I CAN’T hold it in any longer.
I drove these Bond cars last year but, like the rest of the nation, I was waiting for No Time To Die to come out.
It’s now looking more likely that Daniel Craig will be fat and bald and sat in the sunny window of a nursing home before we see it.
Because no one is going to the cinema on April 2. Or for a long time after that.
But at least I can share some behind-the-scenes car secrets to tide you over — including my sneak drive in the Aston Martin Valhalla.
Not even Bond has driven that.
So let’s start with Valhalla.
You’ll see a glimpse of the mid-engined hypercar in front of a wind turbine in the official movie trailer but it doesn’t feature in any chase sequences.
The truth is, Aston supplied what is known as a “running film asset” — a kit car with a Valhalla body on top.
The real car, costing more than £1million and limited to 500 lucky sods, is still in development and won’t hit the road until late 2022.
WE got to drive it before Bond. Valhalla makes a brief appearance in No Time To Die.
The real £1million-plus hypercar hits the road in 2022 and will eventually sit between this summer’s ultra-exclusive Valkyrie, also developed with Red Bull, and a new mid-engined Vanquish coming in 2023 to take on Ferrari and McLaren.
Valhalla was at Silverstone for a media day alongside three other Astons from No Time To Die: the legendary DB5, the original Aston Martin V8 from the Eighties, and a current-day DBS Superleggera.
Valhalla was the only one not allowed to be driven.
Except I managed to sneak it under the noses of the powers-that-be. Just as Bond would have done. He wouldn’t have abided by the rules.
So I’m expecting an awkward phone call this morning.
Film set ‘awash with Coke’
BOSSES blew £50,000 on Coke filming Bond. No, not what you’re thinking. The fizzy stuff.
Stuntmen doused slippery streets with thousands of litres of Coca-Cola to improve grip for chase scenes in Matera, Italy.
Rally ace Mark Higgins, who doubles for Daniel Craig, said: “The difference it made was unbelievable. I’m not talking a little bit. Two to three times more grip than we had before.
“On the first day of shooting, we had a drift on to the square – you see it on the trailer – and those big, black tyre marks are not CGI, they were coming off the car because there was that much grip. It looks pretty cool.
“It took us a few days to work out the levels we needed but then, as it wore off and you got a few patchy corners – whoa! – the thing would be round on you. It was incredible.
“We stockpiled pallets and pallets of Coca-Cola. We must have spent 40 to 50 grand on the stuff.”
Any road, I’m pleased to report that Valhalla was as loud and as raw and as utterly intoxicating as expected. And it looks like a spaceship. Only way cooler.
There was no interior as such — just basic race car controls — but the driving position was sublime, as was the view from the dome-shaped window.
Aston promises the road car with its electrified 3-litre V6 will “surpass the performance of existing hypercar rivals”. I believe them.
Next up, the DB5. Dear God, I love my job. It looks every inch a mega-money classic but it’s really a drift-happy stunt car: 300hp, rear-wheel drive and super lightweight (just 1,000kg all-in) with a hydraulic handbrake.
TAKE my money. This is basically a modern-day rally car in a classic DB5 suit.
Aston built eight hero DB5s with 300hp BMW M3 engines, trick chassis and carbon-fibre body panels.
Too much fun. Keep the big wooden tiller and skinny tyres and just add Bluetooth.
The DB5 has now appeared in eight Bond films stretching back to Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964.
Underneath those carbon- fibre body panels you’ll find a six-cylinder BMW M3 engine, bolted to a bespoke space frame chassis, with Ohlins rallycross suspension.
In the right hands, this thing can dance.
Aston built eight hero DB5s for the movie and if they ever want to sell one, they’ve got my number.
Now I’m nothing if not thorough.
Separately, I got on the blower to Jaguar Land Rover and arranged to drive a Bond baddie car.
There’s an epic chase scene in the Scottish Highlands featuring at least three Defender X models.
I drove chassis 007 — I’m not making this up — on a muddy rally stage and it didn’t disappoint.
Bond stunt driver Jess Hawkins said: “It is pretty much standard. It’s an incredible piece of kit.”
Craig’s skills at the wheel
STUNTMAN Mark Higgins on Daniel Craig’s skills at the wheel: “He’s a good little driver.
“On every film where I’ve worked with him, we’ve done a bit of work in the cars beforehand and if he can, he’ll dive in and drive.
“A lot of the pull-off stuff he’ll do. He’s a really nice guy and it’s been great getting to know him over the years.”
In all, 140 vehicles were prepped for No Time To Die, including the Range Rover Sport SVR, Range Rover Classic, an old Toyota Land Cruiser, Jaguar XF, Jaguar I-Pace, and many more.
Sounds like a good game of Bond car bingo, when we finally get to see it.
I LIKE the Jeep Renegade.
I like the way it looks.
I like being in it.
I like the fact you can run it up a kerb and not worry.
I even like it in “bikini” turquoise green.
Most of all, though, I like it because it’s a proper game little 4×4 that rolls on M&S tyres (mud and snow, not the shop). So it’s ready when you are.
Now Jeep has future-proofed the Renegade as a plug-in hybrid, you’d expect me to point you towards that one, right?
Er, yes and no.
It makes sense if you work in town or only do short distances because you’ll hardly ever use a drop of dino fuel.
It can do 26 miles on pure electric and recharges in two hours.
JEEP RENEGADE 4xe
Engine: 1.3-litre petrol with 11.4kWh battery
Power: 240hp, 350Nm
0-62mph: 7.1 secs
Top speed: 124mph
EV mode: 26 miles
Or, press the “max regen” button by the handbrake and it will replenish the battery on the go.
The Renegade 4xe also makes sense as a company car. But for everyone else the hybrid system comes at a cost. Actually, two costs.
The first is that, at £32k, you’re paying £9k extra compared to a standard petrol Renegade. That’s too much.
The second is that packaging means the petrol tank is smaller – brim it and it’ll only do 240 miles – which doesn’t help when the 1.3-litre petrol engine is not very good.
Expect around 36mpg in the real world. The official 123mpg is a meaningless lab test.
I much prefer the plain 1-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol because that’s a nicer engine and more economical. Now let’s have a poke around the cabin.
I like the chunky dials, the grab handles and the all-weather floor mats.
I like the buttons that keep my back and pinkies warm.
I like the easy controls for Snow, Sand, Sport, 4WD Lock and so on.
I also like the proper spare wheel and the fold-down middle seat with integrated cup holders.
Mostly, though, I like the Renegade because it’s different and it’s built for fun.
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