Aston Martin’s future is here. As important as the DB4 and the DB9 once were – perhaps even more so – the DB11 pioneers a new seven-car range. Words David Lillywhite. / #Aston-Martin-DB11
We make no apologies for featuring the DB11 again. This is the first full drive of a production car, a car that brings in a critical new era for Aston Martin. It’s arguably the most important car in the company’s history, because the design and technology behind it will form the basic of another six new models, and – assuming it’s successful – it will financially support the last three of those new models.
Everything has gone into this. It’s still pure Aston Martin in looks but a clear step forward – and in technology terms it’s a massive move on from the current range. The new all-alloy sub-structure uses more pressings than the outgoing VH architecture, with added alloy castings to further enhance its strength and versatility. Within virtually the same exterior dimensions as the DB9, an extra 65mm in the wheelbase and more efficient use of space means there’s significantly more leg and head room both front and rear. The engine is an all-new 600bhp twin-turbo V12, the transaxle the same ZF eight-speed auto, and the electrical architecture is sourced from Daimler.
Aston wants there to be more distinction between each model in the range, which meant enhancing the DB11’s GT characteristics. So improved comfort, more relaxed behaviour at high speed and a better ride at any speed were all high on the wish-list. That it’s more civilised is clear from the first push on the ‘crystal’ key starter, because there’s now a soft-start pushand- hold option to mute the exhaust on startup. Fear not, however: the neighbour-baiting exhaust flare is still there on a standard start.
It’s equally clear that the ride is smoother than the DB9’s, less prone to jiggling over rough surfaces, while the exhaust rumbles subtly above the faint whirr of the transmission. Definitely quieter than the DB9. The steering feels more fluid, though ironically it’s now electrically assisted rather than hydraulic, and the brakes are wonderfully progressive.
Through the corners it’s precise but not razor-sharp in the softest ‘GT’ mode, a trade-off of the GT character, and every now and again the test car would lurch slightly mid-corner as if the rear dampers were overwhelmed. It was such a subtle effect that five seconds later you’d wonder if it really happened – but it did, and ex-Lotus handling guru Matt Becker said later at the press launch that software engineers were on their way to tweak out the behaviour.
A flick of the suspension mode switch into Sport mode eliminates the ‘lurch’ with only the smallest compromise to the ride, the engineers deliberately avoiding the tooth-rattling firmness of previous Sport settings. If you want that, there’s Sport-Plus, best left for the track.
There’s nothing about the DB11 that’s not an improvement on the DB9, and that includes the interior, which is even more exquisite. And of course the DB11 is quicker: 200mph and 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds. Retailing at £154,900, it signals an exciting new era for Aston Martin.
Top and above. No rear spoiler to corrupt the lines thanks to new AeroBlade aerodynamic technology; interior is a huge step on from DB9’s; all-new aluminium structure.