A special edition Aston, I thought that stuff was reserved for run-out Corsas.
You've got the wrong end of the stick, the Sports Pack is an option for Aston owners who prefer to zoom than dawdle. The DB9 has always been a great looking car but sadly it’s never been as good to drive as to look at. The ride was too crashy for a GT, the throttle too aggressive, it was a handful in the wet and skipped over bumps. This one should be better.
So what’s changed?
Most obviously there are four sexy new alloys. And they don't just look good, they're lighter too, by 1kg each to the benefit of unsprung weight. Even the wheelnuts are serious: they’re made from titanium. Aston reckons that unsprung weight is down five percent per corner. But the biggest changes you mostly can't see, unless you spot the 6mm reduction in ride height. Spring rates are up 68 per cent front, 64 per cent rear, the front anti-roll bar is thicker and the dampers and bump-stops are uprated to suit. Also new is a load-bearing aluminium panel that performs the same job as the old composite undertray but adds further structural stiffness.
Any more power?
No, the standard DB9's 450bhp V12 is unchanged. Sports Pack buyers still get the choice of the six-speed manual Graziano box or the ZF six-speed auto; both will hit 186mph but the manual edges ahead in acceleration, cracking 60mph in 4.9sec, two tenths quicker than the auto. It sounds fantastic from the moment the revs flare up at the press of the starter button and even better when the exhaust valve opens half way up the rev range. The aggressive throttle response of the early auto cars has been tamed and power arrives in one linear push. It feels quick but not savage like a 911 Turbo or Gallardo
Is it any good?
A big improvement. Strangely the ride seems better than the standard DB9's despite the much bigger spring rates and it no longer skips over bumps. There’s still an inescapable sense that this is a big car (it weighs 1700kg) but it turns better and body control is much improved. The steering is light, more feelsome and traction seems better but there's ample power to peel the rear boots away from their chosen line. But if you simply want to dismantle a road, you'd be better of in a 911 Turbo. Which will have the added benefit of probably not breaking down. Granted our test Sports pack car only failed temporarily – waiting a few minutes before attempting a restart magically cured things – but do you really want to tell your significant other that he/she has to get out and help you push a £100K car into the side of the road? We’ve tried it and it definitely doesn't earn you any brownie points.
So what’s it cost?
Ticking the Sports Pack box adds £2495 to the £106,850 costs of a standard DB9. Specifying the auto box pushes up the price by a further £3k.
What's it up against?
Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo, basically the more performance oriented six-figure cars. The Bentley Continental GT, much less satisfying to drive but with an equally strong British name behind it, and similarly swift, is also worth considering. But if you accept that the DB9's rear seats are useless, you could always save yourself £30K and go for its little brother. The better-proportioned V8 Vantage is even better to drive.
Finally the DB9 has the legs to match the face. While £2495 seems like a small price to pay for the resulting dynamic improvement, it's a shame Aston didn't just make this the standard DB9 spec.