I've just landed at Munich airport in Germany, it's 8:55 AM local time. I send a quick text message to Kilian Konig, the transport man, to tell him that I'll see him outside the terminal for the pickup of the Aston Martin DBS in about 15 minutes. But why am I here in Munich and why am I about to drive Aston's hottest model? Ah, the full story will have to wait until our June issue, on newsstands now. Until then, I thought I'd tell you a bit about my drive down to the secret destination.
With the hand off complete, I'm now in the DBS leaving the airport. Aston loaned us a right-hand-drive model. Not a big deal as I used to live in England. Just to make sure you're up to speed, here are a few of the noteworthy specs on the DBS: 5.9-liter V-12 with 510 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, a six-speed manual box, and huge carbon-ceramic brakes. The press kit says it will go 191 mph. I hope the brief Autobahn run before I enter Austria allows me to play in that range.
It so happens that around 165 mph is all I can manage. I'm not one to closely pass cars at insane speeds on the Autobahn. I like to keep an empty "buffer lane" on 3-lane sections. Sure, I could have kept going but I'm not going to risk either this $265,000 car or myself. It was wonderful to drive the DBS in Germany as it gets a ton of attention and is rock-solid at high speeds.
As I approached Austria, I stopped at a fuel station to pick up a toll pass. That's right, in Austria you need to get an adhesive decal for your windshield to (legally) use the highway system. A 10-day pass costs you just under 8 Euro (about $12) but boy is it worth it. Austria is gorgeous. The country is full of smooth roads, tunnels and curves, and excellent lane usage by all drivers. The speed limit is 130 km/h (just over 80 mph) but I'm able to maintain a 100-120 mph pace, as traffic is very low. During the journey, I was surprised to come upon a tollbooth. Didn't I already take care of that with the 10-day sticker? 8 more Euros (and a bruised knee-cap and aching back from trying to wiggle from the right-hand driver's seat to Mr. Toll Collector Man on the left) and I carry on. Even thought it's the middle of April, there is still a good amount of snow in the higher-elevation areas. The roads are covered in salt and it looks like there was a dump of white stuff only one or two days earlier. My pace slows due to the conditions as well as a greater number of trucks and other traffic.
But as I enter my destination country, things speed up. The locals like to drive quickly and try to keep up with the Aston at all times. A few brief 150 mph runs just so the other drivers (and this driver) can hear that glorious V-12 and there are smiles all around. There is just something about a twelve-cylinder engine that is just fantastic. But what about fuel consumption you ask? Ah yes, the negatives of large displacement. A quick check of the trip computer and a bit of math to convert liters per 100 km to U.S. mpg and the result is 15 mpg. Not too good but I wasn't trying to be an eco-driver on this occasion. Come to think of it, that number isn't that bad given the performance on the DBS. I filled up once in Austria and fuel was just under $9 a gallon for the good stuff (the equivalent of around 94 octane in the U.S.). Yes, $9 dollars a gallon. Blame the fuel tax but, more importantly, blame a weak dollar. Think about that, if you ran the 20.2-gallon tank dry, it would cost you around $180 to fill this thirsty British beast up in Austria. Next time you complain about $4.00 a gallon fuel, don't forget we're still lucky in the USA.
My journey was supposed to take 5 hours and 20 minutes according to Google Maps. I did it in just over 5 hours but that included a long traffic jam just outside Munich, the stop for the Austrian toll decal, an unrushed fuel stop, and a 45-minute sit down lunch. For the rest of the story, make sure to check out the June issue of Automobile Magazine. You won't be disappointed.