Prominent surgeon Dr Melvin Look experiences the new Aston Martin Vantage for the first time and shares his opinion of its storied legacy and thoughtful details
Dr Melvin Look might be a mild-mannered gent, but he certainly isn’t your family sedan kind of guy. The Director of Panasia Surgery spends most of his time shuttling between his three clinics – this also consumes a large chunk of his weekends – which is why his commutes are sacred. When it comes to cars, he confesses that he doesn’t mind trading practicality for more emotionally invigorating elements. Unlike other drivers who might use travelling time to mentally prepare for their impending appointment and its agenda, Dr Look divulges that when he is in the driver’s seat, he is in the moment; and relishing a luxurious drive is his only concern.
“It’s effortlessly powerful,” he admits about the Aston Martin Vantage. Dr Look doesn’t realise how fast he’s driving until the facilitator of his test drive directs his attention to the speedometer, pointing out that, unlike its contemporaries, the Vantage doesn’t burst the driver’s eardrums at high speeds.
The Vantage is driven by the four-litre Twin-turbocharged V8 engine which can generate over 500 horsepower. Its distinct battle cry is muted from the cockpit, just enough for its driver to enjoy the rollick, while reminding him that he’s holding the reins of a world-class steed.
The Aston Martin Vantage is an icon of endurance races, which last four to 24 hours – a test of competing cars’ long-haul resilience. While the Vantage has won world championships like the FIA World Endurance Championship and British GT, it is simultaneously an adept sprinter that can zip from standstill to 62mph in 3.6 seconds.
At the helm of the Vantage, Dr Look looks self-assured and not the least bit flustered. While carbon-ceramic brakes might be an over-hyped symbol of prestige, the Vantage’s state-of-the-art iron alloy brakes do as good a job with manoeuvring this sartorial speed demon. By tapping these brakes lightly, he negotiates the bends of Dempsey Hill with ease, before taking the Vantage for one last burst down the West Coast Highway.
After a heart-racing and thoroughly satisfying joyride, the Vantage’s trademark swan doors rise. Dr Look emerges looking pleasantly surprised, sharing that he has been wowed by the experience of the Vantage’s tagline: “Beautiful Won’t Be Tamed”.
Portfolio: Hi Dr Look, first impressions?
Dr Melvin Look:It’s a nice car. It’s very engaging and its handling is superb. I noticed that it’s very responsive and has a good pick-up. I like the signature sporty sound that its V8 engine makes.
What were your earliest memories of riding in cars, which got you interested in automotives?
I guess, as a young boy my parents would bring me on long drives to Changi Beach Club and I enjoyed these nice, long, windy drives. My dad owned a few different cars, like a Volvo, then a Mercedes… When I drive on a windy day, it brings back nice memories of those windy drives. There was more nature as Singapore was not so built-up then. Nowadays, I drive more for work, between my clinics and appointments, than for leisure.
Since you spend a lot of time commuting between your clinics, do you prioritise functionality?
Yes, functionality is important to me, but these drives also provides me with a bit of downtime and during these moments, I want to be able to enjoy a nice car. As a surgeon, I admire the form and function of things, such as the details of a car. Its design has to be appealing and my downtime needs a nice soundtrack – this soundtrack is the engine’s sound. I don’t mind if my car is nice but isn’t so practical.
With cars, do you have a type?
I like continental cars, Italian cars… cars with character and with a ‘wow factor’.
How does the Aston Martin Vantage measure up to your expectations and preferences?
The Vantage is a very enjoyable car. It’s tough and I like its feedback! It’s powerful when you want it to be.
How do you define a luxurious ride?
The styling of the car, its build, and the quality of its interior and engine. I like when attention is paid to these details. These are all apparent in the Vantage. Surgeons tend to be perfectionistic and look out for these details. It’s the little things that define luxury, rather than a brand or a price point.
What do you think about during this precious downtime that is your drive?
I don’t really think about anything. I like to listen to the BBC while driving – I find the BBC very entertaining – so a good sound system is important to me.
Does the look and feel of the car’s interior help you unwind?
Yes, the sportiness, the seats, the leather and the overall interior all help me relax. Some cars look nice when you first buy them, but might age poorly – buttons can get sticky and bits and pieces can gradually fall off, if the car is not as well designed. Aston Martin does very well with the interiors of its cars and has a strong reputation for this.
What’s your verdict on the power and handling of the Vantage?
It handles very well – firm but not too floaty – and its power comes quite quickly. The Vantage can be quick when you want speed, but it’s not daunting or overpowering. In fact, it’s intuitive and its gear changes are very smooth.
Above all, what do you think are the distinguishing elements of the Aston Martin Vantage?
Aston Martin’s heritage, history and the fact that it’s ‘the James Bond car’. Little things like how its door open at an angle make it look very stylish.
Do you like its audible volume and the smoothness of the drive?
It has quite a nice engine note. Inside, its insulation is pretty good. I enjoy its sound! It has good suspension, but just enough to let you feel the road. The ability to feel the road adds to the handling of this car. I like that because I wouldn’t enjoy a car that’s too sedate.