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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Road test: 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Is the 'super-light' super-GT the best of both worlds or an awkward middle ground?

Although business should be an entirely separate entity to the unadulterated joy of driving cars, in many ways Aston Martin going public last month tells you all you need to know about the professional nature of the company in the 21st century.

While there have been movie-star models and special sports cars aplenty in the past, Aston Martin’s second-century plan is operating on rather firmer ground than what came before it – typified by a duo of world-beaters that opened its strategy to launch a car annually for the next seven years.

Following Aston’s great grand-­tourer, the DB11, and the rocket-fast two-seater Vantage, the DBS Superleggera is the third car out of the blocks – the next will be rather different as the DBX becomes the British brand’s first foray into the world of SUVs, expected to arrive at some point next summer.

So not only is the DBS Superleggera – that’s “superlight”, to save you digging out an Italian dictionary – the last new car in Aston’s illustrious sports-car lineage for a while, but it also has some history to emulate, reviving two badges that have featured prominently in Aston’s past.

Its exterior is very much in the family of its modern siblings, however, with its placement squarely between the DB11 and the Vantage in terms of driving intent also being mirrored by the styling cues – it’s more rugged than the former, yet not quite as out-and-out wild as the latter.

The gaping front grille demands attention, while the rear diffuser clearly means business, albeit not quite as in-your-face as the version that blesses the back of the Vantage.

As a self-styled “super-GT”, it follows that the DBS has some vital statistics that will make any ­petrolhead’s eyes light up: its 5.2-litre, twin-turbo V12 engine pumps out a fairly mega 725hp and 900Nm of torque. It picks up like nothing can phase it, whether demolishing the 0-to-100kph dash in 3.4 seconds or speeding through mid-range gears without scarcely a care or detectable effort.

And I’m lucky enough to have the perfect road to test out its impact – if not quite reach the top speed of 340kph – on the uphill turns of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain. Not once, but twice. Yep, it’s that much fun that you will want to press repeat on the time that you’re behind the wheel.

A carbon-fibre body is chief among the super-light elements of its (translated) moniker, on my test car complete with a cursive rendition of “Superleggera” on the bonnet, while it’s all anchored to the road by the most downforce ever available on a full production Aston.

My only criticism is when it comes to the interior, with the standard Aston infotainment and central dash area the only marginally dated part of the car. Not that you will be gawping at that too much, because the real views are out of the front windscreen, as the DBS snacks on the road as if it’s never going to stop being hungry. And neither, frankly, will you.

For my money – admittedly, ­probably not quite enough to afford the million-dirham sticker price – the DBS is the best of the three second-century Astons, although the V8 ­version of the DB11 does push it close. It’s the best of both worlds, rather than an awkward middle ground. As the carmaker itself refers to the DBS Superleggera, it’s a brute in a suit.

And for me personally, as a Brit who becomes more and more ashamed of Brexit as its implementation looms ever nearer, it’s nice to have something right now to inspire a groundswell of national pride. Tally-ho.

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