This is it, folks; the final version of one of the most successful car designs of the modern era. It was 2003 when the gorgeous Ian Callum/Henrik Fisker-designed grand tourer was first revealed and, despite gentle evolution and improvement over the years wouldn’t you still say that it looks stunning?
It won’t be long at all before we see its eagerly anticipated replacement (the DB11) at the 86th Geneva motor show on March 13th. Much gorgeousness is expected and it’s almost guaranteed that the next car will have reviewers the world over plumbing the depths of their thesauruses to try to come up with a fresh way to describe a shape that will likely grace the front page of every motoring publication and website on the planet. So before the new, twin-turbocharged replacement is put before us, we thought we’d spend a morning with the final iteration of the DB9 to take in one last lingering hit of its sonorous, atmospheric V12 and age-defying shape.
Bringing the 5935cc motor in a DB9 to life is always a pleasant experience, but the sports exhaust system nailed on to our car takes it to a new level. As good as the engine in the new car will doubtlessly be, it will be a mighty achievement if it provides anything like the same aural delights as this V12. The Mercedes AMG GT has managed the trick of making a turbocharged engine almost sound like an atmospheric one, but that would appear to be an exception in a world where the laws of thermodynamics and a lack of exhaust resonance mean that turbocharged engines just don’t produce either an intake or exhaust note to compare to those that make do without compressed air to aid combustion.
So it sounds divine and dynamically, even though we didn’t have a much time to play with it as we’d liked, it is clearly beautifully sorted. Body control is superb, the ride is spot-on and Aston Martin has thankfully kept the DB9 sprung ever-so-slightly softer than track day warriors would like. Then again, we’d say that throwing a DB9 around a racing circuit is to miss the point of the car entirely. Besides, there are V8 and V12 Vantages you can use for such capers, if you must. But don’t let the lack of ultimate track prowess give the impression that this isn’t a divine driver’s car. Roads commonly suffer imperfections, circuits far less so and as such the DB9 GT might just be one of the best real world driver’s cars you can get.
The steering is another area that has gradually improved to the point where the system on the DB9 GT is likely to find itself on the DB11. The same is likely of other aspects like the new sat-nav and the console functions and, hopefully, the Divine Red paint job on the car you see here. Anyone else reckon it closely resembles the Dubonnet Rosso shade available on the DB5? Lovely …
All too soon our brief experience of the outgoing DB9 is over and it’s time to hand it over to another lucky so-and-so for them to enjoy a final taste. There’s a fair bit of time between now and the 2016 Festival of Speed, but we’ll have our fingers crossed that the DB11 will be there. Chances of having a drive if it is are slim if it is, but you’ll miss all the shots you don’t take, right?
Photography by Tom Shaxson