The Aston Martin DBS is a strange kind of supercar flagship. On paper it’s slower and less powerful than the Vanquish S of old, and it’s clearly a development of the DB9. After so many bold statements from Aston in recent years, it looks like something of a pulled punch. Or maybe not.

The DBS may look disturbingly similar to its baby brothers but it is cleverly positioned below the likes of the Ferrari 599 and Lamborghini Aventador, and above any Porsche. Aston has found some clear air for it to breathe.

This is not the first car to carry the DBS name, of course. The original model was introduced in 1967 as a supplemental model to the DB6, but it continued in production until 1972, a couple of years beyond its ‘donor’ car’s demise.

The 4.0-litre straight-six model, which had up to 325bhp as a Vantage, is one of the less famous James Bond Astons; it is the car in which Tracy di Vicenzo, aka Mrs Bond, is shot dead by Irma Bunt in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The current DBS wasn’t about to miss out on the tie-in either; it made its Bond debut in 2007, in Casino Royale, and also featured in the follow-up, Quantum of Solace.

It does still look like a DB9 with a bit of hurriedly applied make-up, though – but Aston says the construction is defined by “the need for high-performance stability, handling stability and low kerb weight”.

If that is the form it requires to let it function at a level beyond that of any of the brand’s previous models, then we have no quarrel with it.

Top 5 Supercars

  • Ferrari 458
    The radical-looking, mid-engined V8 Ferrari 458 oozes supercar charm

    Ferrari 458

    1
  • McLaren 650S
    The McLaren 650S is much faster and more exciting to drive than the regular 12C

    McLaren 650S

    2
  • Is it a cut-price SLR or overpriced Merc special with fancy doors?

    Mercedes-Benz SLS

    3
  • Mid-life revisions keep the Audi R8 at the top of its game

    Audi R8

    4
  • Until the £1m One-77, the Aston Martin DBS was the British marque's halo model

    Aston Martin DBS

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    4 March 2015
    Savagely rapid, four-wheel-drive diesel version of BMW's four-door coupé could be brilliant, or it could be a niche too far. We drive the 435d xDrive Gran Coupé to find out.
  • First Drive
    4 March 2015
    This is our first opportunity for a UK drive in a manual version of the new Discovery Sport. Does swapping cogs yourself make more sense?
  • First Drive
    3 March 2015
    Sharper handling, more refined and better-looking. Still a bit rough around the edges, mind, but now good enough to be a class contender
  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever