You've got to admire Aston Martin's balls. It builds the DBS and only makes a manual gearbox available at the launch, yet all the key players in this market offer at least an automated manual. Imagine a Ferrari being launched without the fabled F1 'box. Plus, Aston DB9 sales have been 90 per cent automatic.
But Aston thought the DBS was a sporty car and deserved a manual only. To be fair, it seems like a refreshingly honest reason, and is backed up by more than just marketing hyperbole. The USA, surely the most pro-auto nation, buys most of its Astons as manuals.
But Aston can ignore economics for only so long. The Middle East only wants automatic DBSs, there's a pretty reasonable amount of money floating around out there, therefore an automatic DBS was essential.
This isn't an automated manual - it's a full torque-convertor - and it's been pinched out of the DB9. But because the DBS is currently the halo Aston and meant to be the most hardcore, it's not a straight swap. Shift changes are 20 per cent quicker in normal shift mode, 25 per cent in Sport, and the final drive ratio has been altered to give more punch.
The reason Aston has stuck with a torque-convertor is it feels the alternative is too clunky in the automatic mode. But the problem with most torque convertors is that frequently there's no point in the paddles. They don't add any enjoyment to the experience of physically driving the car.
Not in the DBS though. The new 'box is smooth in full auto, even with the Sport mode selected, and crucially it doesn't hunt for a gear when you come into a roundabout on a trailing throttle.
But the manual mode is where this thing is best because it's just that. Genuinely manual. Press the Sport button (something you need to do whenever you drive this car - the car is far sharper in both auto and manual with it selected) and the DBS won't up-shift for you. You can really drive this Aston as hard as you want.
The shifts aren't anywhere near as brutal as the Ferrari 430 Scuderia, and nor do they feel as quick, but they are seamless and judged just right. There's enough pause between the ratios to let you feel like you're interacting with the DBS.
It only adds to the experience of driving this car and doesn't take anything away. The standard manual gearbox is a bit clunky and the gear lever itself isn't a pretty thing. The touchtronic layout is far neater. It feels more expensive. Which it is, by $7,000, when you're already spending $466,000. But it's the easiest option you'll tick on your DBS.
Another incentive to get this latest DBS is the new Bang&Olufsen stereo. There are now 13 speakers inside the cabin, some of which have been made from a solid aluminium billet to reduce vibrations. It's all very technical, as the B&O set-up can tell what speed you're doing, how much wind and road noise there is, how many people are in the car and adjust all the levels so that you never have to fiddle with volume or directional controls.
Aston Martin face-lifted the DB9 recently; even without a face-lift, the improvements on this DBS are far more noteworthy.