AN EVERYDAY SUPERCAR: THE SUBLIME NEW ASTON MARTIN DB11 V8
The DB11 is now available with an Amg-sourced V8 engine. Simon Davis heads to Spain to put the eye-catching GT through its paces
WHAT IS IT? To dismiss the DB11 V8 as an entry-level version of Aston Martin’s latest grand tourer wouldn’t be entirely fair. Sure, with a retail price of £144,900 it’s £13,000 cheaper than its V12-powered stablemate, but according to Aston this is an entirely different beast.
While the full-fat DB11 V12 was designed for crossing continents in supreme comfort at a significant rate of knots, Aston Martin claims the V8 model is the one to go for if you’re a keen driver.
Yes, it’s about 100bhp down on the V12, but the lack of those four extra cylinders right over the front of the car mean the V8 is 115kg lighter, and it also means this particular Aston Martin has a weight distribution of 49:51 as opposed to its big brother’s 51:49.
WHAT’S NEW? The clue is in the name. The most important change with the DB11 V8 is, well, the V8. Aston Martin got its hands on the Amg-sourced unit thanks to its working relationship with the Daimler Group. But more on this phenomenal engine later.
Aside from that new engine, the changes you get with the DB11 V8 are rather subtle. Aesthetically, its darker headlamp bezels, different vents in the bonnet, and darker tail lights are the main alterations the more eagle-eyed will pick out. These changes have been introduced to give the DB11 V8 a slightly more sporting and athletic image than the V12 model.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET? Although the DB11’S V8 engine may have been sourced from Mercedes’ slightly mad in-house tuners AMG, it hasn’t just been dropped into the British grand tourer as is. Aston Martin has fitted its own air intake, exhaust and wet sump lubrication systems, and has worked to “Astonise” the German engine.
The result of this tinkering is a 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 that develops 503bhp and 675Nm of torque. This allows the DB11 to complete the benchmark sprint from 0-60mph in just 3.8 seconds, while its top speed sits at 187mph. For perspective, the V12 DB11 will complete the same sprint in 3.7 seconds, so the V8 won’t exactly be left for dead by its more expensive stablemate.
While this likely won’t be a huge concern for Aston Martin owners, the DB11 V8 trumps the V12 model as far as fuel economy and CO2 emissions are concerned. Where the V12 manages 24.8mpg on the combined cycle, the V8 will do 28.5mpg. CO2 emissions for the V8 stand at 230g/km, while the V12 rises to 265g/km.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? In a word, the DB11 V8 is sublime. Aston Martin has built a thoroughly accomplished GT car that’s not only devastatingly quick in a straight line, but seriously impressive through the twisty stuff as well.
The steering is precise and has a healthy weight to it, allowing you to point the car’s nose into a bend safe in the knowledge that it won’t suddenly wash out. Aston has also worked a trick with the DB11’S damping. The set-up is soft enough to allow the car to ride comfortably over imperfections in the surface of the road, but firm enough to minimise body roll through fast corners.
Out on the motorway, the DB11 really comes into its element. It simply eats the miles up, and is an incredibly comfortable car to cover great distances in. The V8 engine has power on tap, and even in seventh gear it pulls astonishingly well.
HOW DOES IT LOOK? If there’s one thing an Aston Martin has to be, it’s beautiful, and the DB11 is certainly a stunning thing to look at. Where its sister car, the Vanquish, is far more aggressive in its appearance, the DB11 is a much more elegant and classy GT.
WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE? Anyone who has spent time in a Mercedes will no doubt be met with a sense of deja vu, due to the infotainment system being lifted straight from the German manufacturer’s model line-up (another fruit of Aston and Daimler’s relationship).
Past that, though, the DB11 is all Aston Martin. There’s leather all over the place, which has been sourced from cows raised in fields that aren’t fenced in with barbed wire. According to Aston Martin, this helps to ensure the leather is of the highest quality. One thing’s for sure: the DB11’S cabin is a great place to spend time.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE? The DB11 V8 bears a recommended retail price of £144,900, so it’s certainly not cheap. That said, it is intended to be an exclusive, luxurious GT car, so an affordable price tag was never going to be on the table.
As far as equipment goes, there’s a full leather interior, an infotainment system with 12-inch LCD display, satellite navigation and 360-degree parking camera, to name but a few features. And if you think you’ll tire of listening to the car’s V8 soundtrack, you can also order your DB11 with a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system.
VERDICT Although the DB11 V8 may be down four cylinders compared with the range-topping V12, by no means should you think that it’s in any form a lesser car. Like the DB11 V12, it’s a marvellous cross-continental grand tourer, but thanks to its new lightweight engine, the DB11 V8 is now more agile than ever. For those who value outright dynamic ability over challenging roads, this might just be the car to go for.