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.
THE 2018 ASTON MARTIN DB11’S V8 ENGINE