James Bond and cool cars go together like gin and vermouth, with the infamous M16 agent driving dozens of stylish vehicles on the big screen. But it’s the gadgets that make Bond’s cars memorable, from ejector seats to hidden machine guns, poison darts to retractable skis, and adaptive camouflage to surface-to-air missiles; Bond’s cars have run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. As technology advances, some of the less outlandish Bond creations suddenly seem quite prescient, such as the remote controlled BMW that featured in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The submergible Lotus from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me has also become a reality, although its usefulness is certainly questionable at best. Self-driving cars are already on the road and Bluetooth-enabled multimedia is common, but what other technologies can make you feel like you’re on a dangerous and clandestine mission to save the free world while you commute to the shops?
The classic, redefined
We couldn’t mention James Bond without mentioning Aston Martin, the British marque that has been Bond’s signature vehicle more than half a century. First seen driving a DB in 1964’s Goldfinger, Bond’s taste for Aston Martin’s has rarely wavered, and with good reason. The carmaker has turned a corner after some dark periods and now consistently produces some seriously good, and seriously fast, cars. It’s latest prototype, the AM-RB 001 hypercar, boasts a V12 hybrid-electric drivetrain that is expected to produce more than 1000hp. Aston Martin are reportedly claiming that it will be as fast around a race track as a Formula One car, and with Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey overseeing production they might not be exaggerating. It also has miniature cameras instead of rearview mirrors to satisfy gadget lovers (and spot bad guys with). Priced at around £2.5 million, even Bond himself might need a car loan to get into one of these.
The 7 Series is the flagship vehicle in the BMW line-up, often used to showcase the marque’s latest technological advances. The 2016 model included some of the most advanced technology we’ve seen in a production car, with gesture control of multimedia functions and, get this, actual lasers for headlights. Yes, lasers. First seen in the futuristic i8 sports car (as a US$9000 extra), BMW claims its Laserlight high-beam mode illuminates a range of up to 600 metres, nearly twice as far as conventional headlights––perfect for that high-speed escape through the countryside. The advanced headlights also work in conjunction with an infrared camera to spot and illuminate people and animals in the dark. The lasers are safe for human eyes, so anyone thinking of using them as a weapon will be disappointed. Meanwhile, the gesture control system means you can answer a call with the swipe of your hand, or turn the volume up by making circles with your index finger. It sounds pretty cool, but also sure to look kind of weird when you’re sitting in traffic waving your hands around like a confused mime artist.
The ultimate gadget car
You can’t talk about car tech without mentioning Tesla, the carmaker owned by multi-billionaire space explorer and Bond villain name-haver Elon Musk. Tesla creates some of the world’s most advanced hybrid vehicles, and Prius-like these are not. The Model S sedan can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 2.7 seconds, and also drives itself if you feel like sitting back and relaxing with the latest intelligence briefings on the freeway. But it’s the Bio-Weapon Defense Mode that really makes this car Bond-like, with the air filtration system removing at least 99.97% of all allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from cabin air.
There are also a wide range of options when it comes to carbon fiber vinyl for your car, and the prices are very affordable. Also very slick, also very bond, and also… very cool.
Can I help you with that?
It’s Mercedes Benz that has perhaps come closest to offering the most Bond-like features and experiences to their owners. The brand’s unique mbrace suite of products has several package options, but in essence it allows you to control and monitor your car using a smartphone app. You can open or lock your doors, set a navigation destination, and even start the engine all from your phone. If you stump for the Concierge package, you’ll have also access to your own personal assistant who can help you with dinner reservations, event tickets, travel arrangements, and more. Meanwhile, the Send2Benz feature allows others to send their address directly to your car’s navigation system. Does it get any more Bond than starting your car from your hotel room, picking up your dashing date, and then organising opera tickets on the fly through your car’s onboard control centre? We think not.