Bentley GT Speed W12 or Aston Vantage V12 – you choose


So, here’s the thing. I have an Aston Martin Vantage S V12 parked outside Car Couture Towers – with the Bentley GT Speed next to it. Which one would you choose?

I love the passion, drama and craziness of the Aston. It’s obviously lighter, more agile and exhilarating than the Bentley, which is such a large amount of metal, it’s best experienced in a straight line. And wow, does it shift.

But the Aston is beautifully flawed, thanks to the latest Speedshift auto gearbox. Aston would tell you that it is more ‘driver focussed’ – ie designed to be at its best at speed. But quite frankly, it sucks.

There’s such a lag as it flicks up a gear that you are physically pushed forward through each cog of the seven-speed box. It’s uncomfortable and tiresome.

This doesn’t happen rivals supercars, which usually have a double clutch system and are super smooth. The Bentley change is seamless, as is the Porsche 911, Audi R8 etc

So, while I would always choose the Vantage over the big, bad Bentley (heart rules over head), it could be so, so better…

  • Car Couture is off to Switzerland for the annual hols – we’re back from the grand tour on August 21



Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Edition – Flawed Beauty That Still Makes The Heart Beat Faster


aston8My dream woman would be a beautiful redhead with a scar on her cheek. A psychologist would have a field day with that admission but I like the idea of flawed beauty.

The DB9 is a visual feast both inside and out. Just the name Aston Martin reeks of style, passion and sophistication. Yet like my redhead, or any Maserati for that matter, the flaws are hidden deep under the skin.

Have I enjoyed driving a car more than the DB9 this year? Probably not but don’t be fooled into thinking this is the ultimate supercar. It isn’t.

Suspect brakes, limited legroom in the cabin, door handles that disappear in the dark and a tiny boot – shall I go on?

Perhaps none of these on their own are enough to dissuade a potential buyer but after a week in the Aston, my dream car had become a little scarred around the edges…

Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Black – The Ups And Downs Of Owning A Supercar


Wednesday and it’s another rain-lashed morning in Blighty – not the best of weather to hurl a 500bhp, rear-wheel drive supercar around a corner. Having discovered the DB9 is somewhat ‘tail happy’ I’ve compiled a list of other minor irritants that they don’t tell you about in the sale brochure.

Firstly, if you are a lady (or a bloke!) with long nails, inserting the glass key into the dashboard can chip at least two of them in one go. Actually, just getting in to the Aston at night can be awkward because unless you blip the key (for illumination) the flush handles are completely hidden in the door. This results in a lot of embarrassing fumbling around to find them – which makes your hands filthy too. Never saw Bond do that did you!

I’m 5ft 10ins and I can’t stretch my legs out in the front passenger seat. Normally this can be rectified by reclining the back upright but in the DB9, it hits the rear seat almost instantly. So if you are 6ft plus, I’d want to be sure I could get comfortably before opening my wallet.

FInally, the boot is tiny. The rear seats are pointless too – unless you have a small dog or baby.

On the plus side, Aston include a free umbrella and a near, chrome-topped pen that pops out of the dashboard. There, now you know…

Aston Martin DB9 Carbon – Exhaust Note Rattle To Make Your Toes Curl…


I’m not sure there’s a more beautiful noise than a DB9 accelerating in ‘sport’ mode. Unlike some other supercars, it only roars when required and the rattle from the exhaust pipes will make your toes curl.

The surge in performance in sport is noticeable. The revs pick up and the Aston suddenly becomes alive. Very handy for overtaking too.

Unlike the more compact Porsche 911, the DB9 doesn’t feel as stable on the road, especially when cornering. Blip the throttle too soon on a roundabout and that tail end will wobble.

It’s easily rectified of course, but I know I could blat around a bend faster in a Porsche, or the Nissan GT-R of course. Fortunately, the Aston Martin isn’t just about speed. It’s a thing of true beauty…


Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Edition – Brake Fade Spoils The Fun In Bond Supercar…



Let me tell you – it doesn’t matter whether I’m driving a Rolls-Royce or a Ferrari there is always a niggle to be found.

I love Aston Martins but guess what? Even this special edition Carbon is slightly flawed. And it’s an issue you would probably never discover until you had paid £140k and bought the car.


Brake fade.

Our test car has under 13,000 miles on the clock but screaming in towards a roundabout yesterday I was alarmed at the lack of response from the 400mm diameter carbon ceramic discs.

Just to be sure it wasn’t my imagination, I tried braking in a straight line and found the problem just as bad. Compared to the Nissan GT-R we tested last week, the Aston’s stopping power was almost embarrassing.

Now, it might be that our DB9 was in need of a new set of discs but somehow I doubt it – every press car is checked over before it is sent out each week.

At least now we know now why Bond is always wrecking Astons – and never chased by a Nissan GT-R…




Aston Martin DB9 Carbon – Is It Worth The Sum Of Its Extra Parts?



Any colour you like, as long as it’s black, or possibly white… The Carbon Edition was launched at Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. There are no upgrades to the V12 engine and looking at it parked on the driveway now, I’m hard pushed to spot the cosmetic changes too.

The extra £6k on the price of a standard DB9 buys you a special edition with some carbon fibre side strakes and black window surrounds, plus a ‘Carbon’ logo on the sill covers as you step in. The interior is suitably black and that’s about it!

I’m wondering if that’s why it took a lot of Googling to find out exactly how much of a premium the Carbon edition demands? The official Aston site says ‘price on application’ and in the end I had to inquire at the press office.

‘Style and visual drama are the special edition’s hallmarks as they perfectly emphasis the timeless GT’s sporting nature’ says the PR fluff.

I’m sure they’re right but the DB9 is a visual stunner already. I’m not sure yet that I would pay the extra for a Carbon Edition…

Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Edition – On Test From Tomorrow


You might think that after a week with a Japanese supercar of epic proportions it might have tempered my desire for a British car. Not a bit of it. I wear a worn out Belstaff jacket that dates from the 1960s, love classic British motorcycles and drive a 1972 Land Rover.

The point is that despite living in France, Ireland and Australia, I’ve never been able to shake off my British roots. I tried hard at one point but now I love it here and our great British design icons too.

Top of the automotive pile are Aston Martin, Jaguar and Range Rover. If you want the whole package – style, heritage, quality and performance, these are the motors that do it to me.

The DB9 Carbon Edition arrives tomorrow and with frost on the ground this morning it already feels like Christmas Eve. Excited? Yes, who wouldn’t be. The only thing I don’t know right now is whether it will be Carbon Black, or white…