Cricket commentator Mel Jones with an Aston Martin Vantage.
Cricket commentator Mel Jones with an Aston Martin Vantage.

How to be James Bond for a day

SMOOTH, sporting and British. Well, part British.

Perhaps the only thing preventing Mel Jones from being the new 007 is her preference for a gin and tonic over a martini … and her love of commentating on cricket.

The British-born Fox Sports commentator, grew up in Australia, played for the Southern Stars - and is a mad James Bond fan.

So much so that her first watch was something Q would have been proud to produce - as well as telling the time, it doubled as a calculator and played the James Bond theme tune.

Mel Jones always wanted to be a spy.
Mel Jones always wanted to be a spy.

And with the next film, Bond 25, tipped to introduce a female version of the spy, Jones accepted the mission of road testing an Aston Martin Vantage - which sounds epic and looks fabulous.

Aston Martin has a rich history with the Ian Fleming character, featuring in 12 Bond films so far and lining up for the next. The Vantage in turn has played a huge part in revitalising the pukka British brand in the past few years.

To test the Hammerhead Silver Vantage, Jones takes to the quaint village roads around Aston's HQ in Gaydon in Warwickshire, England.

Gaydon, at last census count with a population of a tick under 500, is home to the British Motor Museum, with the world's largest collection of historic British cars.

The hype says the Vantage has an athletic, predatory stance, with muscular flanks and broad haunches expressing the agility and dynamism inherit within the car.

Just like her calling between wickets playing for the Southern Stars, Jones is more succinct: "It has the get-up-and-go to match its stunning looks. It is lightning fast in its reflexes, there is no lag time whatsoever.

"It just feels so powerful, like it just wants to be given the freedom to cut loose. You can't help but feel nervous about the raw power."

Mel Jones
Mel Jones

The 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 propels the Vantage from rest to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds, on to top speed of 314km/h.

On the winding roads of the village and countryside, the huge rear-drive coupe shows its balance and agility.

As someone carrying the physical wear and tear of professional sport, Jones is immediately taken with the interior.

"The seat is so comfortable and supportive. It just wraps around you. And the cockpit is so modern, like you're sitting down at a keyboard, and it's surprisingly quiet.

"I've just done the factory tour so I know 225 hours have gone into building this car and everything is quality."

A two-seater, the Vantage has space behind to cram in handbags and day bags and the boot is bigger than you think - it would even fit a cricket bag.

Among the standard features, all high quality, are keyless start-stop, tyre pressure monitoring, parking distance display, Bluetooth audio - and a pair of USB sockets.

"As someone who is always on the phone, iPad and laptop, being able to charge my personal devices while travelling between games is a godsend," Jones says.

"The Vantage won me over as soon as I sat down with the two charge points. After driving it, this is now my dream car.

"I find it interesting that the Vantage only comes in an automatic, an eight-speeder."

Verdict

"Growing up, I told mum I wanted to be a spy," Jones says.

"Mum, who is always supportive of me, said something along the lines of, of course I could be but I might stand out in Australia because of my heritage.

"After driving this, I want to be a spy again … and it seems as if the world is ready for a black 007.

"And I am ready for an Aston Martin. What an exceptional experience - you can't help but feel special driving a Vantage."


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