Hailed as Aston’s most important car to date, the DB11 flagship plays the aristocrat and sounds theatrical
ASTON Martin’s new DB11 flagship looks every bit the supermodel in the flesh, from its muscular rear haunches to its unmistakeably aristocratic nose. It oozes drama — a modern take on classic proportions.
But while good looks will get buyers through the door, the driving experience needs to seal the deal in an increasingly busy supercar market, especially when you’re asking $428,032 plus on-roads.
Aston boss Andy Palmer calls it “the most important car in the company’s 103-year existence” and, on paper, the DB11’s credentials are strong.
Its monster bi-turbo V12 puts out similar power to last year’s Bathurst 1000 winner. On its flanks and rear, a revolutionary new technique adds downforce without a spoiler.
Ex-Lotus suspension guru Matt Becker has tuned the ride and handling, the chassis is aluminium and Aston has raided the Mercedes-Benz parts bin for electrical components and infotainment technology.
But the proof is in the driving. The minute you hit the start button and fire up the sweetsounding V12, the DB11 makes an emotional connection .
ON THE ROAD
That initial excitement is tempered somewhat by the fact that the Aston isn’t in its element in the city. The cabin isn’t exactly whisper quiet and the engine never sounds as if it’s cruising along happily in traffic, whirring away in the background.
The first sign of freeway though and it begins to warm to the task of grand tourer. The eight-speed conventional auto shifts imperceptibly when you’re cruising but the second you plant the accelerator, it rapidly picks the right gear for maximum forward propulsion. A Porsche with a double-clutch gearbox would be quicker shifting but the Aston’s silky smooth job is a perfect match for touring.
The engine — with 447kW/ 700Nm — is simply epic. It shoves you hard in the back at the first touch of the pedal. And the strong surge of grunt shows no sign of petering out at any speed, let alone the legal limit.
The soundtrack is equally intoxicating. It doesn’t have the deep-throated gurgle and snapcrackle-pop theatrics of an AMG engine, nor does it sing in the higher reaches of the rev range like a Ferrari, but it has a magic all of its own, especially when the throttle blips automatically under brakes into a corner.
It’s also impressively efficient. When cruising, it will shut down one bank of cylinders to conserve fuel. On the freeway we saw mid 9.0L/100km; spirited driving nudged it up to the mid-14s.
Impressive as it is, the engine plays second fiddle to the DB11’s chassis. Weighing nearly two tonnes with a couple of people and fuel on-board, it feels much lighter through the bends.
Push too hard into tight corners and the nose will run wide. The bum will wriggle if you’re too enthusiastic with the throttle coming out of them — but for the most part it feels incredibly well-balanced and supremely planted, with phenomenal grip.
The steering is light but gives plenty of feedback — even if the wheel is a weird square shape —— and the brakes are strong and resist fade on long downhill runs.
The DB11 also has one of the more impressive chassis adjustment set-ups. In GT mode, it soaks up bumps and lumps and the transmission slurs through the gears. Step it up a notch to sport and the suspension feels a lot better tied down, while the shifts are more urgent.
Sport plus delivers more violent shifts and more theatrics from the tailpipe, as well as a ride that’s more suited to racetracks than Australian back roads.
On our test car, it also highlighted a persistent rattle in the dash — annoying in a $15,990 hatchback, let alone a $400,000-plus supercar.
Another flaw: the cabin of the Aston is comfortable and smart but doesn’t deliver the
wow factor to match its engine and chassis.
The Mercedes-Benz touches are evident but they also highlight the fact that the German maker has taken the quality of its presentation up a notch since supplying parts for the DB11.
The rear seats are almost useless and there’s not a huge amount of luggage space either.
Aston’s latest isn’t perfect — there are more accomplished sports cars at this price — but the DB11 is a gorgeous looking car with plenty of old-fashioned character. It may not be flawless but it sure is fun.