Aston Martin Buyers Want $300,000 Car to Keep Skidding

Drivers of Aston Martin sports cars such as the $300,000 Vanquish coupe are demanding an option that’s increasingly rare in modern luxury vehicles: the chance to lose control.

That means the British manufacturer is making sure customers can easily turn off systems such as electronic stability programs that keep cars from skidding on wet roads, even as it works to add more such safety features.

“Our customers want to feel the road,” Jeffrey Scott, head of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.’s European operations, said at a press briefing yesterday outside Frankfurt to present the revamped Vanquish. “More electronic-assistance programs are coming. But you have to be able to switch them off as well.”

While global auto manufacturers boost spending to develop features for more comfortable and safer rides, aficionados of elite sports cars are resisting technology that interferes with their sense of control once they’re behind the wheel. Buyers of Aston Martin cars “enjoy a dynamic, active driving experience,” prompting many to shut down the automated accessories, Scott said.

“Unlike in other cars, you can switch off all systems in an Aston Martin,” apart from the anti-lock brakes, the executive said.

To be sure, many Aston Martin customers own four or five additional cars, including sport-utility vehicles, for everyday use with all electronic-assistance programs switched on. Even so, cutting off features such as electronic stability control, standard in most modern cars to improve safety, isn’t universally recommended.

“You have to be a good driver,” Scott said. Those with less skill struggle to keep Aston Martin’s powerful vehicles on the road, and every spring, the customer-service department at the Gaydon, England-based carmaker records a surge in paint and chassis damage, Scott said.

“It’s a bit like motorbike drivers,” he said. “Once winter is over and the roads are dry, you go out and test your vehicle. But it takes some time to get used to it again.”

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