“This is not only the most important car that Aston Martin has launched in recent history, but also in its 103-year existence. The DB11 rightfully places Aston Martin once again as a leading brand in the luxury automotive market”, said Dr Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston, at the DB11’s launch.
AUG 05th 2016
Review: Aston Martin DB11 – an upgrade Mr Bond?
No big deal, then.
With so much at stake for what in effect amounts to a relaunch of the entire company, via its heralded “second century” plan, which will support a string of new models and powertrains over the next few years, it’s no surprise that the DB11 is an entirely new car. And not before time - the old 6.0-litre V12 engine and DB9 chassis have been squeezed until the pips squeaked. Time for a new kid on the block.
And so we have a morning-fresh V12 engine, with a new swept volume of 5.2 litres, supported by twin turbos, developing 600bhp and 516lb ft of torque, and taking this car to 62mph in 3.9 seconds and that magic top speed of 200mph. There’s a new bonded aluminium chassis, new suspension, new steel brakes, new aluminium clamshell bonnet design…. You get the plan.
Aston has boldly stuck its neck out and called this Grand Tourer “the most dynamically gifted DB model in Aston Martin’s history”.
It certainly looks the part, with sculptural LED tail lights echoing the old boomerang design that look very “second century” and a body that, while it echoes the bulging haunches of the DB9, has become more taut, more aggressive. A great deal of its new character is down to very clever aerodynamics. Bonnet grilles, hidden ducts and side strakes, plus two intakes hide at the base of each C-pillar, force the air up, round and under the bodywork. Air from the C-pillars is funnelled to the rear deck, where the “AeroBlade” – essentially a discrete slot in the bodywork – forces the air out in a disrupted jet that creates downforce, reduces lift and so replaces the need for a lip at the tail.
Inside, the cabin retains the rising, leather-clad and beautifully stitched fascia, while the satnav screen and controls and all major switchgear will be familiar to Mercedes owners; Aston have never been apologetic about partnering with Merc.
Passengers of a certain build will be relieved to hear that the DB11’s longer body means more space all round; my boyfriend is 6ft1 and said he’d never felt more comfortable in a performance car, which bodes well for its GT credentials. There are rear two seats with IsoFix, and you could sit two smallish children in there in relative comfort. Stretching the dimensions also means better weight distribution as the front-mounted engine now sits slightly further back, and the boot is surprisingly commodious… don’t ask me how I know, but you can fit an entire Aston PR man in there… plus the obligatory DB11 Silver Cross pram (yep, it’s smart).
Fire up the starter button and there’s a surprisingly mechanical snarl from the exhausts, which is a hint of what’s to come. Trickle out into traffic in Drive or using the steering-wheel paddles to shift through the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox in GT standard mode, and it’s docile enough. But flick through the damper and engine buttons on the steering wheel, to switch to Sport or Sport Plus mode, and this car gets surprisingly, sweaty-palm-inducing, properly lairy, as in rear-end-squirm-in-a-straight-line lairy. We haven’t experienced that in a while. All I can say is: be very wary of the DB11 in the wet.
Which is quite ironic, given that the suspension in GT mode has been dialled down considerably, for a far more Grand Tourer approach to motoring. You could cover serious distances in this car and tire not one jot. Some drivers will no doubt think Aston has gone too soft around the edges when they first get behind the wheel, but I refer you to Sport Plus mode… a lively rear plus 600bhp and a large dose of torque is enough to take anyone to their limits.
Aston’s chief powertrain engineer, Brian Fitzsimons, has called this car “the most characterful and capable all-round GT that this brand has produced” and we think he may be right. It’s two cars in one really: the big girl’s blouse grand tourer, and a monstrous V12 sports car with firm dampers and serious intent. You choose.
Price: from £154,900 (we tested the Launch Edition, at £167,015)
Join our motorsport community
Get closer to motorsport at Goodwood! Join the GRRC Fellowship to be first in the queue for event tickets, to attend the GRRC-only Members' Meeting and to enjoy year-round, exclusive benefits.