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Aston Martin DB11 first drive

By raccars Published

Aston Martin DB11

The all-new Aston Martin is the first in a fresh generation of cars from the British producer of Bond’s wheels. It’s a hugely accomplished machine that squarely hits the bullseye.

Aston Martin DB11

• Price: £154,900

• Engine: 5.2-litre V12 twin-turbo

• Power: 608hp

• Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

• 0-62mph: 3.9 seconds

• Top speed: 200mph

• Fuel economy: TBA

• CO2: TBA

• On sale: Now

Three 2016 Aston Martin DB11 facts

1: The Aston Martin DB11 is the most powerful DB-badged Aston ever, with a full 608hp

2: It uses ‘hidden’ aerodynamics with a jet of air creating a ‘virtual’ rear spoiler at speed

3: Mercedes-Benz supplies the electronic architecture of the DB11 – it uses the same comprehensive infotainment system as an S-Class

What is it?

The Aston Martin DB11 is the first all-new GT car from the British car company in over a decade. Built around an advanced aluminium architecture, it is packed with technology throughout as Aston plans to build a range of cars based around the tech of this car: it’s thus a vitally important car to get right.

Out goes the old 6.0-litre V12 engine and in comes… another V12, a 5.2-litre but this time with twin turbos. It produces 608hp, more than any DB Aston before it, and also produces 516lb ft of torque – and this pulling power is spread between 1,500-5,000rpm, promising excellent flexibility.

With an eight-speed automatic gearbox, adaptive suspension, electric power steering, active torque vectoring and, on-board, a highly advanced Mercedes-Benz infotainment system, it’s the most high tech Aston Martin ever. The promise is enormous: how does it fare on the road?

Styling and interior

Aston Martin has created a whole new look for the big, svelte DB11. It’s more imposing than the DB9 it replaces, with more voluptuous curves and sharper creases. It’s a striking car and a very appealing one – it also works well in some of the bold new colours Aston Martin has launched with it.

It’s still clearly an Aston Martin; the front end styling cues, the bold haunches at the rear and the thin LED tail lamps are all familiar cues. But it’s better proportioned and far more richly detailed than the DB9… and we love the retro-style 1970s DB6 look to the rear end that gives it added kudos in Aston Martin circles.

Inside, the leap over the DB9 is barely quantifiable. It’s significantly roomier, airier and richer, with a far more modern and appealing dashboard packed with modern functions never before seen on an Aston. The Mercedes-Benz infotainment system blends in well and is as comprehensive as you’d expect, while the detailing again is exquisite.

The seats drop nice and low and it’s a really nice place to sit in for a long-distance GT cruise. It’s also beautiful to the touch, with every surface having a premium feel. Rear space isn’t so premium, naturally – it’s a GT so the 2+2 seats are only really for small children – but the 270-litre boot will prove handy for weekends away.

Performance

This isn’t the fastest DB11 there’ll ever be – which guarantees the DB11 range is going to be a very high performance one indeed… because even this ‘standard’ version is rapid. Very, very rapid.

It does 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and blasts on to 200mph with ease. The performance is also much more accessible than in previous Aston Martin V12s, thanks to those two turbos supplying strong low-down pulling power. Throttle response is strong and you no longer need to downchange a few times to get the overtaking power you’d expect of a V12.

The engine sounds good too, delivering the V12 aurals people buy this sort of car for. Even when cruising, the exhaust note is there in the background providing rich ambient noise: let the engine rev to super-high revs and it sounds amazing. The eight-speed gearbox is peerless and the firm brakes have good feel.

Handling

Aston Martins have always handled well, pleasing enthusiasts no end with their stiff feel and engaging steering. The DB11 isn’t quite as raw as the DB9 it replaces, but it's still a brilliant car through the bends, with lots of precision, predictability and stability.

The wide platform and engine positioned well back in the chassis means it turns in with surprising eagerness for such a powerful car, cornering elegantly and positively. Grip levels are huge but you can exploit it and feel the most wonderful power-oversteer exits from corners, which are child’s play to control. At high speed, the ‘virtual’ spoiler at the rear pushes the tail down to give it a planted, stable feel; there’s similar technology at work on the front end.

There are three suspension settings – GT, Sport and Sport+. None is over-aggressive and really, we’d stick with GT for most of the time and only go Sport on twistier roads: Sport+ is best for the track. It’s controlled via a handy button on the steering wheel. GT delivers a very fluid, well-damped ride and only occasionally will the DB11 pick out sharp bumps with a jolt.

Steering is sharp and precise, with lots of accuracy and confidence. It doesn’t have the communicativeness of the old DB9, which some enthusiasts will mourn, but for most the extra stability and ability of the DB11, along with its purer, more natural feel, will be easily preferable.

Price and value

The DB11 costs £154,900, which is a heck of a lot money but also, oddly, great value for such an accomplished car. It has a richness and a premium feel no Aston Martin has ever achieved, and stands apart in its sector even though its rivals are very appealing themselves.

The DB11 goes up against models such as the Porsche 911 Turbo, the McLaren 570GT, the Ferrari California, the Audi R8 V10 Plus and perhaps even the cheaper Mercedes-AMG GT. There’s no question which car has the most svelte looks, the most beautiful interior alongside them.

Fuel economy

Aston Martin hasn’t revealed fuel economy or CO2 figures yet but the DB11 does boast modern fuel-saving engine stop-start plus cylinder deactivation technology. When running at part loads, six of the 12 cylinder banks will shut down so it effectively runs as a 2.6-litre V6, which will save fuel when cruising.

The new engine meets the very latest emissions standards and the very addition of twin turbochargers is likely to save fuel in real world use simply because you don’t have to rev it as hard.

Verdict

The Aston Martin DB11 delivers. It is an enormously appealing car that’s lovely to look at and sit in, and even better to drive. It is fast, powerful, engaging, rides with composure and has genuine GT elegance. It is a real step on for Aston Martin and is a thoroughly modern grand tourer the firm rightly can be most proud of.

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