Aston Martin Valour

The engine starts with a familiar V12 whumpf, but it’s not as loud as I’d like. This is a big occasion and the car should sound as well as look the part. What noise it does make, however, is gorgeous. Part of me expected the clutch to require a hefty shove but, slightly to my masochistic disappointment, it’s quite light, and perfectly weight-matched to the brake, throttle and steering.

The car has been defiantly set up for the road (if you want to duff up your mates at track days, you’ll have to hope you get offered one of its 38-off Valiant circuit-tuned siblings), and the Valour delivers a compliant ride and a smooth shift. Indeed, the chassis has been brilliantly judged: the ride is superb with the dampers set to soft, but the moment you feel a touch too much vertical movement, switch them to Sport and the body settles at once.

You can feel the mass in the nose and, with that tight diff out the back, you fear it might just want to understeer. Not so: the steering is so accurate you can always place the car where you want, and then rely on uncommon traction for a front-engined, rear-driven car to spear you out of the corner. Thank the transaxle, diff and soft springs for all that.

Better still, the gearbox is superb. The shift is silky, with just enough mechanical feel, and beautifully precise, save for when you’re hurrying across the gate from second to third. In most respects, it is precisely what I’d hoped for from this car, and when you combine its slick action with the gentle howls of the V12 on a road good enough to do justice to the chassis, then one form of automotive nirvana awaits.

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