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Autos

Aston Martin DB9 GT driver is not shaken, not stirred

The 2016 Aston Martin DB9 GT Volante is a 540 horsepower luxury sports car carrying on the tradition of the DB badge. The two-seater is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 and has a base MSRP of $214,950.

The Aston Martin DB9 GT — like the international man of mystery who gave the English car company its fame — is a smooth operator. Silky and sleek, neither shaken nor stirred, James Bond’s favorite car has the power to make any driver want to slip on a tuxedo and strap on a Walther PPK.

Outfitted with a massive 6.0-liter V12 engine, the DB9 GT produces 540 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. Capable of a top speed of 183 miles per hour, Aston Martin says, it goes from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds.

But even in sport mode, under heavy acceleration, the DB9 is mellow — as if saying, “No need to hurry, old chap.”

That’s partly the work of the car’s Touchtronic II six-speed paddle shift transmission, a gentle variation on the sharper PDK system used by Porsche — maybe the best semi-automatic shift on the market.

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The Touchtronic slurs from gear to gear, imbuing a sensation of refinement and restraint, rather than the precise snap of the PDK. On the road, the DB9 GT feels solid and sturdy, and even a little stodgy — not entirely surprising, given the 4,000-pound weight of the Volante convertible version. In the twisties, even with the suspension tuned to sport mode, the handling is a bit sloppy.

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But just listen to it. Upon start up, and with sport mode engaged, the DB9 GT’s exhaust bypass valve opens, uncorking a delicious, throaty muffler note that’s one of the automotive world’s most beautiful sounds.

And look at it! Top up or top down, the Aston Martin’s long hood, rounded shoulders and sinuous belt line are a portrait in refined power.

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The interior is English drawing-room elegance. The wraparound leather -- on steering wheel cover, dash, door panels and form-fitted seats -- gives the car a rich, masculine feel, offset by the discreet use of wood paneling and chrome detail.

The amenities are minimal. There are seat heaters, but no seat ventilation. The sun visor is the smallest I’ve seen on any car except the Aston Martin Vantage S, and the cupholders won’t cradle anything larger than an espresso — reminders, perhaps, that English and European drivers aren’t constantly lapping up the latte when they drive and that the sun doesn’t shine quite as brightly in London as it does in Los Angeles.

To that point, some DB models actually come with a “boot-mounted umbrella.” (That’s “trunk-mounted,” Yanks.) The one we borrowed didn’t come with the umbrella, but it did have Velcro straps in the trunk to hold the bumbershoot in place.

And though the DB9 GT doesn’t come with any 007-style top secret features — no ejector seat, machine guns, rocket launchers, or cloaking devices from Bond’s earlier Aston Martins — it does have a pair of automatically deploying roll bars, in case the driver gets too frisky and flips over.

The DB9 GT, which plays on its Bond connection with ad lines such as, “Licensed to thrill,” was first introduced in 2004. It has been the most successful Aston Martin in the company’s history.

Despite that, the 2016 model will be its last. The next model in the DB line — which has been the badge on the exquisite sports cars since the 1950s — will be the DB11. It is likely to be a 2017 vehicle, and is likely to have a great resemblance to the DB10, the custom-made car that will not be sold but can be seen in the new Bond movie, “Spectre.”

Bond requisitions his vehicles and then typically destroys them while pursuing the agents of evil. For the rest of us, the Aston Martin costs money — lots of money.

This DB9 GT has a starting MSRP of $217,000. The Volante convertible I drove, with an $8,000 Bang and Olufsen sound system, goes for $228,800.

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That puts it in the ultra-premium range, and up against some extremely impressive sports cars. A Ferrari 458 or McLaren 650 S don’t cost much more than that. A Porsche 911 GT3 costs less. You could buy three Jaguar F-Types for the same money, or two Mercedes Benz AMG GTs.

Those are all great cars. But none of them has the Bond imprimatur.

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