WORLD’S GREAT­EST DRAG RACE 8

Be­cause 12-car drag races will never get old.

Motor Trend (USA) - - Contents - Scott Evans

At what point does emo­tion over­take logic? In­duc­tive logic can be as sim­ple as premise + premise = rea­son­able con­clu­sion. Many flow­ers are red, and most flow­ers smell good, so red flow­ers should smell good. That’s easy enough, un­til you re­al­ize that the ti­tan arum, aka the corpse flower, blooms a deep red but smells like a locked dump­ster that’s been sit­ting out­side a Las Ve­gas Arby’s for the en­tire month of Au­gust.

Logic can there­fore be tricky, es­pe­cially in the case of over­whelm­ingly beau­ti­ful sports cars. The As­ton Martin DBS Su­per­leg­gera is fist-chew­ingly gor­geous, and cars with 715 horse­power are fab­u­lous. Ob­vi­ously, then, the DBS Su­per­leg­gera is the As­ton Martin we’ve all been dream­ing about since we loved our first car. Only a black-hearted cynic could deny this brute’s charms, and then only out of spite.

Friends, it’s Marek Re­ich­man’s world; we’re just liv­ing in it (e.g. he won’t fol­low me back on In­sta­gram). As­ton’s chief cre­ative of­fi­cer just hit a royal flush while the rest of the in­dus­try is shout­ing, “Go fish.” With the no­table ex­cep­tion of the DB4 Za­gato, I think this new DBS is the most beau­ti­ful As­ton Martin since … ever. It’s a riv­et­ing de­sign, blood pump­ing, jaw drop­ping, sweat in­duc­ing. I’ll save you the list of each and ev­ery phys­i­cal re­ac­tion caused by Re­ich­man’s lat­est and great­est, but rest as­sured, the car moves you.

The hard nose is ex­quis­ite, the front three-quar­ters a mas­ter­piece. The side pro­file smartly apes the afore­men­tioned DB4 Za­gato, but in lov­ing homage, not slav­ish fac­sim­ile. And those hips! Sin­ful is putting my feel­ings mildly. If I have a sin­gle gripe, it’s with the Su­per­leg­gera’s Teu­tonic rear end, specif­i­cally the gaudy 144-point A S T O N M A R T I N spelled out like a chrome bill­board. I un­der­stand

the ar­gu­ment: Cus­tomers in emerg­ing lux­ury mar­kets (Hi, China!) aren’t al­ways sure what they’re look­ing at, so the sig­nage is needed. But with a de­sign this strong, it’s not. Plus it looks tacky. Thank­fully, fish­ing wire and Goo Gone are cheap. Did I men­tion how small and per­fect the tail­lights are?

The in­te­rior? There’s a say­ing in the beer brew­ing world: Hand 10 brew­ers the same recipe and in­gre­di­ents, and you’ll get 10 dif­fer­ent beers. Long story short: What one guy calls a boil, an­other lady deems as not quite roil­ing. Be­cause of the hu­man fac­tor, each beer is unique. The same is true for the DBS Su­per­leg­gera’s in­sides. Be­cause the seats are hand-stitched, the same per­son who sews the driver’s seat sews the pas­sen­ger seat. Oth­er­wise each seat’s pat­terns would fail to match. Can’t have that. Re­mem­ber, even if you’re not in love with the in­te­rior you see here, As­ton Martin’s Q depart­ment can (nearly) out­fit the in­nards any way you like. And yes, it’s ba­si­cally the same in­te­rior as in the DB11 AMR, which is no bad thing.

Un­der that ex­quis­ite car­bon-fiber hood beats a vi­cious heart; As­ton’s Colog­ne­sourced 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 with the boost turned up by 5 psi. The re­sults are 715 horse­power and 664 lb-ft of torque. DB11/DBS mini-ceo Paul Bar­ritt as­sured us that un­less As­ton swaps in phys­i­cally larger tur­bocharg­ers, this is the most power that this mo­tor can make. Ex­pect to see larger snails on the DBS re­fresh in four years. All that power and fury is routed via a car­bon-fiber torque tube to a high-torque-ca­pa­ble ZF eight-speed transaxle. The en­tire rear sub­frame is soft-mounted to the uni­body via rub­ber bush­ings like on the DB11, un­like the hard-mounted rear of the Van­tage.

De­spite its prodi­gious power out­put, the Su­per­leg­gera is still first and fore­most a grand tourer, not a sports car. The

pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion was named Van­quish, but be­cause of lightweight­ing ef­forts this time around, As­ton Martin went and li­censed the Su­per­leg­gera moniker from Italy’s Tour­ing to more ac­cu­rately de­scribe the DBS. (The up­com­ing mid-en­gine As­ton will prob­a­bly be called Van­quish, be­cause why waste a great name?)

Crack the Su­per­leg­gera’s throt­tle, and all sorts of hi­jinks en­sue. For­ward mo­men­tum is one of them, but with so much power trav­el­ing through just two wheels, well, hi­jinks. Should you have the trac­tion con­trol fully on, then the lit­tle yel­low light will flicker on the dash, let­ting you know that the 305/30ZR21 Pirelli P Zeros are hav­ing mo­men­tary grip is­sues. (The fronts are 265/35ZR21.) Torque is limited through first, sec­ond, and third gears in nor­mal and Sport modes. In Sport Plus, it’s re­stricted in first and sec­ond.

Re­mem­ber those soft rub­ber bush­ings hold­ing the rear end onto the rest of the car? As the en­gine cuts but then al­lows power, you can feel the transaxle rock­ing around back there. Even un­der small ap­pli­ca­tions of throt­tle, you can feel the hous­ing move as the torque con­verter locks and un­locks. Although the amount of move­ment is both in­ter­est­ing and com­i­cal, it’s kind of a mess. I’m hop­ing I drove early cars and Job One ve­hi­cles will be bet­ter sorted.

Still, I can’t stop think­ing about the fact that I’ve never driven an au­to­matic transaxle ve­hi­cle that was 100 per­cent ship­shape. My mind races to the Corvette and how its slush­box is never ac­tu­ally— de­spite Chevy’s claims—good enough. But As­ton’s Van­tage is in the same notquite-there boat. My hope is that As­ton is sim­ply new to tun­ing the ZF eight-speed box and that things will im­prove via the magic of soft­ware. I think the bet­ter so­lu­tion for the DBS is ac­tive en­gine and transaxle mounts, like AMG em­ploys on its GT S. That said, this is com­plain­ing about a pea un­der eight mat­tresses.

Although the DBS Su­per­leg­gera isn’t the finest drag racer the world has ever seen, blast­ing from, say, 40 to 80 mph, or to 100 mph, or (let’s be hon­est) to 130 mph could be its own sport. Any is­sues I had with stand­ing starts were in­stantly for­got­ten as I spent the bet­ter part of three hours pass­ing as much Bavar­ian Alpine traf­fic as pos­si­ble. (Pro driv­ing tip: Avoid Ber­cht­es­gaden at the height of sum­mer.) Thanks to gen­er­ous helpings of car­bon bits, in­clud­ing the brakes, this car should weigh 150 pounds less than the 4,200-pound DB11. What an in­tox­i­cat­ing rocket sled. What a torque mon­ster.

Dy­nam­i­cally, the DBS rocks. What a won­der­fully sorted front end. The steer­ing is beau­ti­fully weighted, neu­tral, and im­bued with great-for-a-mod­ern-car feed­back. You can fall into the clutches of un­der­steer should you fail to brake hard enough for a cor­ner (sorry!), but that’s on the driver, not the car. For the most part the front end re­fuses to quit. The sounds of the snarly V-12 have been en­hanced for DBS duty, and the re­sults are fab. What I love most is that you’re not hear­ing sep­a­rate in­duc­tion and ex­haust noises but rather a full-on sym­phony tak­ing place in­side the cabin. One with just the right amount of turbo whirl mixed in, too. It’s glo­ri­ous. In fact, you can ap­ply that de­scrip­tor to the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence it­self. I’m still drunk on the mem­o­ries.

At this point, I’m al­most ready to con­clude that with the DBS Su­per­leg­gera, As­ton Martin is just show­ing off. Trans­mis­sion quib­bles aside, the Su­per­leg­gera’s big flaw is its price, just over $308,000 to start, and the metal­lic crim­son ex­am­ple with the lovely navy blue leather and red con­trast stitch­ing raises the buy-in to over $370,000. That’s some se­ri­ous scratch and hard to log­i­cally jus­tify—though as Re­ich­man so fa­mously said, “You don’t need an As­ton Martin. You want an As­ton Martin.” Damn skippy. Had I the means, I’d buy one just to look at the thing. Con­sider the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence a nice lit­tle bonus. n

DROOL In an era when de­sign­ers claim safety stan­dards are forc­ing the cre­ation of ugly cars, the DBS Su­per­leg­gera ex­poses the rest of the in­dus­try as lazy. Also, front plates are a crime.

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