► Production version of DB11 tested
► Twin-turbo V12 puts out 600bhp
► New Aston on sale now for £154,000
The Aston Martin DB11 is the first all-new mass-produced Aston in over a decade, and the first full DB line refresh since the DB9 in 2003. We’ve driven this car previously, in prototype form, but this marks our first test of the finished production car.
Wait a moment – DB11? What happened to DB10?
When Aston introduced the DB9 back in 2003, to replace the DB7, it skipped a number to underline how radically different the new car was. This time the DB11 skips too, but only because the most recent Bond film – Spectre – featured a one-off (actually 10-off) car called the DB10. It hinted at some of the styling cues for the new car, but it was actually just a cut’n’shut Vantage underneath. The DB11 is genuinely new.
How new is Aston’s DB11, then?
Very: it features a new aluminium platform (that will also underpin next year’s Vantage replacement in shortened form), a new turbocharged V12 engine, and a new design language. Chief doodler Marek Reichman has been at Aston for 10 years but until now has never had the chance to oversee work on an all-new Aston production car.
What’s this turbocharged V12 like? Doesn’t sound very Aston.
Actually, judging by the rich bassy tones filtering into the cabin, it sounds exactly like an Aston, except maybe without the high-frequency scream at maximium RPM. Throttle response is good, and power is up from the 517bhp of the DB9’s 5.9-litre naturally aspirated V12 to 600bhp at the same 6500rpm.
Torque climbs by 59lb ft to 516lb ft – and is on offer all the way from 1500-5000rpm, while the old V12 didn’t max out until five-five. Aston quotes 0-62mph in 3.9sec, down from 4.6sec, while the top speed is lifted from 183mph to 200mph for the first time. You’re not going to frighten any 911 Turbos, but this is still a genuinely rapid car, as quick as the old Vanquish but with the relaxed demeanour of a proper GT.
The DB9 always struggled to convince as a GT. You’re saying the 11 is better?
Immeasurably. Aston knows its products have been too similar for too long and the DB11 is the first step to fixing that. So, this same platform will sire a Vanquish replacement that’s more extreme than the current one, and the DB11 becomes more of a proper rounded GT (leaving room in between for another car).
The interior isn’t only beautifully trimmed, as you’d expect, but is now much roomier, both front and back, and far more hushed thanks to grown-up tricks like double-glazed side windows borrowed from the likes of Merc. Some of the kit, like the multimedia system and control wheel, is borrowed directly from Benz – which now owns a 5% stake in Aston.
Sounds good – as long as it handles with a bit more vim than an E220d. This is still an Aston, after all.
And it still feels like one, sort of. The DB11, with its engine up front and gearbox out back, and a torque-tube connecting the two, is a big car – but hides its bulk well. There’s little understeer, and impressive traction on offer from its Bridgestone tyres. Of the three suspension settings summonable via a switch in the steering wheel (there’s another one giving three drivetrain settings), we preferred the middle one, Sport. It seems little worse in terms of ride quality than the basic setting (itself not perfect on harsh transverse impacts), but offers much tighter damping of the Aston’s body movements.
The most obvious change to the way the DB11 drives becomes clear the moment you grasp the wheel – and not because it’s oddly square. We’re a big fan of recent Astons’ beautifully tactile steering, but the DB11 features a new electric rack. While it’s quicker ratio is well judged and it feels accurate enough to let you target your turn in point down to the smallest chunk of tar, the sensations filtering back to your fingers are definitely more damped than before.
According to Matt Becker, ex of Lotus, that was a conscious decision, this being the GT in the range. ‘But we’re fully able to dial back in some of that feeling for more extreme driver focused cars later on,’ he adds.
The quite radically reimagined styling – at the rear, at least, if not the front – will divide opinion, but by almost every objective measure Aston has got the DB11 right. Unlike the DB9, this DB genuinely feels like it could swallow an entire country’s worth of Tarmac in a day. It’s faster, more practical, and it has the technology and refinement to go toe-to-toe with big mainstream GTs like the AMG CL65.
It also feels like it might get through a year of ownership without having to visit a dealer to remedy the ‘bespoke concerns’ that blighted our long-term DB9. So, then, the first new Aston in over a decade has certainly been worth the wait.
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