ASTON Martin has definitely won new car bragging rights this week. Skoda might have launched a new Octavia vRS and there’s a special edition Suzuki Swift on the way – but they’re hardly a patch on the first brand new DB5 in more than half a century.
Not only that, but it’s the DB5 – as in an exact replica of the one Sir Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger, complete with a bulletproof rear shield and a system for dropping oil into the path of following cars. Obviously, it’s not even remotely road legal. It also costs £3.3million, and there are only going to be 25 of them.
Happily, you don’t need a job at MI6 to clamber behind the wheel of 2020’s other most-talked-about new motor, the Land Rover Defender. Sorry, that was last summer. Nope, I mean the Ineos Grenadier. Or the Land Rover Defender, I think. You’d be forgiven for wondering which is which.
Land Rover’s own reinvention, unveiled last September and which has only just started appearing on our roads in the last month or so, is a complete, ground-up rethink of its longest-serving product. There are loads of clever design touches and some nods to the original, including the third ‘jump’ seat in between the driver and the passenger. It should also be, on account of its nifty electronic differential and air suspension, pretty capable off-piste too.
It’ll be a hit with the sort of upper management types who love doing a spot of fell walking at the weekends, for sure, but with a starting price of £45k I’m not sure how many Welsh farmers it’s going to win over.
Which is where the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Land-Rover, sorry, the Grenadier, comes in. Ineos hasn’t confirmed prices yet but it’s aiming for its new Defender-inspired off-roaders, which uses BMW engines to haul itself up rocky inclines, to cost nearer £30k when it goes on sale. It also has a separate ladder-frame chassis, not unlike a certain other off-roader that went out of production a few years ago and isn’t aimed at upper management types at all. Not even slightly – it’s a ‘no frills, utilitarian vehicle.’ It even looks like the old Defender, right down to the Alpine Light-esque windows in the roof assembly.
Just about the only moan from the hard-core off-road faithful is that you won’t be able to mend its engines with a spanner and some hammers like you can with older off-roaders, but then it wouldn’t be able to pass all the emissions rules without modern engine tech. Certainly, I think the Ineos is more likely to pass what I call the Ifor Williams test – being able to look the part with a metal canopy, made in a Welsh valley, clamped to the back.
Typical, isn’t it? You spend 30 years waiting for a new Defender, and then two rock up at once. Personally, I’d have both – and a Goldfinger DB5 thrown in for good measure.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly