegant, comfortable and fun - perfect for crossing continents with a small soft-bag, a toothbrush and credit card Ray says the two-door 2 plus 2 seater DB12 is exciting, elegant, comfortable and fun - perfect for crossing continents with a small soft-bag, a toothbrush and credit card

Ray says the two-door 2 plus 2 seater DB12 is exciting, elegant, comfortable and fun – perfect for crossing continents with a small soft-bag, a toothbrush and credit card

The DB12¿s 4.0 V8 Twin-Turbo engine¿s 680 horsepower (equivalent to nearly seven Ford Fiestas) is an increase of 34 per cent compared with the outgoing DB11 The DB12¿s 4.0 V8 Twin-Turbo engine¿s 680 horsepower (equivalent to nearly seven Ford Fiestas) is an increase of 34 per cent compared with the outgoing DB11

The DB12’s 4.0 V8 Twin-Turbo engine’s 680 horsepower (equivalent to nearly seven Ford Fiestas) is an increase of 34 per cent compared with the outgoing DB11

Swathed in aromatic, hand-stitched Bridge of Weir hides, a new quilting pattern is applied to the full leather or Alcantara interior Swathed in aromatic, hand-stitched Bridge of Weir hides, a new quilting pattern is applied to the full leather or Alcantara interior

Swathed in aromatic, hand-stitched Bridge of Weir hides, a new quilting pattern is applied to the full leather or Alcantara interior

The DB12 it is fitted as standard with the Aston Martin’s 390-watt 11-speaker audio system but with the choice of an optional Bowers & Wilkins double amplified 1,170W surround sound system with 15 high-performance loudspeakers.

Tempting but price-hiking extras include carbon-fibre trim, privacy glass and sports seats and a host of personlised additions from the bespoke ‘Q by Aston Martin’ arm.

A new Aston Martin app allows customers to communicate, interact and engage with their car which also features over the air updates and diagnostics via the internet. The app also offers a range of three ‘connected car subscription packages’ that are activated free for the first three-years but must be paid for after that.

The new DB12 is an important stepping-stone in Aston Martin and chairman Lawrence Stroll’s ambitious plans to quadruple profits and nearly double revenues within five years as its electric vehicle push steps up a gear. 

It is also set to be one of the last of the marque’s petrol-powered cars before the legendary British car-maker is forced, like the rest of the motor industry, to produce only electric cars.

In June Aston Martin struck a deal with US electric car firm Lucid to provide and develop new battery powertrains. Aston is aiming by 2028 for profits of £800million (up from £198million last year) and revenues of £2.5bn (up from £1.4bn). 

The company is set to launch its first fully electric car in 2025 and an electrified range by 2030. But vagueness around future sales volumes – last year it sold 6,400 and is predicting 7,000 this year – caused share prices to fall.

The new DB12 is an important stepping-stone in Aston Martin and chairman Lawrence Stroll¿s ambitious plans to quadruple profits and nearly double revenues within five years as its electric vehicle push steps up a gear The new DB12 is an important stepping-stone in Aston Martin and chairman Lawrence Stroll¿s ambitious plans to quadruple profits and nearly double revenues within five years as its electric vehicle push steps up a gear

The new DB12 is an important stepping-stone in Aston Martin and chairman Lawrence Stroll’s ambitious plans to quadruple profits and nearly double revenues within five years as its electric vehicle push steps up a gear

Unfortunately, DB12 is set to be one of the last of the marque¿s petrol-powered cars before the legendary British car maker is forced, like the rest of the motor industry, to produce only electric cars Unfortunately, DB12 is set to be one of the last of the marque¿s petrol-powered cars before the legendary British car maker is forced, like the rest of the motor industry, to produce only electric cars

Unfortunately, DB12 is set to be one of the last of the marque’s petrol-powered cars before the legendary British car maker is forced, like the rest of the motor industry, to produce only electric cars

'It¿s no slouch in a straight line, but you need nerves of steel when cornering and to plan a long way ahead for braking. Driving the new DB12 is simply in another league,' says Ray 'It¿s no slouch in a straight line, but you need nerves of steel when cornering and to plan a long way ahead for braking. Driving the new DB12 is simply in another league,' says Ray

‘It’s no slouch in a straight line, but you need nerves of steel when cornering and to plan a long way ahead for braking. Driving the new DB12 is simply in another league,’ says Ray

Aston Martin was founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford and is now based in Gaydon, Warwickshire which builds sports cars, with a factory in St Athan, Wales building performance SUVs and exporting cars to 56 countries around the world.

I was driving the DB12 as makers of the Bond movies seek a new 007 to replace Daniel Craig for the next film, in which the new car is also likely to on-screen, with Aaron Taylor Johnson (of Kick Ass and Nowhere Boy), Grantchester and Happy Valley star James Norton, former Superman and man from Uncle star Henry Cavill, Richard Madden and Tom Hardy among the favourites.

I have driven a continuation model of Aston Martin’s original and iconic big screen 007 DB5 Goldfinger car – complete with gadgets. 

It’s no slouch in a straight line, but you need nerves of steel when cornering and to plan a long way ahead for braking. Driving the new DB12 is simply in another league.

Come the next 007 movie, if this car is in it, Bond won’t be shaken, but he certainly be stirred. I just wonder how they will fit in the ejector seat and machine guns.

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