Fifty years after Aston Martin released James Bond's most iconic ride, the 2013 DB9 arrives with a finely tuned license to thrill.
What it is:A hand-built supercar that delivers both crazy performance and classic elegance. It's a powerful beast but not a wild one—the DB is still a grand tourer that handles effortlessly.
Who it's for:The type of high-end consumer who values Savile Row over sharkskin. As with purchasing a suit, when you're spending top dollar for a bespoke item, you don't want a garish, shiny model. Make no mistake: Gearheads and speed freaks will flip for this car, but the elegant styling of the DB makes it free of any d-baggery.
Backstory: The DB became an instant fetish item in 1964's Goldfinger, when Sean Connery drove his (admittedly modified) 1963 DB5, which made a cameo last year in Skyfall. The first DB9 arrived in 2004; this year's version is the most powerful, design-forward, and unabashedly luxurious DB9 ever produced.
What's new:At first glance, it may not look like much has changed, but this DB9 is far lighter, faster, and sexier than its predecessors—and 70 percent of its elements have been redesigned. Its six-liter V12 has been given "big wing" intake manifold design, it puts out a stunning 517 hp, and it reaches a top speed of 183 mph—numbers that are all but unheard of for luxury cars.
The handmade tale:No assembly lines were used in the making of this dream car. Each vehicle has seven coats of paint that are applied by hand, and each seat is made from 54 pieces of hand-stitched leather. Woodwork, metalwork, rivets—all done, yes, by hand in painstaking bespoke fashion. Apart from the aerospace-grade epoxy resin on the body (which is applied by a robot nicknamed James Bonder), this is an entirely man-made wonder.
Futuristic gadgets:The new model is decked out with 007-worthy features. Aston Martin codesigned a Transponder watch with Jaeger-LeCoultre that allows you to lock or unlock the car simply by pressing the sapphire crystal, and each car has a chrome Lamy pen that ejects from the center console.
How it handles:Most people may be reluctant to admit it, but they're scared of driving super-powerful low-riding Italian sports cars. This six-speed ride has both a normal mode for street driving and a track mode—a lifesaver every time you pull into a winding driveway in the Hills or make the haul out to the Hamptons.
Starting at $185,400; astonmartin.com
—Alex Bhattacharji, executive editor at Details
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