“Effortless elegance”. That’s synonymous with Aston Martin. Exquisite proportions, brilliantly blended with the right degree of sportiness and understatement. Astons are for men, not for boys. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that upon the announcement of the new DB11, the new flagship, bound to replace the venerable DB9, owners and Marque enthusiasts had quite some concerns.
The sense of anticipation upon the launch of the new DB11 at Geneva 2016 was huge.”Will the new DB11 be a rebadged Mercedes-Benz?” “Will it be as British and exquisitely elegant as the venerable DB9?” “Will it rumble as an aspirated V12 should?” “Will it be an Aston?”. Positive news: it’s still the Aston we all know and love, only made better. It’s no question that Newport Pagnell’s latest creation is a fresh (and rather brilliant I should say) new start for Aston Martin: nothing is carried from the past. Is it a good thing? At first glance it sure is indeed, as the new DB11 looks as gorgeous as ever.
So what’s new exactly? The chassis has been developed by ex Lotus guru Matt Becker and it’s 15% stiffer and lighter; the 3-mode adjustable and continuously variable dampers are Bilstein’s latest Skyhook design; the suspension architechture is double wishbones at the front and multi-link at the rear (the DB9 was wishbones all around);the new 5.2 liter twin turbo V12 has been developed by Mercedes and Aston, yet it is still assembled by very-British gentlemans at Newport Pagnell. Gone is the distinctive inverted instrument cluster and the infotainment is pure Mercedes Benz. The interior is rather pleasant: It welcomes you with a wonderfully expensive fragrance of leather, and its incricate never-seen-before stitching pattern reminds of the same high lavel crafstmanship found in high level shoes.
The DB11 is a GT and Aston promises that in the future there will be more differentiation between each model: if you were confused between the DBS, DB9, Vanquish and Virage, worry no more. Future Aston V12’s will be easier to distinguish and will offer radially different driving experiences.
Ultimately, how is the new DB11 to drive? As stated above, it’s a GT: this does not mean that it is not lazy in response and ultra-plush in the ride. A Gran Turismo is a car suited for the most dynamic expression of travelling and the DB11 does just that. It’s sharper in its response, thanks to the quick steering, boasting an (for Aston however) 13:1 ratio, similar to Ferrari’s blistering quick 11:1. The steering works wonderfully with the new chassis, giving the car a pleasant dynamic feel. Ride quality is outstanding, and the refinement is wonderful, thanks to the excellent suspension set up . This hefty 1770kg (dry) car seems to eat away every bit of its weight as it rolls down the road. While cornering, the DB11 leans on one side and keeps its line, without having any trouble in coping with its weight. Engine response is immediate and the gearing of the 8 speed ZF gearbox allows to keep the car in the constant power zone, just in case you need to explode past other cars. Throttle it’s sharp but not aggressive making it easier to dose the power. Transmission shifts are perfectly calibrated despite not being ultra-fast.
Ah yes: how does it sound? It sounds, surprisingly, non-aspirated. At idle is persistent and correct, which is indeed a relief!
What’s truly awesome of the DB11 is not just its underpinnings but its British car quirks: it’s the first GT to feature an automated suction mechanism on all doors, trunk and front bonnet; among its extra long list of options there are golden logos for the engine, and the cover of the main pocket storage on the centre console is electrically operated; it doesn’t any wings that lift at speed to increase the downforce: instead there is an integrated spoiler which channels air inside the car, avoiding the need for un-elegant spoilers.
The DB11 is the beginning, the tip of the iceberg for a whole new generation of Aston Martins. It’s the spearhead of the new era, which will be an exciting one for sure. While for the die-hard fans, Aston didn’t need a change, the DB11 is sure a welcoming and reassuring sight for everyone.