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First drive: Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.

First drive: Aston Martin DB11 V8
Forget pricing: there are far more compelling reasons to opt for the new V8-engined Aston DB11.

 



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Aston Martin DB11 V8

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

When Aston Martin launched its sublime DB11 gran turismo last year, it was declared one of the most important cars ever launched by the British luxury automotive company, but arguably it's this very version of the coupe, the new V8-engined model, that should be labelled with that title. It's the first to use Mercedes-AMG power and, though designed with international markets in mind, it makes a rather compelling case for itself back home in Britain too.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Aston Martin DB11 V8
Price: 144,900
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, limited slip differential
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupe
CO2 emissions: 230g/km (1,700 first year, 450 for next five years)
Combined economy: 28.5mpg
Top speed: 186mph
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 675Nm at 2,000- to 5,000rpm

What's this?

It's a new version of the gorgeous Aston Martin DB11 coupe, this time with a twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine in place of the V12. The new V8 model doesn't replace the V12 car, but instead sits alongside it in the range. There's an all-but-irrelevant price difference between them in the UK, so Aston's engineers set out to make the V8 model the sportier option, one that appeals to those who love driving, without losing the core GT ground-covering ability.

Only us car anoraks of the world will easily spot the visual differences, which extend to darkened headlamp bezels, just two bonnet vents (the V12 model has four) and a different wheel finish. The interior is unchanged, which means a 2+2 layout with 'snug' rear seating and beautifully stitched and shaped leather upholstery everywhere you look. The switchgear is unique looking, but controls a Daimler system so the menus etc. will be familiar to anyone that has driven a modern Mercedes. It all looks fresh and modern and uniquely Aston Martin.

The introduction of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 from AMG means an overall weight reduction of 115kg, thanks in part to the lighter engine, but also to the fact that it can make do with one less heat exchanger. The DB11 body and chassis was designed from the outset to accommodate the AMG V8 so no restructuring was necessary. It has shifted the weight distribution further back by two per cent though (from 51/49 front/rear to 49/51 in the V8 car), which means a tweaking of the brake balance was required, resulting in subtly different brake pedal feel. The bushes in the rear axle were replaced with stiffer items, which has the knock-on effect of making the steering feel more direct and the car shorter, while there are new adaptive dampers with more damping force at low speeds among other changes. The power-assisted steering has been tweaked, too, as has the calibration for the eight-speed automatic. Aston also revisited the driving modes, with the aim of widening the differences between them.

In terms of the engine, it is mostly carried over intact. Aston fits a shallower oil sump (though still a 'wet sump') plus of course its own intake and exhaust systems. It also has a unique harness and its own calibration for the Bosch ECU. The exhaust tuning is completely different, and uses no electronic augmentation in the DB11.

Otherwise, the equipment specification of the DB11 V8 is no different to that of its V12 sibling, meaning an endless list of personalisation options. For most, the 144,900 purchase price will be merely the beginning.

How does it drive?

Poor weather conditions prevented us from exploring the DB11 V8's chassis in the dry, but even on horribly slippery road surfaces, with no margin for error, it proved to be a blast to drive. The meaty steering is perfectly judged, whether you're barrelling along a fast motorway or tackling a twisty mountain pass. The front end of the car is utterly dependable, gripping hard despite the conditions. Indeed, you need to be careful with the throttle in the wet; as there's so much torque, the wide rear tyres' traction is easily overcome. Saying that, you soon realise that the traction control system is quick and not at all intrusive, and there is enjoyment to be had in the wet by modulating the power for yourself through the long-travel accelerator pedal rather than relying on the electronics.

Though the DB11's width can be challenging on some roads, it soaks up bad surfaces well, especially in the default GT setting for the damping. This is brilliant for long motorway journeys, too, giving the car an uncanny ability to flow with the road rather than work against it in an uncomfortable fashion. The Sport and Sport+ modes firm things up, naturally, but never quite to the point of teeth-jarring. You will want to use the Sport+ driving mode (accessible separately to the damper settings, usefully) to hear the active exhaust at work, however, as it's a hoot. We'd never grow tired of hearing this V8 pop and burble on the overrun. Indeed, Aston has done a fine job on the exhaust tuning, as it sounds very different to the bass-rich AMG GT. Instead, there's almost a high-revving naturally aspirated feel to it.

Saying that, you can't hide from the incredible mid-range urge afforded by the two turbochargers. Whether you want to ride that wave of torque and leave the excellent transmission do its own thing or you favour taking control of the gearbox with the paddles and chasing the redline, this DB11 is sinfully good fun. And when you're finished having your fun, it even manages to amble along with barely a whisper from the engine bay. As if you'd ever want that...

Verdict

Initial impressions suggest that the V8-powered Aston DB11 is indeed the pick of the range for those that love to drive. It retains the V12-engined car's ability to crush long distances in comfort while making every outing in the car an occasion. To that, it adds more agility. It's the one we'd put our money on.

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

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 - 28 Sep 2017









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2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8. Image by Aston Martin.








 

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