Leg­gera? Brit range-top­per is any­thing but a light­weight

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ALEX INWOOD

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.

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