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First drive: Aston Martin DB11. Image by Max Earey.

First drive: Aston Martin DB11
Finally, it's here, the next chapter in Aston Martin's GT history, the stunning new DB11 coupe.

   



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Aston Martin DB11

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

When Aston Martin whipped the covers off its new DB11 at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, it was generally met with approval. The company's new design direction is a hit and it emphasises a commitment to clever engineering underneath. Now, finally, it's time to put it to the test on the road. Can the DB11, with its clever aerodynamics and twin-turbocharged V12 engine help the company grow and prosper? Read on...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Aston Martin DB11 'Launch Edition' Coupe
Price: 154,900
Engine: 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupe
CO2 emissions: 'target' of 265g/km
Combined economy: 'target' of 25mpg
Top speed: 200mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 608hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 1,500- to 5,000rpm
Dry weight: 1,770kg

What's this?

It's the new Aston Martin DB11, a 2+2 coupe that's billed as a GT car, replacing one of the company's biggest sellers, the DB9. This is a ground-up design and it's seen as an incredibly important model for Aston as it sets out its stall for the next generation of cars, a generation that will include an SUV of some description. But for now, we have the more traditional two-door coupe, mostly constructed out of aluminium. Under a huge forward-hinged clamshell bonnet is a brand new engine, a twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 developed in-house by Aston Martin. It puts out 608hp and 700Nm of torque, the latter from just 1,500rpm. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission mounted at the back to give a near 50:50 weight distribution. That uses a mechanical limited slip differential to feed power to the rear wheels.

We'll let you decide on the looks of the DB11 (we love it), but it's worth noting that the exterior design hides some clever new aerodynamic tweaks. Those elongated side gills behind the front wheels, for example, are part of the 'Curlicue' system, which relieves air from within the wheelarches to enhance stability and steering feel thanks to reduced front axle lift. At the back, that's balanced by the 'AeroBlade', another very smart solution to reducing lift without detracting from the smooth profile of the car. Air enters hidden ducting at the back of the side windows and exits in a slot in the rear deck. Aston says it causes no drag.

Inside, the DB11 is larger than the DB9 it replaces, though the rear seats are barely worthy of that title as ever. Up front, however, there's loads of room to stretch out and useful storage too. This is the first Aston to employ electronics from Daimler and it shows in the infotainment menus and operating principles, but it's well-integrated and doesn't look like an afterthought. Aston's interior designers have created a special cabin elsewhere, with gorgeous materials and shapes throughout (other than the oddly square-looking steering wheel) and a vast array of personalisation options. That unusually shaped wheel makes it easy to see the lovely new TFT instruments behind, which enhance the DB11's cutting edge feel no end. They change appearance depending on driving mode, too.

How does it drive?

Speaking of driving modes, drivers of the DB11 can toggle between GT, Sport and Sport Plus to alter damping, steering, transmission, torque vectoring and exhaust loudness as a package. There's a 'quiet start' function for the engine too, which is your first hint that Aston has done wonders to make sure turbocharging doesn't mute its new V12. And it's a cracking engine, growling menacingly at low revs, roaring through its epically quick mid-range and then racing with a howl to the red line. At no point did we wish we were driving the old naturally aspirated unit instead. This new engine has a real kick from low revs too, so there's no discernible lag whatsoever - it just picks the DB11 up and flings it at the horizon. We didn't get a chance to test that 200mph top speed claim, but have no reason to doubt it.

Instead, we spent most of our day with the car on wickedly twisty back roads in Tuscany, featuring surfaces that make the typical British B-road look suitable for a game of billiards. In such conditions we did think that the default GT mode, the softest, could be softer still in terms of damping, as the big wheels and tyres thump over bad bumps and into deep potholes and the rear axle shimmies when caught out by mid-corner transverse ridges. However, push through that and you discover that the DB11's chassis is stable and trustworthy, with super-quick electronic driver aids and a lot of mechanical grip. Understeer is not on the menu at all, neutrality being the order of the day until you add more power, in which case the rear differential begins to lock and you get deliciously balanced, rear-lead acceleration out of a corner. It's huge fun and much more engaging than most GT cars at this level. Fast steering, excellent brakes and a slick automatic gearbox all add to the experience, too. It's at its best when being driven quickly, admittedly, though it flows with the road well too, making long journeys something to relish rather than resent.

Verdict

Many will choose the new Aston DB11 because of how it looks, or because of the sumptuous interior. It's touted as a GT car, and it does duty as that pretty well, but it's undoubtedly a GT car for someone that loves driving, as it's the most engaging of the species right now. As a signifier of what's to come from the British brand, it's a spectacular success.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 5 Aug 2016



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2016 Aston Martin DB11. Image by Aston Martin.2016 Aston Martin DB11. Image by Aston Martin.2016 Aston Martin DB11. Image by Aston Martin.2016 Aston Martin DB11. Image by Aston Martin.2016 Aston Martin DB11. Image by Aston Martin.








 

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