Cigar Aficionado

When the James Bond franchise was reborn, with Daniel Craig in the lead, it restored a fresh mix of refinement and grit to what had become, over the years, little more than a parody of the classic spy genre. So it's fitting that 007's favorite set of wheels would be reinvented in much the same manner. In a year of transition, Aston Martin was sold off by its American parent, Ford Motor Co., to a consortium combining Aston's former race team owner and a team of Kuwaiti investors. Though the sale will influence future product, it had no direct impact on the development of the new flagship sports car, the DBS. Aston's racing program has, however.

The replacement for the long-lived (maybe too long) Vanquish, DBS has the menacing charm Craig brings to Bond. Brawny yet elegant, it mates the DB9 sports car with Aston's DBR9 track car. Where the former is a classic grand tourer, quick yet relaxed, the DBS is hard-edged, demanding attention, especially when it reveals its racing credentials.

Aston engineers have put a premium on weight reduction—DBS is 143 pounds lighter than a comparable DB9—using a unique bonded and riveted aluminum structure and a mix of aluminum and carbon-fiber body panels. The body is a bit wider, allowing for a broader track, and it sits lower than the 9, despite 20-inch bespoke Pirelli P Zero tires.

The beating heart of this beast is its 6.0-liter V-12. Derived from the DB9 engine, it's been pumped up to deliver a solid 510 horsepower, an increase of almost 15 percent. Torque, meanwhile, is an impressive 420 pound-feet, more than enough to get the DBS off the line fast: from 0 to 60 in a blistering 4.3 seconds. Top speed is equally impressive at 191 mph. Like the more—can we call it?—mundane DB9, the new sports car features an automatic exhaust bypass that, under hard acceleration, yawns wide to emit an absolutely primal roar. In a car like this, performance is about more than brute power, and the DBS features Aston's first-ever use of carbon-ceramic brakes, here supplied by Brembo. Bilstein provides the adaptive dampers, which automatically switch between five settings that range from soft to track, two of which (comfort and track), the driver can select manually.

As with its less excessive sibling, the DBS brings the creature comforts you'd expect of an Aston, with a leather-lavished interior that's hard not to love. Unlike the DB9, which is almost too easy to drive, the DBS has a twitchiness that resembles Craig's 007. If you want to challenge it, you better be ready to go all in.