WORLD’S GREATEST DRAG RACE 8
Because 12-car drag races will never get old.
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.