ASTON MARTIN DBS
Leggera? Brit range-topper is anything but a lightweight
Twin-turbo V12 means these boots are made for smokin’
OF ALL the cars on which I’d hate to be a set of rear tyres, this one sits at the top of the list. Aston’s DBS Superleggera produces 533kw from its twin-turbocharged V12, but that isn’t the telling stat here. It’s the 900Nm of torque. And the inescapably portly kerb weight figure, which, despite the use of carbonfibre body panels that save 72kg, sits at 1693kg. And that’s sans fluids. Combine the two and there’s a lot of physics for two 305-section Pirellis to manage.
And more often than not, they fail. Drive it hard on a circuit and even careful use of the throttle sends the traction control system into overdrive, especially exiting slower corners. Turn the electronic gubbins off and you’ll barbeque the bespoke rear rubber faster than a juicy scallop on a hibachi grill. Exciting, sure, but how much twist does a 2+2 super GT really need? Ferrari’s savage 812 Superfast has 182Nm less, and no sane person could argue it requires more thrust. Before we get to that, however, some context.
The $517,000 DBS Superleggera is the replacement for the nowretired Vanquish, meaning it flies the flag as the ultimate Aston – at least until the Valkyrie and the much-anticipated mid-engined supercar arrive.
It’s built on the same bonded aluminium architecture as the DB11 and utilises the same 2805mm wheelbase and forged suspensions (double wishbones up front, multi-links out back), but sits 5mm lower. There are wider tracks, stiffer springs, anti-roll bars and rear bushings, a more aggressive limited-slip differential and, thanks to clever underbody aero work and a discreet rear spoiler, the most downforce of any Aston Martin ever: 180kg at 340km/h.
The 5.2-litre V12’s mechanicals are unchanged from DB11, the 86kw/200nm increases arriving through more boost, greater cooling and a new quad tailpipe exhaust that’s said to be 10db louder. The eight-speed ZF gearbox is new too, its beefier internals and new casing required to cope with the extra torque.
As with DB11, there are three modes for the engine and chassis (GT, Sport and Sport Plus), which can be cycled through via plasticky steering wheel buttons. Drive it sedately and the DBS is remarkably civilised; the experience one of effortless propulsion, silky drivetrain calibration and supremely judged damping. Dial up the aggression, however, and the DBS rises to the challenge. Fast, flowing corners are its forte, the big V12’s bottomless pit of torque delivering a deeply satisfying surge as you squeeze on the throttle in fourth and fifth gear. Sounds good, too, the exhaust cracking and popping on the overrun in Sport and Sport Plus to provide just the right amount of cultured aural theatre.
It’s only when you try to hustle the DBS, as we did at the technical Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand, that things can become a little uncouth and squirmy as you work to contain the weight and to manage the colossal torque.
Ultimately, however, the success of the DBS Superleggera rests in what you want from your $500K super GT. If the answer is breathtaking looks, creamy power delivery and continent-crushing comfort, then Aston’s newest model is world-class. It’s a brilliant sporting GT; one that feels properly special and a clear step beyond the DB11. It’s also more comfortable and civilised than an 812 Superfast, though nowhere near as exciting or as dynamically talented.