Aston Martin isn’t one to shy away from its illustrious and dusty heritage, which is why we’re witnessing the reappearance of not one, but two names from its past on the company’s new DBS Superleggera. Younger readers might remember only the V12-engined DBS of a decade ago, but the name dates back to 1967, when Aston launched a fastback GT designed internally by William Towns to eventually replace the DB6 and top the line-up. In its five-year lifespan, the original DBS received inline-six and V8 power and about 1000 examples were made in total, the reboot of the name in 2008 was rather more successful and now Aston continues the bloodline.
At the same time, the delicate ‘Superleggera’ lettering on the bonnet pays homage to the partnership between Aston and Touring that gave us the DB4, DB5 and DB6. The Milan carrozzeria’s patented Superleggera technique of using aluminium panels over a lightweight frame has been supplanted by carbonfibre body panels, meaning this car may be ‘super light’ but it is not technically Superleggera. Aston also appears to be acting a little tongue in cheek in reviving an Italian name on its British car, one that it makes no bones about wanting to compete with Ferraris 812 Superfast - an Italian reviving an old English model name.
And that’s quite a lofty target, even if there are few others that could be classed as a ‘Super GT’. But Aston isn’t about to enter a horsepower war with Ferraris screaming naturally aspirated V12; instead, the company has developed the new DBS with maximum usable torque to the fore. So, while Aston’s twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 has a useful chunk more power than that in the DB11 AMR (up from 630bhp to 715bhp), peak torque jumps from 516lb ft to 663lb ft. What’s more, that figure is on tap from just 1800rpm all the way around to 5000rpm.
Conventional benchmarks, like the 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds, don’t do justice to the DBS Superleggera and its simply gobsmacking in-gear flexibility. It accelerates from sensible to completely unreasonable speeds in the blink of an eye, pushing you into the gorgeously upholstered sports seats. Really, there’s no reason to use the (enlarged) gearchange paddles for the (uprated to cope with the torque) eight- speed auto, but that would be to deny you the full aural pleasure of this V12. The new quad exhaust is particularly anti-social when Sport+ is selected, with lots of pops and bangs on the overrun and a holy-moly roar when you take a brave pill and hold the throttle all the way down.
But while the DBS Superleggera is, according to its maker, part of the GT family, its chassis has been honed to live with the performance, so the front end is razor- sharp and dependable, body control unimpeachable, steering direct and the brakes almost too responsive. In short, this is a GT designed to be really driven. It may look back fondly at its forebears but, as it accelerates the company towards the future, it’s leaving them all for dust.
Left from top Thrust from the twin-turbo V12 is phenomenal and makes the Aston a real rival to Ferrari’s 812 Superfast.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Engine V12, 5204cc, twin-turbo
Max Power 715bhp @ 5900-6500rpm / DIN nett (metric)
Max Torque 664lbft @ 1800-5000rpm / DIN nett (metric)
Dry Weight 1770kg (410bhp/ton)
Top speed 211mph
Basic price in USA 2018 $265,000
+ Pace, broad spread of talents, ride
- Twitchy rear end, poor visibility, a squeeze on B-roads
Drive-My rating ★★★★☆
Above right: cabin is largely shared with DBS the DB11 and lacks a little of the old Aston-Martin flair. Above: DBS feels big on a B-road. Right: Superleggera badge reflects extensive use of carbonfibre.