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First drive: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.

First drive: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Topping Aston’s GT range is the epic new DBS Superleggera; we’ve driven it.

 



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Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

4 4 4 4 4

Yes, the Aston DBS Superleggera shares most of its V12, interior and underpinnings with the DB11, but this 'Super GT' is a rather different prospect, ramping up the engagement factor while focusing on torque output in an attempt to give the Ferrari 812 Superfast a bloody nose.

Test Car Specifications

Pricing: £225,000
Engine: twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 petrol engine
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupe
CO2 emissions: 285g/km (VED Band over 225: £2,070 in year one, £450 per annum years two to six, £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 22.9mpg
Top speed: 211mph
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Power: 725hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 900Nm at 1,800-5,000rpm
Dry weight: 1,693kg

What's this?

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is the new flagship for the British company's GT range. It effectively replaces the Aston Vanquish, which, you may remember, took over from the previous DBS. Saying that, the DBS name was first used in the late sixties. Anyway, the new one is classed as a 'Super GT', sitting above the likes of the Aston DB11 models and competing head-on with the Ferrari 812 Superfast. In fact, we heard someone from Aston at the launch event quip, "if Ferrari can use an English name on its Italian car, then why can't a British company use an Italian name on its?"

But the evocative 'Superleggera' name (and traditional lettering along the vented bonnet) isn't just a marketing ploy; the new DBS uses carbon fibre body panels to keep weight down below that of the DB11 V12 it shares so much with. Not that they look the same. Not in the least. The DBS is an incredibly aggressive design, with serious presence, yet it manages to garner universal approval, mixing that menace with sensuous curves that'll have you gaping at it for hours.

The beauty of the car is all the more impressive when you learn that it has had quite a bit more aerodynamic focus than its GT siblings, resulting in a redeveloped 'Aeroblade' at the back, assisted by a double diffuser underneath and more details up front, including a low splitter and 'curlicues' to help direct air out from under the wheelarches. The headline figure is 180kg of downforce along the car at its top speed of 211mph, which is the most of any series production Aston yet.

That v-max probably piqued your interest... Aston's characterful twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 has been drafted in, but the wick has been upped, even over that of the 639hp/700Nm DB11 AMR. For the DBS Superleggera, the maximum figures are 725hp and 900Nm. Yes, nine hundred. That sends drive to a new rear-mounted ZF eight-speed auto, which has a mechanical limited slip differential dividing output up between the two rear 21-inch wheels, with the help of torque vectoring by braking. Those brakes are massive carbon ceramic items as standard, while there's also adaptive damping included. As you'd hope for a price tag of £225,000.

How does it drive?

There's some clever trickery at work in the control of the adaptive damping in the Aston DBS Superleggera, where the dampers, front and rear, are adjusted automatically on the entry and exit of a corner, in a bid to help the car turn in with alacrity, but without the need for nervous and over-direct steering. The cleverest aspect of all that, however, is that the driver cannot detect it at work. Instead, the DBS feels natural and 'organic' in its responses to your steering input, allowing you place it with precision and have a good sense of how much grip there is available. Within a very short period of time, you get used to the high levels, feel you can lean on the tyres into, through and out of a corner and thoroughly enjoy the DBS without ever really broaching the limit.

And as this is, technically, a GT car, that should be job done for Aston. But it's actually referred to as a 'Super GT', which means it needs to have the ability to engage and excite its driver should the road or mood take them. And boy does it. A big part of the excitement end of the equation comes from the uprated V12 under the bonnet. It sounds as sensational as ever, and Aston has ramped up the overrun theatrics when you're in Sport+ mode, which you'll probably find yourself defaulting to (unless you in slow traffic, as it makes the throttle too sensitive in that scenario). The dramatic sound is accompanied by serious performance, seemingly in any gear at any speed, thanks to the thumping 900Nm of torque on tap. And while that has the ability to launch the DBS toward the horizon in a relatively effortless fashion, keen drivers will likely still reach for the (enlarged) gear shift paddles to change down and hear this mighty powerplant do its thing.

Naturally, the drivetrain has a challenge on its hands with all that grunt going to the rear tyres, but the DBS isn't quite the uncouth hooligan you might expect it to be. Sure, it'll smoke its rear tyres nonchalantly if you provoke it, but first you'll have to delve into the settings sub-menus to disable the (quick-acting) stability and traction control system. And even then, you'll find that the car has very good traction (in the dry in any case - wet weather requires more prudence) and it telegraphs the limits of the tyres' grip with real clarity. So yes, if you want to hang the rear out on a track, it will gladly do so, but it's not the only trick in its book and it won't ever do that without you specifically trying to.

Instead, the DBS is at its best when blasting along empty, wide, sweeping roads. It deals with bumps and surface imperfections pretty well, but its low-profile tyres prefer smooth tarmac, unsurprisingly, and it's very stable at the high speeds it's capable of achieving with impunity. Thankfully, the carbon-ceramic brakes are just as good at reining in that momentum, though perhaps at the expense of low-speed smoothness.

In summary, the DBS Superleggera pretty much does everything the DB11 does, with a fraction less comfort, but a healthy extra dose of performance and focus on the enjoyment of driving. It's a sensational piece of kit.

Verdict

If the Aston DBS Superleggera was only ok to drive, you'd forgive it, as it sounds sensational and has more performance than anyone needs in a GT car. If it sounded only ok or wasn't hugely fast you might also forgive it, given how amazing it looks, taking Aston's modern-day design language to new heights. However, Aston won't be asking for any forgiveness, as it has created a really special car that really does do it all.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 1 Aug 2018









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2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.

2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Image by Aston Martin.








 

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