Aston Martin officially opened the doors to its first dealership in India this year, taking the style and luxury quotient of Indian roads up a notch, or maybe two. Mr Lalit Choudary from performance Cars certainly agrees with us!
By: Karishma Parkash
Posted on: November 10, 2011
James Bond made his official entry into India on April 15 this year. No, I am not talking about the mystifying idol and his larger than life charisma on screen but his oh-so-very-smooth ride which has been the object of envy by millions, maybe more. In collaboration with an eminent luxury car dealership, Performance Cars (a division of Infinity Cars Pvt. Ltd), Aston Martin recently embarked on its presence in India by introducing the British marquee’s luxury sports car to a discerning Indian audience. With India’s luxury market expected to touch a staggering $14.7 billion by 2015, it comes as little or no shock of the brand’s interest in our lands.
Located at Kemp’s Corner at the junction of the ultra-premium Peddar and Altamount Roads, Performance Cars’ exclusive Aston Martin dealership provides enthusiasts with a high-end boutique environment and the ability to custom specify the cars according to their preferences. These days, if you have got the stash of notes – sky is the limit. So customising your toy for the roads hardly seems innovative. Yet, Aston Martin offers among the widest possible customisation among automotive manufacturers. Customers can individualise the paint trims, upholstery, alloys, sound systems, and more, all to suit their needs. The cars are hand built – so the production processes allow for such customisation. If customers chose to customise beyond the norm, their facility, Works Service, accommodates diverse requests – right from gold plating and special customised upholstery and stitching, to monograms woven in the cars interiors. Sigh!
Can you feel the adrenaline rush and the testosterones rising? In a conversation with Mr Lalit Choudary, Managing Director of Infinity Cars Private Limited, we take a quick look at Aston Martin’s entry into India.
He founded the company in 2006 after re-locating to India post his eight year Investment Banking position at Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong. Seeing the opportunity for luxury cars and products in India, he established Infinity Cars with the dealership of BMW in Mumbai and subsequently in Madhya Pradesh, India. In late 2009, Mr Choudary initiated dialogue with Aston Martin to bring the brand to India. With a hefty price range starting from Rs 1.35 crore and going up to even Rs 20 crore, I can already sense the excitement and aspiration in the air. The product range consists of six to seven models across various price-points.
Closer to home
Mr Choudhary shared that the brand is meant to be very exclusive with 30-50 units being sold annually in the country. With these volumes split across cities, the cars will remain a rarity on the roads. As a result, they will retain their exclusivity and remain an aspirational purchase. However, Indian road conditions do not really allow a consumer to thoroughly enjoy such high power cars - what with the potholes and rough roads. What’s to say this mean machine will pass the test? Mr Choudhary opines, “The roads are improving, especially with respect to highways. Further in the city, driving the Astons offer a comfortable and smooth drive in comparison to other sports cars. Ground clearance on the cars is also fairly good and allows for them to drive comfortably over speed bumps and the like.” Wondering which model is most suited to Indian road conditions? “The Rapide is a practical car given its four door functionality. Ground clearance and driving comfort is unlike other sports cars. Other models in the Aston range, such as the DBS, Virage and Vantage S have also performed well on our roads. Having said that, to best enjoy these cars, one needs to drive them in sections of the city or expressways that offer the best surfaces to drive on,” Mr Choudhary suggested.
Performance Cars, as the name suggests, is Mr Choudhary’s endeavour to represent the best of ‘performance cars’ the world has to offer. “Having got into the luxury car business a few years ago I saw that there is an appetite for a company such as Performance Cars in India. Several brands were yet to make an entry into the market. Among them though, Aston Martin stood out. One grew up seeing these cars in various James Bond movies,” he shared. He recalled that whenever he spoke with potential customers, their eyes lit up at the prospect of owning an Aston Martin. That got him thinking and prompted him to visit the Aston Martin factory at Gaydon in the summer of 2009. Seeing the passion with which the team put these cars together and witnessing the cars roll out of the factory custom-built one by one, it left him with a craving for the brand and deepened his desire to bring it to India. The result is there for one and all to see.
Even if you are not the typical James Bond type, Mr Choudhary has a fair enough image of the people driving these machines on the streets. “Buyers of these cars will be fabulously wealthy individuals. However, it’s not wealth alone that determines a buyer. The buyer will be someone who is sophisticated, widely travelled, has a taste for luxury and is on the lookout for something very exclusive; that only a few will possess,” he said. Owning an Aston Martin makes a unique and compelling statement – true that!
If you prefer to give this baby to your driver to pompously sightsee Mumbai, worry not. Mr Choudhary assures that these cars are very, very powerful. “However, it’s not all about a 0-100km drive. They are uniquely beautiful. They are widely regarded as the best looking cars on the planet. The legacy, the heritage, the craftsmanship all make for these wonderfully soulful machines. This point in itself would urge customers to enjoy the experience by driving the cars themselves. Customers often use chauffeurs to drive them during the week day, but on week nights and weekends, its often seen that customers enjoy driving themselves and want, as a result, a unique and fun car to drive,” he said.
Eye catching and extraordinary
It is said that at Rs 20 crore, the One-77 model is the most expensive in the company’s line-up on Indian roads currently. Motoring enthusiasts will acknowledge that the car is a fine art form offering stunning looks, a commanding road presence, driving exhilaration and fine interiors. It is meant for individuals who value these attributes. I’d say, definitely worth a look and I bet you would agree. Interestingly enough, all the cars are imported as fully built units and ready to sell and electrify!
Representing the brand on the forefront, the staff at these dealerships has been trained at the Aston Martin factory at Gaydon. “They are best equipped to represent the brand locally and further, on the after-sales side, can handle the upkeep of the cars in the most effective way,” said a proud Mr Choudhary.
With close competition from brands such as Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche, the brand that brought to life James Bond movies seems unruffled. Mr Choudhary is quick to mention that the values of the brand are very different from the competitor’s brands. “From cursory review, one would agree that Aston Martin cars are elegant and typically understated – not too flamboyant. Further, they are hand built cars and meant for a select group of buyers whereas some of other brands are typically production cars which produce 10-20x the volume of Aston Martin. The prestige and exclusivity accorded by Aston Martin is unmatched,” he said.
With time, everything seems to be getting better and India is at the forefront when it comes to automobiles, fashion or even technology. “We are currently focused on consolidating our presence in the Mumbai market. With time, as the population of cars increase in other cities, one will consider establishing a presence. However, this will need to be done with full support of Aston Martin and needs to also reflect the evolution of the market locally,” said Mr Choudhary. Prep your eyes to feast and follow this beauty as it makes it way on Indian roads!