2016's most wanted: 8) Aston Martin DB11, CAR+ December 2015

Published: 15 November 2015

► 2016's most wanted cars: #8 Aston Martin DB11
► Mercedes influence, a couple of turbochargers
► There's room for a V8 model too, based on AMG motor 

The first proper new Aston in a decade

Drum roll please: Aston Martin’s comeback coupe, the DB11, is our most anticipated car of 2016. Aston has a new boss in ex-Nissan exec Andy Palmer, a supplier partnership with Mercedes-AMG, fresh funding, and in March, it’ll all come together in the new flagship. The good news is that this DB11 will continue with the rumbling, Ford-built V12, but massively overhauled. It’ll be downsized in capacity to improve economy and emissions, but twin-turbochargers will increase power to beyond 600bhp. 

There’ll be a V8 model, too 

The Mercedes link comes good with the addition of a secondary V8 variant to the DB11 range, using a version of the potent 4.0-litre twin-turbo found in the AMG GT. Too few cylinders for a cross-continental Grand Tourer? Not if the searing performance of the AMG GTS is anything to go by. And broadening the power and pricing scale of the range can only open the DB11 up to a wider customer base. All those 911 variants never did Porsche any harm…

Electrics by Germany

As part of the Daimler tie-up the DB11 uses Mercedes’ electrical architecture. That’ll mean Aston’s sat-nav and infotainment is dragged out of the dark ages, and opens up possibilities for digital instrumentation, connectivity and driver aids. Wiring harnesses are crucial to the user experience but costly and time-consuming for a low-volume sports car maker, so it’s a smart move to short-circuit the process. The tie-up is evident in the S-class switchgear transplanted into prototypes: these will become bespoke buttons in the finished car. 

Test mule gives away DB11’s wider track. We expect a handling masterclass

But it’s still very much an Aston

Beneath the surface you’ll find a highly-evolved development of Aston’s bonded aluminium ‘VH’ architecture. Prototypes spied on test sport a wider track, all the better for handling agility, and to make more room for less agile occupants. It bodes well that ex-Lotus dynamics guru Matt Becker is in charge of DB11 sign-off.  Expect composites to feature in the DB11’s construction, using lessons learned in the Vantage GT12 and Vulcan to slash kerbweight.  

It’ll move Aston’s styling forwards

Unlike DBS, Virage and Vanquish before it, DB11 isn’t yet another minor development of the still-beautiful but long-pensionable DB9. So the styling will be a conscious departure from DB9, albeit a careful one. James Bond’s DB10 is, of course, previewing elements of the design on cinema screens nationwide, particularly in the body surfacing. That Spectre car is one of the reasons why the new Aston will be badged DB11, but it’s also to denote a stepchange in Aston’s development. There’s precedent here: there was never an Aston DB8.  When DB9 replaced DB7, it was just as beautiful, yet profoundly more modern and broader in ability. History repeating? Let’s hope so.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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