Blasting along a quiet road early in the morning with a great soundtrack on the stereo has to be one of my favourite pastimes. Doing it from behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB9 takes this oddly serene experience to a whole new level. I challenge you not to smile whilst sliding along an empty road with a glorious British supercar howling away around you. But this is nothing new. For generations, people have loved Aston Martins. Mr A and Mr M will always be a much admired moniker, in the same way as Mr Harley and Mr Davidson hold such a grip on people's heart strings. From the glory days of the DB5s and 6s, through the decidedly dodgy 1980s and the notorious unreliable '90s, people seem to be able to carry on loving one of England's greatest motoring brands.
Given some of the major mistakes the brand has made over the years, it is a testament to the pure adoration of the marque and the power of the famous winged badge. In more recent times, operating under both Ford and now its own steam, Aston has upped its game and brought out a string of cars worthy of the name and the hefty price tag. The V8 Vantage was a masterstroke, bringing the Aston Martin name to a wider audience, and the DBS proved good enough for Mr Bond and tempted supercar buyers across the world. But within the lineup, the DB9 probably suits more people, more often.
The V12-powered DB9 is without a doubt one of the most achingly beautiful cars that has ever been designed. From the sculptured nose to the rounded rear, this is a car that you simply never get tired of looking at. It is not as fat as the DBS, but easily more elegant than the V8. In my mind at least, this is the most pure Aston on the market for many years. I actually found myself pulling up a chair in my carport and enjoying a morning coffee and the Ian Callum-penned lines of the big Aston. Bear in mind, it was already around 35°C outside despite being fairly early in the morning. That's the strength of the amazing design.
Snuggled down in the cosy and opulent interior you start to get an idea of where the Aston love potion comes from. It really does feel special, as well as being remarkably comfortable. Where the DB9 does well is at low speed, where it's easy to drive and simple to manouvere. Not many supercars, save perhaps the Ferrari 599, can make that claim. Try parking a Lamborghini Murcielago in Spinneys. I have, and it's not such a simple process. After a few days in the Aston, you just drive it and slot it in where it needs to go. All very civilised at this end of the market.
Behind the driver, the rear seats are frankly pointless, but I won't get into that old argument about 2+2 coupes and their leprechaun rear legroom again. Just rip them out and put somewhere for that extra luggage or a set of golf clubs. The metallic dials dominate the dash and the signature ski slope centre console separates you neatly from your passenger. This is a car you sit in, rather than on. Luckily, Aston has moved on from the infamous Mondeo keys supplied with some of their previous models.
You now get a strange cubist glass thingy that you press into the centre of the start switch to stir the V12 into life. A great idea in principle, although it's a little heavy for the suit trousers and slacks most owners will probably be wearing. Perhaps Aston owners have someone to look after the key for them? Under the bonnet, the immense engine throbs quietly to itself until you start to dance on the power pedal. When you do decide to "get on it", there's the usual wait that accompanies all big cylinder supercar engines. In the same way as the Lamborghini Murcielago, the DB9 isn't instant. It seems to wait a little before it gets into the ideal torque range before releasing all of its 469 hp to the rear wheels. Although the lazy V12 is annoying for sudden blasts, it's magnificent when given the room to play and will leave most other road clutter for dead given the chance.
That's really the trick. Keep it above 4,000 rpm and pick your line through the bends in advance. In return, you'll find yourself delivered out the other side in a blink and all without upsetting the ambience of the carefully prepared interior. Switching off the traction control brings a whole new dimension to the driving experience. Although the car continues to grip the road, you know there isn't a computer waiting to step in and save you when your skill/ego graph falls over. It is a sobering thought that this car costs the same as a large apartment in the UAE.
Oddly, the DB9's natural opposition is very diverse. Aston has always said their cars have to compete with luxury yachts and beach houses, but in the real world the only real rival is Bentley and Ferrari. The V12 Lamborghini is the polar opposite of the DB9, whilst the 599 Ferrari is technically far superior. However, your average Aston owner probably loves the brand regardless and traditionally won't buy a highly-strung Ferrari. So that just leaves the Bentley GT.
When all is said and done, the DB9 is automotive art of the highest level. Underneath it has its limitations, but that hardly seems to matter. At this level, cars are bought with the heart, not the head. And the DB9 is very good at taking care of that particular human trait. If you are weak-willed and deep of pocket, don't walk past an Aston showroom and expect to complete your journey empty-handed. Even Cupid drives a DB9. email@example.com