The Apple of modern cars

Long before Apple Macintosh created the iPod, Macs were the undisputed preferred computers over the run-of-the-mill IBMs and Dells, especially for those in the publishing industry.

Apples have always been simpler, more powerful, more beautiful and obviously more expensive, so the company has never held a significant slice of the PC pie. But it did make Macs the most coveted of computers.

Apple recently ran an ad campaign in the United Kingdom personifying a PC and a Mac. It was uncanny the way the two guys looked like younger versions of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, which is to say one looked like a dour accountant (Gates) and the other a handsome rock star (Jobs).

With the advent of everything from the iPod to the iPhone, Apple has never been more fashionable. But the company hasn’t neglected its core business and continues to make exceptional computers, much the way Aston Martin, despite the many changes in ownership, continues to make exceptional vehicles.

Sure, Astons are expensive and they’re not always the fastest cars out there, but they are certainly the most beautiful, the most powerful and they evoke the most emotion.

Start up the DBS and it sounds like a master guitarist playing Stairway to Heaven. It gives you goosebumps. You know the beast you’ve stirred isn’t going to take kindly to anything but spirited driving and that requires a fair amount of bravery.

I’ve driven enough Astons to know that I can’t be nervous, that I need to drive them the way I would drive any other car: with respect and, most importantly, a sense of adventure.

But driving a car worth close to R4-million did illustrate how daft many South African motorists are. Those idiots who skip in front of you without indicating, the twerps who drift from one lane to another while on their cellphones or the schmucks filming the Aston you’re in who don’t realise they’re too close to the car — they are hazards that give you arrhythmia.

Thankfully the DBS with its menacing 6,0-litre V12 is the sports version of the grand tourer DB9, so the 380kW of power and 570Nm allow you to leave those dangerous drivers far behind when you put a little pressure on the accelerator.

When I arrived at the Aston Martin dealership in Sandton I was handed the DBS’s Swarovski crystal key, given a quick briefing as to how it works and, as always, was instructed to have some fun, which is exactly what I did.

The interior is exquisite. The hand-stitched leather and suede complement each other to make a powerful vehicle look elegant.

A welcome interior feature is the six-speed manual gearshifter, not only because it’s such a rare treat to have a manual box in a V12-engined car but because it fits snugly in your palm and enables those snap-changes to work even better.

Weirdly, though, the rev counter doesn’t have a red zone and often enough I would get to 7000rpm only to have the engine tell me in an impolite tone that I needed to change gears quickly. The imaginary “redline” wasn’t consistent — from first to second gear I would have to change at about 6 500rpm, but from second to third and so on the DBS allowed me to go to 7 000rpm, and even 7 500rpm. It felt a little hit-and-miss, so I decided that changing gears at 6 500rpm would be best and it turned out to be just fine.

I don’t think I sprinted from 0-100kph in 4,3s as the DBS normally would and I didn’t get close to its top speed of 302kph, but when I did find an open road I let rip and there are few things that feel as good as a car that is as fast and stable as the DBS.

It does everything a sports grand tourer should: it accelerates like a fighter jet, bites into the tar when you chuck it into a corner and after making the planet rotate a little faster it settles down smoothly into cruise mode.

I didn’t fiddle with the Bluetooth or the satnav or even the radio, so I can’t tell you how well the equipment works, but safety wise, the DBS has everything (I won’t bother with the details because we would quickly run out of space).

As for interior and exterior fit and finishings, it’s practically faultless. I say practically because there was the occasional squeak, which I was told was because the DBS I was driving was a press test unit that had been thrown around a fair number of racetracks and was due to be serviced.

I hope that’s true because I don’t think anyone forking out that much moolla is going to be happy hearing anything other than the meaty growl of an engine begging to be unleashed.

Ultimately, people who have worked on Macs and PCs will tell you that PCs are more compatible with most of the software created by IT companies across the globe, but they will also grudgingly admit that Macs are the preferred choice, if only because they get the job done effortlessly.

The DBS is undoubtedly a supercar, but there are faster supercars out there, some of which are even slightly better than the DBS. However, much like Macs, Aston Martins are all about power, beauty and soul and I don’t think I’ve ever come across a car that embodies those virtues as perfectly as the DBS does.

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