aston martin laid out a buffet of james bond cars for us to drive at britain's silverstone circuit several months back, in conjunction with the imminent release of the latest bond film, no time to die. (after several pandemic-related delays, it's finally being released in the u.s. on october 8.) our conclusions? the original db5 feels like it's trying to crawl out of a moat. the timothy dalton–era v8 vantage isn't much better. but the no time to die stunt cars? those are brilliant. not road legal, but brilliant.
in fact, those carbon-fiber movie props may be the best astons ever made. start up the straight-piped inline-six, and the cockpit becomes a staccato-voiced, sensory-overload orgasmatron. the steering is light, precise, and delightful. the floor-hinged pedal set is balletic in its precision, and the six-speed manual transmission shifts as if it were making surgical incisions. built around a steel spaceframe with the same 98.0-inch wheelbase as the original, the whole thing weighs only about 2200 pounds. it doesn't need much more tire than its 205/70r-15 avons.
no one would say what engine it uses, but the fact that it is a naturally aspirated inline-six making "about 300 horsepower" narrows the possibilities radically. it is bmw's s54 3.2-liter six out of, among other bimmers, the 2001–2006 e46 m3. has to be. must be. and no one denied it.
so instantaneous in its response and almost freakishly well sorted, the db5 replica begs to be driven tail out around every corner. without turbos to muddy the throttle response, the six's power modulates as if it were on a rheostat.
there's a predictability about movie cars that these forgeries shatter. they aren't baling-wire junk or one-trick ponies. they are the embodiment of virtues like direct driver engagement and an excellent reminder of how rewarding cars can be when their essence is pure.