Stirred, Not Shaken

Re­view of the 2018 As­ton Martin DB11


Mo­tor­ing ed­i­tor Robert St­ed­man re­views the 2018 As­ton Martin DB11

Among the things that made James Bond films so ex­cit­ing, other than beau­ti­ful women, vil­lains and ex­otic lo­ca­tions, were the cars that 007 drove. And one lux­ury car man­u­fac­turer was fea­tured more than any other. The first As­ton Martin, a DB5 Mark III, first ap­peared in 1964’s Goldfin­ger. In more re­cent years, other As­ton Martin mod­els were also fea­tured, with the iconic sil­ver birch DB5 even resur­fac­ing in Bond’s last movie, Spec­tre. That film also fea­tured a DB10, too. In case you didn’t know, the ‘DB’ stands for David Brown, an en­gi­neer and in­dus­tri­al­ist who pur­chased As­ton Martin in 1947. What’s so spe­cial about an As­ton Martin? Well, they’re ex­otic, grace­ful, beau­ti­ful, pow­er­ful, fast and ex­pen­sive lux­ury mo­tor­cars. And As­ton Martin’s new­est DB11 is no ex­cep­tion. As renowned fur­ni­ture de­signer Carsten Ovesen re­marked after test-driv­ing the model, “I wouldn’t change one sin­gle line or curve on this beau­ti­ful ma­chine.” When the DB11 de­buted in 2016, it rep­re­sented a bold new change for As­ton Martin, and that re­mains true in 2018. The newly styled car was a re­place­ment for the ven­er­a­ble DB9, and was the first model to de­but the brand’s all-new twin-tur­bocharged V12. The DB11 was also the first new As­ton Martin to gain from the tie-up with Mercedes-Benz, with much of the elec­tron­ics in the DB11 com­ing from the Ger­man car man­u­fac­turer. Daim­ler AG, MercedesBenz’s par­ent com­pany, now owns 5 per cent of As­ton Martin.

Smaller, Lighter New En­gine

While the first ver­sion of­fered a 5.2-liter twin-tur­bocharged V12 en­gine, As­ton Martin re­cently in­tro­duced a smaller, lighter 4.0-liter twin-tur­bocharged V8. We tested that DB11 en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion. Nat­u­rally, the V12 is more pow­er­ful but the new, smaller V8 seems bet­ter suited to this car. It’s also 115kg lighter and more com­pact than the V12 ver­sion. That weight re­duc­tion helps and im­proves steer­ing and han­dling. Mercedes-Benz’s per­for­mance di­vi­sion, AMG, pro­duces the new V8 en­gine. As­ton Martin engi­neers also de­signed new en­gine mounts that, to­gether with the cus­tom, slim-line wet sump sys­tem en­ables the V8 to be mounted as low as pos­si­ble for an op­ti­mised cen­tre-of­grav­ity – some­thing you want in a per­for­mance au­to­mo­bile. As­ton Martin engi­neers also re­tained the V12’s eight-speed, elec­tronic au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, rather than use Mercedes’ seven-speed unit, which is stan­dard on the orig­i­nal AMG V8, in keep­ing with GT tra­di­tion the car is driven by the rear wheels. A car­bon fiber drive shaft is used to trans­fer power to the rear. The shaft is four times lighter and stiffer than steel, and trans­fers more torque to the dif­fer­en­tial.

El­e­gant, Ef­fort­less Dive

One thing that many driv­ers love about this car is the sound the en­gine makes. It’s not su­per loud, but the head­ers and ex­haust put a mild, un­mis­tak­able rum­ble of pure power in the cabin. One fea­ture

that is re­ally clever is the two start-up se­quences. If you quickly press and re­lease the start but­ton, the car growls to life with an or­ches­tra of sound and revs from the car. After a few sec­onds it qui­ets down to a gen­tle purr. But if you press and hold the start but­ton a lit­tle longer, the car awakes slowly with­out its ma­jes­tic roar. Even with the smaller V8, DB11 eas­ily ac­cel­er­ates from 0-100kph in a quick 3.7 sec­onds. When we tested the car, it ac­tu­ally seemed faster than that. Putting the ac­cel­er­a­tor down hard al­most made our driver think the car might flip up be­cause of all the torque and ac­cel­er­a­tion. The DB11’s ride and han­dling are re­fresh­ingly free of lux­ury car hy­per­bole. The DB11 el­e­gantly rides like a GT au­to­mo­bile, and is re­ally fun and ef­fort­less to drive. It per­forms like a tour­ing sedan and yet eas­ily be­comes sporty drive if you punch the pedal down. It’s the best of both worlds – it’s com­fort­able and sporty. The sus­pen­sion has been sub­tly alerted to fit the pro­file and weight of the new V8. The rear sus­pen­sion bushes and cam­ber rods have been beefed up, too. Engi­neers have also ad­justed the map­ping for the elec­tric power steer­ing to give a heav­ier, more tac­tile feel. The six-piston front brake calipers grip down on the ro­tors like an an­gry moray eel – stop­ping is strong and pre­cise. These mi­nor ad­just­ments all work to­gether to cre­ate more driver in­volve­ment and a won­der­ful, al­lur­ing ride.

Choos­ing A Drive Pro­file

Like most lux­ury ve­hi­cles to­day you can ad­just the sus­pen­sion, damp­ing and en­gine per­for­mance by se­lect­ing dif­fer­ent drive pro­files. The D11 has a choice of GT, Sport and Sport+ modes. The GT mode eas­ily irons out mi­nor road im­per­fec­tions while the sport modes stiffen the ride and heighten en­gine per­for­mance. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive at As­ton Martin pointed out that, un­like Lam­borgh­i­nis, the DB11 is able to en­ter all HDB park­ing lots with­out scrap­ing the bot­tom or get­ting stuck. Thanks to the Mercedes-Benz part­ner­ship, the DB11 of­fers vastly su­pe­rior elec­tron­ics than what was of­fered in pre­vi­ous As­ton Martin cars. The in-car en­ter­tain­ment with its 8-inch LCD screen is un­ob­tru­sive and easy to use, and works very sim­i­larly to what’s found in many Mercedes-Benz cars. The dash­board is clean and well de­signed. The car’s in­te­rior is sub­dued and taste­ful. And un­like many cars to­day, any­thing that looks like me­tal (sev­eral fin­ish op­tions are avail­able) re­ally is me­tal and not plated plas­tic. As­ton Martin claims it takes six cowhides to make the in­te­rior of the DB11, and from the looks of the stun­ning in­te­rior is prob­a­bly true. While this car is ex­cep­tional, it does suf­fer from one small draw­back. The rear seats would have trou­ble mak­ing a child Hob­bit feel com­fort­able. They are small. The DB11 is es­sen­tially a two seater with room for golf clubs on the back seat. The seats are slightly smaller that the Fer­rari’s GTC4Lusso, which we re­viewed in Port­fo­lio last year. Is the car worth its S$650,000 plus price tag? You bet, if you can af­ford it. And maybe James Bond was wrong after all – It’s much bet­ter to be stirred rather than shaken.


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