66 Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2018 - Page 54

Pristine doesn’t begin to describe Wanaka’s Snow Farm and Automotive Proving Ground. Nestled 500 metres above the Cardrona Valley, the Pisa mountain range is an exquisite backdrop to hundreds of swishing Gore-Tex jackets that migrate here each winter for automotive testing amongst the expanse of pure white surrounding the facility. Lavishly, I’m being choppered in at the start of a big day where I’ll drive two very special cars in very special circumstances. My morning will consist of skidding the new Aston Martin Vantage around – on ice mind you – before I get to experience the brand’s all-new V12 DBS Superleggera. The latter is literally being launched to the world’s automotive media for their first drive impressions in Germany as I zip up my Icebreaker to do the same right here in New Zealand. As an added bonus I’ll have one of the world’s first opportunities to sample it on track. This, I should point out, never happens. Car companies never have product to drive in the lower half of the globe at the same time as they’re being launched in Europe. So today is an unusually good day. All this is thanks to Aston’s Art of Living customer experience programme. Art of Living taps into the heritage and cache of the Aston brand and offers several exclusive octane-infused events around the world for their most passionate clientele, from ice driving in New Zealand, to crossing Xinjiang province in China, to hospitality packages at Le Mans. There’s a selection of vehicles here, including the beautiful DB11 and its Aston Martin Racing (AMR) variant. But stepping onto the snow, I’m magnetically drawn to the Vantage. From every angle, it is indisputably handsome. The stark whiteness of the surrounds here accentuates every subtly of the car; the proportions and body surfaces seem even more impressive. It’s a big deal strategically for Aston. In its sights is Porsche’s 911; to say the new Vantage is a cornerstone for the British car maker is like saying Richie McCaw was relatively important to the All Blacks. 52 66 MagAzine SPRING 2018