The star of the Geneva Motor Show 2016? There are lots of candidates but surely none as eagerly-anticipated as the new Aston Martin.
When we say ‘new’ we mean new – new in ways that haven’t applied to Astons since the DB9’s launch 13 years ago. Here’s as much of a clean-sheet design as you get these days, as you would expect of a car with a host of firsts under its belt: first new-gen car of Aston’s second century; first whole new car to be developed under new boss Andy Palmer and dynamics guru Matt Becker; first Aston to feature Mercedes tech; first turbo DB; and first car on a new aluminium platform. Yep, and even the first Aston you can get child seats in!
What does it all add up to? For Aston it’s the ‘most powerful, most efficient and most dynamically gifted DB model in Aston Martin’s history.’
Here is GRR’s exclusive whirlwind tour around the new DB11…
1) It looks different!
Marek Reichman is not just handy on the track (see him at Revival last year here) but he’s an ace with the pencils as his concepts have demonstrated at Goodwood many times already. This is his first DB (the DB9 was the work of Henrik Fisker) and introduces a new design language that reinterprets the familiar – but still pleasing – DB9 profile with taut lines and lots of surface tension. For GRR it has the needed freshness along with some fine details that bring the Aston character bang up to date. Design highlights? A front-hinged clamshell bonnet (with soft-close catches), accentuated Aston Martin grille, roof strakes, a very low and sloping tail, powerful rear haunches and strong new LED light signature. And of course no Aston would be complete without the side strakes aft the front wheels.
2) It’s got a Gurney flap!
The DB11 may not look particularly ‘aero’ but Aston is claiming the aerodynamics are ‘pioneering’. Key ingredients are the signature side strakes – repurposed for both cooling and lift-reducing functions – and the ‘AeroBlade’ virtual spoiler (like a sort of Gurney flap) at the rear, which is fed by high pressure air fed to it through ducts that pass within the body. When maximum stability is needed a small active spoiler deploys from the rear decklid. The point? To reduce rear lift,while at the same time allowing for the aesthetic of a very low and sloping tail.
3) It’s faster
The legend that is Aston’s V12 has come down from 6.0 litres to 5.2 and been given twin turbos for the first time. Power is 600bhp (the normally-aspirated V12 in the DB9 put out 510bhp) backed up by 516 lb ft of torque, again more than before but crucially now available not just at 5,500rpm but all the way from 1,500rpm. With an eight-speed paddle-shift automatic (a proper torque converter auto) sending the power to the rear wheels the DB11 is credited with 0-62mph in 3.9secs (DB9: 4.6) and a top whack of 200mph.
4) It’s been set up by Matt Becker
The DB11 is the first whole new Aston to get the magic dynamic touch of former Lotus ride and handling guru, Matt Becker. The chassis, steering, suspension and electronics have all been reworked under his direction, with the result that Aston says the DB11 sets the GT standard for ride comfort as well as sporty handling – to an ex-Lotus man, good ride and good handling are inextricably linked of course. Active torque vectoring is a first for Aston Martin, while the latest Bilstein adaptive dampers are fitted. Driver-selectable modes comprise GT, Sport and Sport Plus, and Aston promises clear differentiation between them. There’s a mechanical limited slip diff, weight distribution of 51/49, and specially made S007 tyres courtesy of Bridgestone. Oh, and that all magic dust sprinkled on it by Matt Becker…
5) It still sounds great (they say)
There’s a whole chapter in the press kit on the car’s ‘sonic identity’. Not just the expected engine note – for which the V12 is rightly famed – but down to things like the bings and bongs of warning systems and even the creak of the leather upholstery (it says here). But it’s the V12’s noise we are most interested in, and Aston claims the DB11’s exhaust note is as rich as ever – and achieved entirely without recourse to pumping synthesised noise into cabin speakers. ‘What you hear comes purely from the intake and exhaust’, says the firm. A new feature is a ‘quiet start’ function to avoid waking the neighbours at three in the morning.
6) It’s more efficient
No figures yet for CO2 or fuel but Aston says the DB11 is the most efficient DB ever. The figure to beat is 19.8 (the DB9’s combined mpg) and new features to help the DB11 do it include cylinder deactivation (one bank of cylinders shuts down on light load) and a stop-start system.
7) It’s bigger but lighter
As befits a clear focus on 2+2 GT rather than sports car, the DB11 grows a little – it’s 50mm (2ins) longer and 28mm wider – but with its 65mm longer wheelbase is said to offer substantially more room inside. The bonded aluminium body structure is the lightest and stiffest Aston has ever designed, and the body is a mix of aluminium and composites. Kerb weight comes in at 1,770kg which is 15kg less than the DB9.
8) It’s roomier
The DB9 was no packaging marvel, as anyone who tried to sit in the back (or even taller drivers sitting in the front) will testify.
The DB11’s extra size but also a rearward repositioning of the drivetrain and a new fuel tank deliver 87mm, three and a half inches, more kneeroom in the back. It’s now a real 2+2, says Aston. Up front, the seats go back further and there’s more headroom.
9) It’s more family friendly
Wider opening doors and slimmer sills make the car easier to get in and out of, while boot space has gone up from the DB9’s 155 litres to 270 litres. The extra space in the back seats means two child seats can now be fitted, for which Isofix points are provided – an Aston Martin first. Other new everyday-driving features include a 360-degree birds-eye camera and park assist.
10) It’s a Mercedes (well, bits of it are…)
Which bits? The components, hidden from view, that Aston has been in need of for quite a few years now: all the infotainment gubbins. So thanks to ‘technical partner’ (and minority shareholder) Daimler AG, the DB11 gets all the latest gear and gadgetry: full TFT instrument cluster on 12-inch screen, secondary 8-inch TFT screen entertainment screen, all-new satnav, and intuitive rotary control and optional touchpad. Everything is given the Aston Martin graphics treatment of course so there should be no way of knowing the systems’ origins. Other Merc bits coming? We’ll have to wait a while yet for a DB11 with the twin turbo V8 from the Merc GT.
11) It’s coming soon
DB11 prices in the UK will start from £154,900 with the first deliveries due in the fourth quarter of 2016.