Testdriven | The Aston Martin DB11 (2017)

Aston Martin DB11 front view - main shot

Our resident motoring expert, Chris Walsh, discovers a new and nostalgic era for Aston Martin as he takes the new DB11 for a spin…

The new DB11 is the Aston Martin you’ve been waiting for,’ they tell us. A fairly obvious statement, it has to be said, from a brand that has spent the last 10 years being passed around like a game of shareholders’ hot potato. Yes, Aston, it’s true – we have been waiting. As the financial dust finally settles over Gaydon, the results of relentless investment from the current owners have clearly born fruit. Great dividends have been bestowed on us all by one of the most significant sports car manufacturers on the planet.

Being the first product launched under the company’s ‘Second Century’ plan, and the first proper production car under the Andy Palmer era, the DB11 becomes the latest figurehead of the illustrious ‘DB’ bloodline and it maintains the sporting GT tag in the finest of Aston Martin traditions.

But there is more. The Aston Martin DB11 also showcases some distinctive design language alongside some truly up-to-the-minute aerodynamics. The design heralds a new and nostalgic era for Aston Martin. The DB11 is the latest in a remarkable journey that gave us a host of icons like the DB4, DB5 and, most recently, the DB9 and DB10. But, the DB11 continues the relationship with those historical greats by ensuring that those fresh design signatures don’t interfere too much with the Aston-ness we know and love.

Foremost among these is the wonderful front-hinging clamshell bonnet. Can a bonnet be ‘wonderful’? Well, yes it can. But only when it’s attached to an Aston Martin. The profile is equally dramatic, too, thanks to the roof strakes that flow uninterrupted from A- to C-pillar. The lines continue at the rear, with a sloping boot lid that blends into some sculpted tail-lights to create a new and unmistakable bottom. As mentioned, new aerodynamics play their part in the air revolution, with clever management of airflow
both over and through the car. This ultimately serves to aid stability while preserving the DB11’s uncluttered surfaces. Front-end lift is reduced by the gill-shaped curlicue, which also releases high-pressure air from inside the wheel arch via a concealed vent within the redesigned side-strake.

Meanwhile, rear-end lift is reduced by the Aston Martin AeroBlade; a virtual spoiler fed by built-in air intakes located at the base of each C-pillar. To explain, air is ducted through the bodywork, before venting out as a jet of air from an aperture in the boot lid. Like most Astons, the heart of the car can be found beneath the (wonderful!) bonnet, though unlike any Aston before it, this heart is twinturbocharged. Designed in-house, the new engine develops a mesmeric 600 bhp, as well as 700 Nm of torque, making it the most powerful production DB model ever.

Naturally, it’s the fastest and best to drive, too. With a top speed of 200mph and a 0–62mph time of 3.9 seconds, you can be assured of its performance. Thanks to intelligent bank activation (better known as ‘cylinder-ondemand’) and stop-start technology, that power is matched by vastly improved efficiency. Being built upon a leaner aluminium structure than the last, the DB11 is now very gifted around the bends. As such, an undeniably potent and reassuring drive will be available from the moment you encounter your first apex.

To exploit the advantages of its new body structure and to harness all that performance of the V12, the DB11’s chassis, suspension, steering and electronics have been re-fettled and improved with key technologies. A selection of driver-selectable dynamic modes – GT, Sport and Sport Plus – progressively intensify the engine response, automatic gearbox, power steering feedback and torque vectoring. The result is a feeling that combines an extraordinary breadth of comfort (when you want it), with true sports agility (when you like it). Which brings us right to the ‘Grand Tourer’ tag. Because all these options – combined with wider door openings, significantly increased head and legroom space, plus a luggage compartment big enough to accommodate two large suitcases – means the DB11 occupies the definition of ‘GT’.

Thanks to a revised palette of colours and a vast array of detailing options, its interior can be specified closer to your own unique preference. From calming, carefully co-ordinated tones, to sharp contrasts in hue and texture, the choices are virtually limitless. Nexus quilting and celestial perforation feature as new optional extras, while leatherwork, such as brogue detailing, are also worth a look.

As a true 21st-century Aston Martin, the DB11 (finally!) features the very latest technology and infotainment. New shareholders Daimler AG (or Mercedes-Benz to you and me) now supply all the electronics (and whisper this quietly), all future V8s. Using a full-colour 12in LCD display, the all-new instrument cluster presents primary vehicle information with HD clarity, while a second, centrally-mounted 8in LCD screen is dedicated purely for infotainment navigation.

Controlled via a central rotary control and touchpad, the new satellite navigation and audio system have been bolstered, largely by Mercedes, to be more efficient, easier and simpler to operate. The existing Mercedes auto-park assist system with 360-degree birds-eye view camera also finds its way onto the DB11.

People may scoff at the notion of two such automotive goliaths working together but, in my opinion, Aston need this, so the marriage is a welcome one and has my blessing. The relationship completes the DB11 entirely and transforms this already beautiful English diamond into one that has been tirelessly polished by a German technician.

 

Images: Tristan Ware

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