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The Grand Tour. Modern performance cars can be so fiendishly complicated that it takes time to really understand them. With so many chassis, engine and transmission settings, and even different modes for the steering and so on, you really need to cover serious distances in a car before you can hope to get properly beneath its skin.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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- Post is under moderation/ #2017 / #Jaguar-F-Type-SVR and #Aston-Martin-DB11 against #BMW-M6-Competition-F13 / #BMW-M6-F13 / #BMW-M6 / #BMW-F13 / #BMW / #Aston-Martin / #Jaguar-F-Type / #Jaguar / #V12 / #V8 / #BMW-M6-Competition /
THREE coupes, THREE CONCEPTS, ONE GOAL
Aston Martin DB11 with biturbo V12, BMW M6 Competition with V8 biturbo and Jaguar F-Type SVR with supercharged V8 engine. Who offers the best mix of everyday and sports?
Three coupe characters Aston Martin DB11 against BMW M6 Competition and Jaguar F-Type SVR
Aston Martin logs in with a 608 bhp GT in the 21st century, Jaguar ignites the extreme version of the F-Type. Bring the pressure wave from England the top dog falter? Text Stefan Helmreich. Photos Hans-Dieter Seufert.
Numbers are the essence of all things, a certain Pythagoras once said. And although I know from bitter experience that it is not advisable to contradict the principles of this gentleman, he seems to be deceiving in this case. For they that say about the nature of these full-size coupes figures only once from nothing.
Actually there are three quite close together: Barely 33 PS separate the weakest, the Jaguar F-Type SVR, the power Croesus, the Aston Martin DB11. In relation to the respective weights, the distance compacted even at a measly tenths kilograms per bhp, the torque maximum of 700 Nm even identical. And in the sprint to 200, the field fanned just on by half a second.
But appearances are deceiving their similarities. And I do not mean the differences in interpretation or driving cylinders, but precisely the essence that is hidden in them.
Let me go back a short: all three are moving in the tension between Gran Turismo and sports cars, however, differ in the direction in which they tend - being objective and goal achieved sometimes drift apart somewhat.
All good things come in threes
Jaguar is the best example. Sometime - long, long time ago - has anyone spent laying the groundwork that the brand urgently need a sports car, a real, real, full-blooded, as that has been in his early years of the E-Type. The first attempt to inherit the brand icon, was the XJS and went straight times properly in the pants - not only sporting aspects. And the various XK, which took on the thankless task in the sequence, sinking quite fast and quite rule-moderately in the large footsteps. Although they were sometimes wonderful Gran Turismo, but the long-awaited sports car could be even by force not squeeze out of them.
What was the result? It has scrapped the whole thing again, refocused and re-sent on the same mission - this time as a F-Type. He was wild, radical, louder than anything before, which relieved him immediately each GT suspicion. However, he got a bit difficult - at least as measured by those to whom he emulated. Straight this disadvantage with the compressor motors let compensate fine, curves but he put his life on, so that the hope of finally did it, scattered over again shortly before the finish. A shot you still: The final stage of escalation of the F-Type, the SVR, you want to squeeze every last ounce of missing now. And in contrast to the former RS models of the XK that could little more than their respective base, and the few little better, he will also find the right stuff.
A matter of choice
At BMW, the situation is quite different. It's not about skill, but about will. Since M1 anno 1978 it steadfastly refuses at M to build a sports car, but the principle mastered so well that always arise which. The M4 GTS has his qualification in this regard only repeatedly demonstrated - around time as well as handling. And also the M6 got but much sportier than it really should go with his physical disposition - though not from birth. He came as a beast to the world, as one of those adorable contemporaries, the same wild with the stern capsized when they were caught at the wrong time with the gas. but step by step they brought him then Manners.
Only with the refinements of the optional Competition Kit, which in addition to the mandatory power boost to 600 hp and recalibrations in chassis and control electronics. And later with a profoundly modified rear axle, which is now far more lateral acceleration can withstand under load than its counterpart in the early days.
Such ripening has the DB11 still to come. He is the chick of the British manufacturer, the successor to the most successful Aston Martin of all time and practically doomed to be the one day itself. The internal pressure to succeed is enormous, but here he has little to lose. Because, unlike the other two, who arrived with SVR respectively our Competition version already at the top of their respective evolution, it defines the starting point here, a Vanquish and possibly also an S model will arise from the upcoming years in the.
Accordingly, it must be a little air upwards and therefore bends in raised tension decidedly in the direction of Gran Turismo. Now this concept has been unfortunately hard hit in recent years affected: by bloated MPVs who abused his initials, by dramatically overweight Nobel movables with misguided self-assessment or by the fact that it mistakenly those tacked him, who had just not made for sports cars - as a kind of consolation prize, if you will.
But it GT yet!
The DB11 introduces the concept GT now back to its original purpose. And which is located almost exactly in the middle between the ultimate performance and pure pleasure. Or else: He sees himself as golden ratio of dynamics and transparency - said one must restrict the other at any time or even to exclude. Even if he attacked a decent GT is never aggressive, yet he remains focused even in complete relaxation - and this balancing act they get.
For what we hold here with him, the DB11 is not provided. On the other hand, are its dynamic driving conditions but also too good to him to celebrate on his ravishing body, his charisma or the facts that the leather wallpaper of its interior so wonderful spicy scent and comes exclusively from Scottish beef critters. Rear axle, torque vectoring function, drive parts made of carbon, transaxle gearbox plus a specially developed V12 twin turbo with 608 hp, which had to completely move out of balance reasons behind the front axle - sorry, but as no one dislocated along schmaltz only the Corniche want.
Unlike BMW and Jaguar understatement for him is the primary objective. Its exhaust system he is wearing a double-flow, while the other four pipes stretching through their diffusers; the aerodynamic measures is reflected largely under the Alukleids place like the F-Type SVR as a prominent Arschgeweih on top; and unlike the vast majority in its power league, the only times barking early in the morning when starting the half settlement out of bed, you can - I repeat, one can - also start the Aston softly. In short: He is concerned with the right mix of discretion, power and style and the right dose for all.
And that can be found complicated. The DB9, its predecessor, do on any. His Fanfare never corresponded with the ballad handling; the counter dials forgot sheer attention to detail that they were primarily displays; and also the former starting ceremony, in which slid a key sculpture in the center console, had - considered by far - most recently been very fake.
Modern Art instead Baroque
Him here you now sustainable. The start is quite profane touch of a button, what an Aston Martin far is despicable; the instrument shaft inserted a display that animates itself in accordance with the driving modes, but this appears not to unadorned yet too shrill; Infotainment and assistance scheme based on the technology of substance partner Mercedes-AMG, work worlds better than the patchwork of old, but by no means the British; and also the driving experience acts despite the traditional Aston flairs clear, modern and above all sporty.
Deeper seating position, more space inside, a steering system that leaves plenty of road feel through its electric motor, and to top the style safety of the engine, of just not flooded the natural violence of its 5.2-liter displacement with turbo boost, but including lifts him very gently. In approach him of Jaguar compressor may indeed come off as above out of the irrepressible will of the BMW Biturbo, but in between, where 700 Nm weighed, creates a particularly evocative chapter locomotion.
Rowdy, volcano, natural spectacle
we accelerate by three times. The F-Type is torn from its torque downright from the spot, the M6 it erupts as-expanded magma from the , in Aston, however it is carried away by him - tender, but strong kind, almost as if a a balmy breeze enter with the strength of a hurricane. And this airiness also radiates on driving behavior. Everything is precise and exact, are the transverse acceleration contour, but rather weaves a the road along, instead of really getting entangled with him.
The amazing thing: Despite the Aston is fully in the music. With steel discs he thwarts the ceramic plants of BMW and Jaguar in the warm-measurements; with 4.0 seconds to 100 lacks only three-tenths to four-wheel drive and 90 kilos lighter F-Type SVR; and even on the small track in Hockenheim, the long Haubern is not really tailored to its angular layout of the body, he does gymnastics with perk.
The body movements are perhaps a bit too expansive for the big sports, both under braking and cornering - but we remember: dynamics and permeability must indeed always be consistent. And even if this circumstance it certainly does not help significantly to inhibit it seems him any more. His three-stage suspension shears the 4.75-meter-coupe with energetic elegance into the corner, the centrifugal force also holds steadfastly stood increasing load to the rear when it the Bridgestones but is too much to vibrate slightly - of course without liability would thereby demolish too abrupt or even welding palms.
Two things, however, are to be considered: First, the V12 responds very deaf in short gas pulses - the scurrying what some like to do when they spy along exactly at the limit, so fizzles easy. Secondly, one must keep the brake in the eye. They wedged the of 1900 kilos basically very confident in the braking zones, during the rounds of their pressure point moves but deeper into the pedal back, which is a clear indication of overexertion. At the end of the DB11 listed yet a good lap time of 1.13,6 min. That will be on the M6 bottom line seven tenths behind, given the differences in the orientation that is less defeat than victory.
The BMW is the DB11 conceptually not unlike: transversely locked rear wheel drive, stately curb weight, almost equally distributed axle loads - but it turns out differently over. Technocratic, richer, more ambitious. The 4.4-liter V8 rumbles far darker than the orchestral high rotational fanfare of Aston V12, the dual clutch transmission by hitting the speed bands, while more zurechtschnibbelt the eight-stage automatic in DB11, and instead to latch with a loose leash on the racing line, zurrt the M6 tightly to her right - and its pilots with the same. Where the characteristics of the points of contact - so the steering, damping and response - let each taut again separately.
Consequence: While the DB11 in the sharpest suspension program becoming a little game lets between action and reaction, is in both M6 at very closely. Whether that is so much atmospheric? Hard to say, but it is dynamic in any case.
Although the projection on the track not quite so serious failure, as he seems to be - or as it could be. Because this M6 Competition not quite reached its proper level: fifteenth him missing on their previous record. Feel? Search! On handling per se nothing falls on, certainly not negative. The steering link an extremely directly to the front wheels, hooked it to his Michelins stable in curves, while the chassis always dodging with success against an unhealthy degree of rolling and pitching movements - which is a real achievement for the strand. Watching you just under braking. If one is late, the device ABS stumble, and the cargo straight - this is certainly not a predicate feature, but also nothing new at M6 and thus hardly the reason behind the gently sloping lap time.
It depends elsewhere, namely when accelerating, in the literal sense. Actually, the M6's born powerslider earlier - as I said - very excessive, since the update of the rear axle in a very healthy level. This one here seems however to block the cross-drive, artificial, as if there were something below the disconnectable ESP, a safety leash that limits the release of torque as a function of the steering angle.
Already in M4 GTS this phenomenon noticed and also the M4 Competition moving drove curve exit of not as rampant as the basic model. The difference: Both benefited in the driveability and ultimately in the lap time because the system - if it is a because - almost like a racing ESP acted and a spotless along regulated at the edge of the sliding friction. however, the M6 concentrated this restriction in its possibilities. She reaches too early and too strong, so especially after Sachs and South Bend are time remains - exactly where else you fetch the odd tenth with about buttocks.
Well, the first thought was after that, a pity, but what can happen to large. The Aston he holds still in check, and the Jaguar will be equal to it because of the little house tuning by the Special Vehicle Operators not equal over the head.
Whipped cream on a Creampot
Especially since the SVR at first not great touches unlike its origin, the F-Type R AWD - apart from the fluff of many Alcantara times. The streamlined and stiffened suspension like something defined compared in turmoil; and also the steering keeps the front wheels now neatly laid, instead depending on steering angle sometimes more, sometimes less loose on them.
The lightweight efforts with Din gen as carbon fiber body parts or a silencer made of titanium covered but just like the power push-up too low in order to be really noticeable. 25 hp and 20 Nm more at - in this particular case - seven kilos less measured on a 550-hp, over 1800 kilo base in about as if you klecksen whipped cream on a vat full of cream and then the handle made of jelly cherry on top pluck.
Anyway only bring benefits to light measurements: With 3.7 seconds SVR rages to 100 not only the standard model of the four needed at that time smooth. The competitors look for its traction advantage rather in the tube. In the further course of his Sprint projection remains though largely constant, the perceived speed increase is compared to Aston and BMW but again a whole Eck massive.
This is connected with the fulminating V8 downright a motor. The compact body plays a role, especially since they are not quite as caring forecloses to the outside world as the other two. Above all, it is the sound that makes the difference and was even again with the wire brush for the SVR. Drunken antics during tempering, tinny bubbling with light gas commands, blocking fiery crackle in kickdown, when shifting and when decelerating - in daily life like walking properly on my nerves. Is the mood, it is - with respect - just awesome.
Humor takes ballyhoo
Ever the Jag distanced quite clear from his four-seater colleagues. In the external representation anyway, but also in driving behavior. He does not look as tired as the BMW, not quite as casual as the Aston Martin, but more flexible than the two - and as many others. Already in the slalom, he can sit up, so goes in Hockenheim some hearing and seeing then completely.
So far, the track was not his thing. The rear-wheel drive, it failed simply because of the traction at the wheel learning at play with strength distribution and torque vectoring, which simply would not work. One always had the feeling that a system does not know what the other was doing, so you always between understeer and oversteer back and hertaumelt. The driving pleasure that arose from it had, in any case more to do with slapstick.
In SVR he is now, however, to British humor - from the very finest sort. With him fits everything at once. When turning, when pulled on the brake direction curve, he drallt into with Effet; on the way out accelerating the drive always finds the right balance of grip and slide; and even in between, in the curve where it takes a clump the musculoskeletal system in comparison rather top-heavy weight distribution, it moves extremely agile, found thanks to the wider tires now better grip - and yet remains playable for driving skills interventions.
One can constantly readjust him him in the steering, where you want to have him, and tickle when required with the gas in the seat - intuitively and without having to be afraid of. Straight tearing the F-Type down, he always was very good, but instead in curves as far, he twirls now through them.
And although Cat associations prohibit due to its inflationary use in Jaguar stories actually: He and the ideal line are actually as Miezi and wool yarn. The best part: This playfulness inspires him to excel. 1.11,4 min! Guys, this is a half seconds faster than the BMW, the clear test victory and finally the successful completion of a never-ending mission - who would have still thought it possible?
But not only Jaguar has reason to celebrate. Aston Martin also manages an impressive comeback: The DB11 is a formidable GT, which is currently only true, the M6 Competition to too much is not missing so - neither on the track in the points balance. Only one stinks about it: That this Pythagoras was right again with one of his sentences - as earlier in the math exam. Even if numbers may not be the essence of these three defining here, their traits, they underscore definitely.
This time there are two surprises: one gives the Aston Martin DB11, which slips into the lee of a certainly not immovable M6 Competition thanks to a sparkling clean suspension tuning, his lustful V12 engine and athletic handling - and still all guidelines of Gran Turismo fulfilled. Surprise number two succeed the Jaguar: Again and again, the F-Type had to listen that he was a wonderful car, barbarian sword, abartig next go, bla, bla, bla. And in the end always came the big But. This time, however, he rake in 77 points from our vote disciplines, which is only slightly less than a Porsche 991 Carrera GTS - and thus absolute sports car, without any ifs, and above all with no buts!
High feelings The BMW are accustomed defines Jaguar created a curve acrobats while the DB11 manages a mix of drama and ecstasy.
LADIES AND GENTS, THE F-TYPE SVR buzzing THE M6 1.5 SECONDS - THAT WOULD HE DONE, THE JAGUAR SPORTS CAR!
THE ASTON WEBT TO THE ROAD DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE M6 zurrt UP TO IT FINDS THE F-TYPE IS DANCING HIM dizzy
Power Palace Of Kitsch and Stone Age technology freed consist location loft with picturesque furniture and madness views over the V12 level.
Designer apartment Stylish device, perfect ergonomics, generous cut, high-tech equipment, including newly renovated infotainment system.
Ruckus box Cavernous Stay with impressive, sometimes pesky exhaust soundscape and occasional SVR souvenirs.
Aston Martin aesthetic can not be measured, but see. The love of art is in every detail, even the tires bear the service number of a customer.
Jaguar The warning Blue perfused the seats and attacks with proper treatment, the titanium exhaust system. The wing makes 322kph top speed.
BMW The Frenetic when revving remains unmatched in this class, but the clumsy ABS control its ceramic brakes throwing the M6 regrettably back.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDB11 – 1500 MILES New V12 Aston Martin v Europe
Aston Martin asked evo to deliver its new DB11 to the car’s international launch in Tuscany. Naturally, we took the long way. Words By Henry Catchpole. Photography By Dean Smith Ain’t no mountain…
DRIVEN: ASTON MARTIN DB11
How best to get to know Aston Martin’s new 600bhp GT car? A 1500-mile road-trip should do it
From the first turn of the wheel, this feels like a different Aston Martin. The knurled rim is familiar as I go clockwise for ‘N’, then anticlockwise for ‘E’ before heading back through the rotational clicks like a navigational safe-cracker for ‘W’. It’s just so much easier to use than any Aston before. Of course, I’m not talking about the steering wheel here (we’ll get to that in a bit), but rather the much smaller, more circular item perched on the transmission tunnel between the seats.
Peel away the beautiful brogue leather and you’ll now find a Mercedes system underneath much of the switchgear in this new Aston, but any thoughts that this imported technology might demean the ambience of an Aston couldn’t be further from the truth. I haven’t even started the engine yet and the DB11 already feels like it is going to be good company over the next two days.
I’m currently sitting in the car park outside Aston HQ at Gaydon. Daniel Ricciardo was the first person I saw on arrival (he really does seem to smile all the time) and I’ve just seen Max Verstappen head out in a Lagonda because The Future was unveiled this afternoon in the slinky shape of the AM-RB 001. Clearly the two F1 drivers are happy about the association. But while Adrian Newey’s vision for science fact isn’t due until 2018, the DB11 is very much ready now and its big international launch is due to start in a few days’ time down in Tuscany. This example needs to be there too, and we have the key, so we’re going to do a bit of a grand tour, firstly because this is a new Aston, and secondly because if the ’11 lives up to its GT credentials, a road-trip should be a walk in the park.
I add in a ‘P’ and then select Newport Pagnell from the list. They say every journey starts with a single step and the 50 miles to Aston Martin’s traditional home certainly seem like a small hop when set against the 1360 miles we need to cover by Thursday evening. However, as well as giving the DB11 a brief history lesson, these first few miles will give me the chance to try the car on a couple of familiar roads.
The Emotion Control Unit has been consigned to Aston history and there is now just a large keyless key that you can keep in your pocket. On the dash is a row of five glass buttons labelled P, R, Start, N and D, and the middle one glows red as I stretch a finger towards it. What it summons is a new all-alloy, quad-overhead-cam, 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12. Developed by Aston Martin itself, it has 600bhp and 516lb ft of torque and is more powerful than any previous Aston road-car engine apart from the One-77’s naturally aspirated 7.3-litre V12. Yes, it should be very good company.
The really good stretches of bumpy B-road on the way to Newport Pagnell aren’t long, but they do reveal some interesting facets of the DB11. For a start, there is a surprising length to the suspension travel. This means the DB11 cushions the lumps but sacrifices a little bit of instant precision as it moves through that travel on turn-in. Over bigger hits, even in its firmest setting, the damping doesn’t always control the car completely on the rebound, so it can take a couple of movements to settle. However, the other thing that’s very obvious is that the balance of the DB11 is spot on. Despite a certain remoteness, you still feel in touch with the road, too. Interesting.
I park the DB11 on Tickford Street while photographer Dean Smith and I decide how to blend traditional Aston with 21st-century Aston. It’s fun watching the few workers leaving the Aston Martin Lagonda Works building do a double-take as they walk past.
There’s lots of the One-77 in the DB11’s design and I love the way the waist of the car seems to nip in and then the rear arches flare out. The rear of the car in particular is very distinctive and the C-pillar, with its integrated AeroBlade intake, has a little bit of BMW i8 about it (and also a hint of new Vauxhall Astra, but I won’t mention that). Lift up the beautiful clamshell bonnet and you can see the slatted wheelarch covers that relieve the high-pressure area around the wheels, the air escaping through a facsimile of the Vulcan’s bold side-strake.
We spot a ’70s Vantage wearing a brown paintjob called Cardigan Metallic (seriously) and our old-meets-new vision is captured, so Dean and I head head off for the Eurotunnel terminal where we consume a Burger King, see a lot of excited Welsh football fans and finally board a train at about 10pm. Once on the other side we head for Lille, as Brussels is always best avoided, and eventually find a glamorous Ibis Budget hotel that looks as though it was modelled on an uncomfortable open prison.
We reconvene at 6AM and set the satnav for our first stop of the day, just north of Stuttgart. Belgian motorways are poor, but the DB11 shows its ability to cosset on this leg of the journey. The attractive, slightly square steering wheel has a button on its right-hand spar that changes the engine and gearbox characteristics, while mirroring it on the left-hand spar is a button for the suspension. Three modes can be cycled through with each button – GT, Sport and Sport Plus – and this morning is very much a GT sort of morning. You can really feel that relaxed, long-travel suspension breathing with the road through the bigger dips. There’s something quite Rolls-Royce about it.
The seats deserve real praise, too. Their shape is slim and the padding doesn’t look like the sort that will overly mollycoddle a posterior, but they definitely work. Even Dean, a man who seems to have a spine more delicate than a daisy chain, is full of praise.
We clear Belgium, then Luxembourg, and finally, mid-morning, the DB11 has a chance to stretch its legs in Germany. Unsurprisingly, at this time of day there’s never a clear enough stretch of Autobahn to get near the Aston’s claimed top speed of 200mph, but frequent forays in the region of 170mph are easy. Just moseying along, covering ground at 100mph feels good, and the DB11 feels reassuringly stable, never tense or twitchy.
One thing that bugs a little are the brakes. The big steel discs feel great when you’re stopping hard, but when you want to just brush the middle pedal, you have to go through quite a bit of pedal travel before you get a reaction, as though the pads are set some way from the discs. Odd.
We branch off north of Stuttgart and head out into the countryside to a small town with a big industrial estate. The last time I came to Affalterbach, home of AMG, the company had only recently been bought-out by Mercedes, and it seems to have expanded almost beyond recognition since then. Smart, angular new buildings litter Benzstrasse and Maybachstrasse and I keep catching glimpses of the DB11’s sleek profile in big, mirrored windows. We spot a new E63 estate in camouflage and a white GT R looking like the ideal wheels for a stormtrooper. There’s also someone’s Porsche 928 ‘RS’ project car, resplendent in what looks like Nogaro Blue.
In addition to Mercedes’ contributions to the DB11’s interior, the next Vantage will be getting the 4-litre turbo V8 developed here at AMG. At first I was uneasy at the thought of the tie-up, as the two marques seemed unlikely bedfellows, but I’m a big fan of the AMG V8 and I’m now just intrigued to see how Aston will put it to use.
Amazingly, no one shoos us away when we park outside the main AMG entrance, but we can’t linger for long and we’re soon pushing on for the Swiss border. We hit Zürich at rush hour but that reveals two very different aural delights. The first is a white GT3 RS that treats us to all of first gear and a bit of second. Lovely.
The second is from the Aston and happens at every set of traffic lights. As well as cylinder deactivation, the DB11 also has stop/start, and every time the big V12 spins back into life it does so with a wonderfully theatrical highpitched flourish from the starter motor that reminds me of a Lamborghini Aventador.
We’re racing the light as we reach Andermatt and the base of two passes. The way to Italy is over the Gotthard, but we’re taking a detour and instead heading up the Furka. The reason can be found about halfway up on the eastern side, where a small green sign marks the spot of possibly the most famous Aston Martin photograph of all time. The road has changed a little since 1964, so a replica of the shot isn’t possible today. Also, I look nothing like as insouciantly cool as Sean Connery did in Goldfinger, but the DB11 would make a very stylish modern stand-in for a DB5. As it’s a final pre-production car, it’s even got a big red ejector seat (alright, engine kill switch) button hidden in the centre storage area.
The real reason for coming here is that the Furka is fantastic to drive. It’s narrow and bumpy at first, which doesn’t really suit this Aston. It copes, but it just doesn’t feel very settled. As we race higher, chasing the sinking sun, however, the road becomes much more DB11-friendly. As the tarmac gets wider and smoother, so the DB11 begins to really flow.
With the road allowing the car to sit more calmly onto its suspension, you’re free to enjoy the beautiful balance that the chassis has. Ever since we left Gaydon I’ve been wondering where the button for the ESP is. And one last search through the menus finally reveals that if you select Settings, then Assistance, then ESP in the screen to the right of the rev-counter, you have three options to choose from – On, Off or Track. The big, wide hairpins of the Furka are crying out for a bit of sideways fun and the DB11 is happy to oblige. You need to wait until late in the corner, when the road is flattening away from the apex, otherwise the LSD will still allow the inside wheel to spin too much, but be patient and DB11 slides beautifully. It feels very smooth over the limit and you seem to have plenty of time in the slides.
The ZF eight-speed ’box is occasionally a little petulant on our pre-production car. Especially on part or light throttle openings it sometimes thumps or jolts, but at speed it’s faultless and given we’ve never had any issues with the usually silky-smooth gearbox in any other application, we’ll put that down to preproduction calibration issues for now.
With alpenglow spreading over the distant peaks and the temperature plummeting, we head back up to the summit of the pass and past the Belvedere Hotel (which looks like something out of a Wes Anderson movie) before stopping to make the most of the view and the light. Part of me wonders whether we should push on over the Gotthard towards Milan tonight, but in the end we head into Andermatt and find a bar and hotel attached to a petrol station. Despite the late hour, they even serve us two huge bowls of spaghetti and a couple of large Weissbier. In the background a television is showing Wales sadly losing to Portugal. It seems a long time ago that we saw the fans at the tunnel.
At 6.30 the following morning, with perfect blue skies above, we open up the swan doors once more and head for the Gotthard. I’m glad we waited for the light, because it is a truly spectacular pass and one I’ve never driven before, although I recognise the incredible hairpins on stilts from a story that appeared in evo 035 with a Zonda C12S. The road is even wider and faster than anything on the Furka, but it also feels a bit more mainstream. The original road is still visible in the shade off to the side, and looks like it was zigzagged onto the mountain by a giant Mr Whippy machine, so we drop down to investigate. Apart from a lone marmot, it’s deserted, but there’s a reason – the whole thing is cobbled. Deciding that it’s better viewed from afar, we head back to the main road in the sunshine and descend through a couple of open-sided avalanche tunnels, past a military barracks, and on towards the next border.
At school there was always a sense of relief when the bell went for the end of a lesson with a particularly strict teacher, and I always get the same sensation when I leave the draconian road rules of Switzerland behind and cross into Italy. To celebrate, we stop at a service station and hand over a paltry amount of money for two deliciously thick espressos. Italian petrol stations might be some of the grottiest in Europe, but without fail they always do some of the best coffee you’ll taste anywhere. It’s as Italian as Ferrari. Talking of which…
We couldn’t not drop into Maranello. The place gets more touristy with every visit, yet you can’t help but love it. We cruise up to the back gates on Via Musso in case anything wearing a ‘Prova’ plate is about to leave, but it’s all quiet on the testing front. We do get lucky on Via Marsala though. This small street backs onto the Fiorano circuit and although Ferrari has tried to stop people watching through the fence, it’s still possible. No one’s there when we arrive but 30 seconds later we hear an amazing sound and soon people are flocking.
I’ve never really understood the Corse Clienti programme, but seeing an ex-Gerhard Berger 412 T2 from 1995, I ache to have a go. It was Ferrari’s last F1 V12 and the 3-litre engine sends all sorts of emotions fizzing into the hairs on the back of your neck.
Over a pizza later (go to Pizzeria Mirage on Via Claudia, a little bit away from the factory), Dean and I ponder what the Ferrari rival to a DB11 would be. At £155k the Aston is, relatively speaking, cheap, but the interior feels right up there with anything Ferrari has. It’s much more of a GT than an F12 and not as thrilling as a result, but it’s more enjoyably driveable than a GTC4 Lusso (although the rear seats in the Aston are merely token efforts, albeit with Isofix).
Stupefyingly full of mozzarella, we restore some sort of metabolic balance with another espresso and set off on the last stretch to Tuscany. A couple of hours later we’re amongst stereotypical cypress trees and rolling farmland north of Siena, and my opinion of the DB11 is crystallising. We go through three different sizes of road in relatively quick succession and its obvious where the Aston is happiest. The smallest, bumpiest roads with corners coming thick and fast are not the right hunting ground, with the big Aston never really recovering composure between each bump and change of direction. The big engine never has a chance to get into its stride, either.
Step up to something smoother with a white line down the middle and the DB11 is surprisingly adept. You can lean on the front end in tighter corners to the point where you hear the tyres chirrup and yet it never washes out. The big punch of torque, which feels at its most potent around 4000rpm, allows you to work the rear wheels through corners easily, too. Track mode for the ESP also works very well, giving you plenty of slip before it intervenes, and when you throw in surprisingly quick steering and brake-based torque vectoring to help on turn-in, it means this big, 1770kg car can really be hustled.
Where the DB11 feels at its absolute best, however, is in quick, smooth corners. The final run to our destination has long straights linked with fast bends that can be lined up with perfect sight lines. Down the straights the DB11 hauls as well as you’d expect, piling on speed in great, thrilling strides. Although there’s no denying that the turbocharged engine isn’t the sort of V12 where you feel the need to hang on for the limiter, under load the raucous exhaust note still sounds unmistakably Aston. In the fast corners you really get to enjoy the manner in which the DB11 works its chassis and the beautiful way you can feel the car move as you get on the throttle from early in the corner. Even at speed it’s so nicely balanced that a little bit of oversteer feels very natural.
Aston wants its new generation of cars (of which the DB11 is the first) to be distinct from each other. This is meant to be the GT in the range and it fulfils that role extremely well. It means it suffers in some areas, but that doesn’t matter so much because it’s got clarity of purpose. And if you want proof of what a good GT car it is, as we arrive at the launch venue, Dean and I genuinely talk about just turning around and driving the 1360 miles straight back to Gaydon instead of flying. I still rather wish we had.
TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #Aston-Martin-DB11 / #Aston-Martin
Engine #V12 , 5204cc, twin-turbo CO2 333g/km
Power 600bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque 516lb ft @ 1500-5000rpm
Transmission Eight-speed automatic #ZF8HP , rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential, ESC
Front suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
Brakes Ventilated discs, 400mm front, 360mm rear, ABS, EBD, torque vectoring
Wheels 9 x 20in front, 11 x 20in rear
Tyres 225/40 ZR20 front, 295/35 ZR20 rear
Weight (dry) 1770kg
Power-to-weight (dry) 344bhp/ton
0-62mph 3.9sec (claimed)
Top speed 200mph (claimed)
Basic price £154,900
On sale Now
Evo rating: 5+
‘This is meant to be the GT in Aston’s new-generation range and it fulfils that role extremely well’
Clockwise from above: 5.2-litre V12 has a pair of turbos and is Aston’s first turbocharged production-car engine; TFT dials a slick juxtaposition in an otherwise traditional cabin; seats are fabulously comfortable for long stretches; steering-wheel control adjusts engine and gearbox settings.
Below: the DB11 ghosts past the entrance to Ferrari in Maranello. It’s much more of a relaxed GT car than the £241,000, 730bhp F12 Berlinetta built here.
‘I’m glad we waited for the light, because the Gotthard is a truly spectacular pass’
Opposite page: the introduction of Mercedessourced switchgear is good news for the DB11’s interior.
Top right: Mercedes and AMG will have even closer links to Aston Martin in future models.
‘Under load the raucous exhaust note still sounds unmistakably Aston’
Below: Aston Martin Lagonda Heritage workshop at Gaydon is the first stop on our journey south; 1970s V8 Vantage parked outside shares some lines with the new DB11, even though the two are otherwise worlds apart.
‘I haven’t even started the engine yet and the DB11 already feels like it is going to be good company’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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