- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Why would someone want a car that is hand-built, has 12 cylinders, 435 horsepower, seating for four, unsurpassed ride, superb handling, massive brakes and a top speed in excess of 180 mph? Why would that person want to spend $150,000 or more to own such a car? The answer: He drove it!

OK, I know very few readers have the wherewithal or self-imposed need to purchase one of these cars, but here is what you’re missing.

If you get the chance to drive an Aston Martin, particularly the DB7 GTA, don’t let it go. You will be very impressed, and probably tempted to take out a second mortgage on your house.

Enter the DB7 and your senses are treated to the singularly inviting aroma of Bridge of Weir leather and the warmness of black oak veneers that trim just the right amount of surface.

The British know how to put wood in cars so that it doesn’t look like plastic or cheesy photographs of wood grain, by the way. Buyers can choose their own veneers from a list that include burr oak, burr elm or maple.

The seats are absolutely first-rate. They are beautifully upholstered and have extended shoulder and lateral bolsters that provide plenty of support during cornering.

These seats are so comfortable that you want to take them out and put them in your media room. Instrumentation and all other interior amenities are of equally high caliber.

All that beauty surrounds a driving experience that just can’t be exaggerated. Under the hood is a 5.9-liter, 48-valve V-12 engine that ever-so-smoothly puts out 435 horsepower and 410 foot-pounds of torque, more than enough to launch the 2-ton car from 0-60 with the best of them.

Your ears are treated to a throaty-but-mellow exhaust note that lets everyone know that 12 cylinders are firing.

The test car was fitted with a six-speed manual transmission with the smoothest shifter I’ve experienced in a very long time.

The clutch is very firm, something you either like or not.

A sophisticated Touchtronic transmission is available for those wishing for automatic shifting. It operates in three modes: sport, sequential manual and full automatic.

I was expecting a harsh ride after noticing the 18-inch wheels and 245/30 tires. Low-profile tires (and these are super-low-profile) typically ride as if there’s a rubber band stretched over the wheel.

Not in this case. Somehow the Aston Martin engineers managed to design a suspension system that gives an extremely smooth ride while extracting all the handling prowess available from the wheels and tires. It’s a little like being in a Buick that drives like a Ferrari.

The Aston Martin’s brakes are big, four-piston discs that bring the car down from prodigious speeds as safely and quickly as anything you would want. That, and all the rest of its features make the DB7 a true GT car.

The term “GT” has been bandied-about for so many years that it doesn’t mean anything to the majority of the population.

To clarify, “Grand Tourer” (GT) is the term originally intended for long-distance versions of high-performance sports cars.

These were vehicles that offered exhilarating performance, comfort and luxurious appointments to those who demanded everything wrapped up in a single car.

Aston Martin is a company famous for its grand touring cars dating back to its DB4, introduced in 1959, and everyone is familiar with the DB5 from the James Bond movie “Goldfinger.”

The DB7, like Mr. Bond’s vodka martinis, leaves you stirred, not shaken.


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