Fuelled by Bond-mania, Sudhish Kamath gets behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, the car that 007 has been driving for half a century now
When someone asks: Would you like to test drive the Aston Martin for the James Bond experience, how can you say no? If I did, I would have had to get my head checked by a Doctor, No?
I happen to be in Mumbai on assignment on invitation from the Mumbai Film Festival. But waking up on an October morning, I feel like I was there On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Suiting up, I take a cab to the showroom on Altamount Road at 7.30 a.m. to find sales manager, Sandeep Gupta waiting for me.
He takes a photocopy of my driving licence. My Licence To Kill for the day.
You don’t need to know driving to play with this baby, I soon find out as Sandeep puts the registration plate on the Vantage V8 and drives us towards the Worli-Bandra Sea Link in this gorgeous white two-door luxury sports car.
Who said only Diamonds Are Forever?
Tell that girl that the only one who can truly say “The Spy Who Loved Me…” is the Aston Martin that Bond has been driving for 50 years now.
James Bond has driven Aston Martin cars in at least eight out of the 23 films. The DB5 will make its sixth appearance in Skyfall after Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and Casino Royale, the DB5 was seen in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and the Vantage V8 marked the return of the car to the franchise after two decades in The Living Daylights.
The Vantage V8 is an entry-level car in India, owned by barely a dozen in a country of 1.1 billion.
I am told that the Aston Martin Vantage costs Rs. 2 crore, the DB9 (an update of the classic DB5 from the Bond movies is priced at Rs. 2.75 crore — the DB5 being a vintage car isn’t manufactured anymore), the Rapide at Rs. 3.20 crore and the top end Vanquish costs Rs. 3.85 crore. Having got my driving licence just last year, the most expensive car I have ever got to drive was a Fiat Linea.
And this baby here was an automatic.
No clutch. Keep your left leg on the brake, use your index finger to turn the car on, take your leg off the brake, accelerate with your right leg. And the car moves. All you need to do is steer. Congratulations, you just learned to drive an Aston Martin.
Before I know it, I’m cruising down the beautiful stretch of the majestic Sea Link as time disappears with the roar of the V8 engine as Sandeep hits the sport button. Now, that’s top gear — and suddenly, this wild beast seems to be on steroids as 70 kmph speed turns to 140 kmph in no time. But inside this Thunderball, it still feels like you’re driving at 50, fully in control. In less than four minutes, we have covered one of the most iconic landmarks in the country — the entire 5.6 kilometre stretch.
Basically, just enough time for Sandeep to take six pictures of our drive on a rather slow mobile phone.
So I take a return ticket at the toll gate as Sandeep tells me why he prefers this car to the Porsche. The Aston Martin’s GoldenEye for detail — he loves the design, especially the paddle gears for those who prefer the manual mode.
As the saying goes, You Only Live Twice. So I might as well make the most of the second cruise down the bridge. I make my way back from Bandra towards the glorious Mumbai skyline. It’s a view to die for. Rather a view to kill for.
I test it for speed again as Sandeep rolls down the windows so that I can hear the sound that could scare The Living Daylights out of cars we raced past. Live and Let Die, folks. Or Die Another Day, after you’ve driven one yourself.
The 12 km ride up and down would have set us back by at least two litres of fuel. But then, who buys an Aston Martin for mileage?
I have no heart to get out of the car. And unless you are born with a Goldfinger or win big at Casino Royale or some rich uncle gifts it to you From Russia With Love, it’s strictly For Your Eyes Only. No touching, only seeing.
For now, I will take a Quantum Of Solace in the fact that I can afford Bond’s transport from Octopussy. The autorickshaw. Or just call my motorcycle Moonraker.
Sigh! The World Is Not Enough.
Keywords: James Bond experience