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Lightness is Relative - Superleggera Aston Martin DBS
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is a turbocharged V12 grand tourer unlike any other
In my years as a motoring journalist with the privilege of driving some of the fastest and most technologically advanced cars to hit the roads, the Aston Martin DB11 goes down as one of the finest grand tourers I’ve ever driven. And I’m not even talking about the V12 – the V8, which borrows an engine from AMG, was the true star. Never has a supercar of such concept and calibre felt so practical and easy to drive at the same time.
Naturally, news of the DBS
Superleggera, a lightened and beefed up version of the DB11 V12, got my hopes up. At 1,845kg, Gaydon’s flagship GT is only ‘super light’ by its own standards; many rivals are substantially lighter even after you’ve factored in the driver’s weight. But like many Aston Martins, the DBS Superleggera is a car that plays by its own rules.
For instance, instead of succumbing to the use of massive wings and diffusers to generate enough traction to keep the car level-headed through fast corners, Aston Martin invested more engineering hours into airflow and invisible aerodynamics.
The result is something it calls Aeroblade 2, which contributes up to 180kg of downforce at top speed without any unsightly bits of metal or carbon fibre protruding from the DBS Superleggera’s sleek and sporty frame.
Top speed in this case is a lofty 340kph. But the real drama lies in the journey to get to the halfway mark. Aston Martin is the only carmaker with a series production twin-turbo V12 engine, and the upside is 715bhp and 900Nm of torque, which is a ridiculous amount. Forced-induction comes at the expense of some lag. And the combination of the DBS’S splitsecond of lag and its heady output is as potent as Mentos and Coca-cola. Clearly, this isn’t a car for beginners, regardless of the size of their bank accounts.
Despite the explosive performance – Aston says it will do 0-100kph in four seconds flat – the ride is kept civil by the company’s clever Skyhook dampers. It tries its best to keep things soft in the default GT driving mode. But flicking the steering mounted drive mode selector to S or S+ tightens up the setup, as well as the response of the throttle and eight-speed transmission, to transform the DBS Superleggera into a car that wants to tear up a race track and set a faster lap time at every attempt.
And that is exactly what sets the DBS Superleggera apart from the DB11 on which it is based. Despite sharing so much DNA between them, the DB11 is a hasty cruise ship that feels incredibly comfortable on public roads, be it an interstate highway or a winding B-road through the outskirts. The DBS Superleggera amplifies this recipe at the expense of day-to-day useability. But it is evidently the faster and more visceral offering of the two. Its raw aggression and power should win over prospects who deemed the DB11 a tad too dignified – if there is even such a thing – for their liking.
This is Aston Martin in its unhinged and unadulterated best.