TopGear drives the Aston One-77

Which to TopGear is provocation and pure challenge. Thus, after a year of negotiation, extravagant pitches, slightly iffy plans and false dawns, we finally find ourselves on the Arabian Peninsula in the company of a man called Abdulla Al Ketbi, owner of ultra-high-end dealership Al Ain Class Motors (see more of his cars right here), with a white One-77 that he has purchased so that we can drive it. And, yes, you did read that right. Mr Al Ketbi had pledged to editor-in-chief Turner that we could drive his previous One-77 some months ago, but promptly had an offer he couldn't refuse for the car. In order to satisfy honour, he subsequently went out and bought another one - at well over ten crore - so that TopGear could have a go. Mr Al Ketbi, it seems, takes his promises very seriously indeed.

Interesting, then, that the first time I drive the near-mythical One-77 is to back it gingerly off an uncovered low-loader into a dusty side road in the desert outside Dubai. But, hey, I'll take what I can get. Push the glass and aluminium lozenge of a key (Aston calls it an ECU, or Emotional Control Unit, but such pretension escapes me) into the dash slot, pause, and hear the fuel pumps prime with a whirr. Next comes the high-pitched grunt of the starter motor, and then a click and metallic bark of V12 finally getting some air into its robot lungs. It sounds fast and vital, loud on start-up before settling back into that kind of slightly raspy, businesslike burr that you get from racing engines. But it's also uncanny in its smoothness and closeness, the exhaust running as it does through the sill by your hips instead of underneath the car.