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UK:On the road with bond's new stars;Aston Martin DBS and Ford Mondeo

Aston Martin DBS and Ford Mondeo
On the road with bond's new stars
We exclusively gain access to both of James Bond's new cars: the Aston Martin DBS and Ford Mondeo

By Ken Gibson

Our man takes wheel of DBS and Mondeo from the new Bond film, Casino Royale

Set to star in the eagerly awaited film Casino Royale - which opens across the UK this week - the models will leave cinema-going car fans shaken and stirred. What's more, we're the only magazine in the world to get close to the pair ahead of the movie... as neither machine goes on sale in showrooms until next year!

Based on the Aston DB9, the DBS is tipped as a rival to Ferrari's mighty new 599 GTB - but in true Q-branch fashion, that's only the start. Beef¬*ing up the DB9's elegant styling, the DBS gets some meaty bonnet air intakes, extended side sills and a new front splitter. And it's just as stunning inside, with exquisite dash dials and a beauti¬*ful blend of leather, Alcan¬*tara suede and piano black wood trim.

With only actor Daniel Craig and a 007 stunt driver having previously sat in the DBS's hand-made carbon fibre and leather seats, we're certainly in a privileged position - so we felt the need to dress appropriately, hence the black tie!

There may be no rocket launchers, machine guns or other Bond gadgets here, but the DBS doesn't need any. This car gets by on sheer power - something which is obvious when you thumb the glowing red starter button. The 500bhp 6.0-litre V12 roars into life, shattering the silence at Aston's secret test track. Performance is incredible; the DBS blasts from 0-60mph in only four seconds and doesn't stop accelerating until 200mph.

But it's the sound which makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck - a deep eruption that seems to shake the earth beneath you. Changing gears adds to the drama, the lever glowing red every time you shift ratios. Despite the car's size, the lowered, stiffened suspension gives it the agility of 007, spearing into bends like a locked-on missile.

We didn't push too hard, though - our Aston was one of two used for close-ups in the movie, and is due at the UK premiere at London's Leicester Square. The DBS is on sale in 2007, priced around £150,000. Aston expects to sell only 300 annually worldwide, so it's sure to be a rare sight.

Yet that probably won't be the case with Bond's other company vehicle: the new Mondeo. It's set to be the UK's best-selling family car when it arrives next year in saloon, hatch and estate form. And with a starring role in Casino Royale, its image will be sky high! This Tonic Blue five-door takes pride of place in the opening sequence with Craig at the wheel in the Bahamas.

It was hand-built by Ford of Europe's design studio in Germany especially for the film, and features extra spoilers and chrome trim. The car previews the forth-coming ST version, which is likely to be powered by a 3.2-litre straight-six turbo.

Most models will get 1.8 and 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines, while other petrol variants will also be available. The production car debuts at March's Geneva Motor Show ahead of its summer launch. Prices start at £16,000.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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