Design changes for the V8 version are more than you would imagine, partly because Marek Reichman, design boss, and Matt Becker, chief engineer, took the 18-month gap between V12 and V8 to address some of the customer criticisms of the V12, as well as distinguishing the V8. For a start, there is now a very smart “Aston Martin” script on the boot lid, because, despite the emblem, many onlookers apparently didn’t know what they were looking at. Customers also complained that the only means of opening the boot was from inside the car, so you can now kick your foot underneath the boot and a sensor releases the catch (although it didn’t work on our car the first five times of trying).
Reichman has also thankfully calmed down the interior which, in the V12 version, could be a riot of different materials, textures and colours. Although you can still choose garish, contrasting tones and vivid stitching, everything is a little more blended – there is, in Palmer’s words, “a harmony of internal materials” – dark anodised aluminium surrounds the vents and handles, and the materials that were causing an annoying windscreen reflection have also gone.
From the outside, you can tell a DB11 is the V8 version by the blackened headlights and smoked lenses at the front and rear, plus there are no central vents in the bonnet, because the turbos are situated in the centre of the engine’s V, so you need air being forced in, not let out.
Handling and driving changes include a front end on a diet (it’s 115kg lighter overall), so nearer the Holy Grail of 50:50 weight distribution, less brake travel, stiffer sub-frame bushes at the rear, rebalanced dampers for more vertical rear support, more weight added to the steering effort and reduced travel on the steering-wheel transmission paddles. A sharper, tighter, more aggressive, more poised character, in other words.