- I tested a $US234,086 Aston Martin DB11 V8 – a gorgeous machine with a potent, 503-horsepower engine under the hood.
- The DB11 was introduced in 2016 and hasn’t been substantially upgraded for 2020.
- It doesn’t matter, because the car remains gorgeous.
- The Mercedes-AMG-sourced twin-turbo V8 is a dandy alternative to the DB11’s V12.
- There are few proper grand-tourers around, but the DB11 is an exemplar of the automotive form.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Yeah, yeah … Aston Martin, DB11, James Bond. All that stuff is still in the picture. But let’s forget about the hoary cinematic associations and concentrate on the glories of the machine.
Aston kindly loaned me a 2020 DB11 coupé, with a Mercedes-AMG V8 engine replacing the V12 that I sampled several years ago. I tend to go absolutely ga-ga over rides like this; the DB9 is the car I’ve driven in the past half-decade that I simply cannot shake from my consciousness.
The DB11 doesn’t have a lot of competition: the Ferrari 812 Superfast, the Mercedes-AMG GT, the outgoing Chevy Corvette. The question, then, is does it retain its traditional lead in this field – in terms of conjoining breathtaking beauty and staggering power?
Read on to discover the answer:
My “Sunburst Yellow” 2020 DB11 V8 started at $US205,600, but quite a bit more than a few grand in options took the as-tested price to $US234,086
We first sampled the DB11 back in 2017.
And in 2019, we checked out the convertible version, the Volante.
The DB11 is, in two words, stupid beautiful. Introduced in 2016, the design was birthed under the supervision of Marek Reichman and signalled an aggressive departure from the Henrik Fisker era and Fisker’s focus on suave restraint.
For me, Astons are the most beautiful cars money can buy. In fact, I always feel underdressed around Astons — not equal to the lovely gauntlet thrown down by these handsome machines.
The temptation with GT cars is to … exaggerate. Because, as a designer, you can. Big engines mean long hood, and why not overplay the hand with the fascia? The DB11 resists that temptation.
Balance, balance, and yet more balance. The overall form is sleek and muscular, but the curves and lines and proportions add a dose of sheer elegance to the aesthetic.
If I were being churlish, I suppose I could complain about the headlamps, which are full LEDs with spidery running lights. I don’t care for that little extra bit toward the backward sweep. Minor offence, though.
The front splitter is part of the nearly $US7,000 “Exterior Black Pack.”
In a world of gargantuan badges, Aston just doesn’t go there.
This oh-so narrow hood vent …
Is gracefully echoed on the front haunch, extended rearward from the wheel arch.
The design element is also rhymed at the back end, with the bold tail lights. The DB11 is a fantastic 360-degree car: it looks great from every angle.
True, the fastback, floating roof might not be for everyone, but it didn’t bother me.
Again, the discreet badge, and the nameplate, in sans-serif chrome. (Technically, the typeface is Optima Roman.) That vent is part of an “AeroBlade” deployable spoiler.
“One of the major triumphs of the DB11’s design is the new AeroBlade system, which creates a virtual spoiler using jets of air directed through discrete ducts located on the decklid of the car,” we noted in our review of the DB11 several years ago
“This allows Aston to deliver great downforce without the need for a large and unsightly spoiler. There is a small retractable spoiler, but that’s only deployed at high speed.”
It’s a subtle thing, but that rear haunch is power and beauty in ideal balance.
$US3,200 buys you ten-spoke “Directional Black Gloss” wheels front …
… And back.
The yellow brake callipers are $US1,600 additional. My test car wore Bridgestones at all four corners.
In proper GT fashion, the DB11 is optimised for weekend runs to regions that are from the urban hullabaloo. Cargo capacity, under the hatch, is accordingly modest: less than 10 cubic feet.
One might be able to jam a slim golf bag in there. I could manage a pair of overnight packs, so mission accomplished.
It sure is fun to pop the aluminium clamshell hood on the DB11 …
… to reveal the rude beast that lurks beneath.
The 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine makes 503 horsepower, with 513 pound-feet of torque. This powerplant is borrowed from Mercedes-AMG — Mercedes owns a chunk of Aston and the carmakers share some components.
The entire engine bay is cross-braced to increase the DB11’s stiffness.
As magnificent as the DB11 is on the outside, the time has come to examine the interior.
We step over this door sill plate that identifies the car — note that there are no DB11 nameplates on the exterior.
It’s a cliché, but Aston thinks about tailoring its interiors. The driver’s seat fits like a Saville Row suit. I know what to do when I strap into a Porsche 911, but I know how I’m supposed to feel in an Aston. Clothes make the man!
The Aston badge is perhaps the best-designed in the automotive world. In my book, it’s rivaled only by Alfa-Romero and Ferrari.
The DB11’s start-stop button is lovely, but a step down from the old design, which required the insertion of a crystal key fob.
The push-button gear selector manages the eight-speed automatic transmission.
The DB11’s paddle-shifters are nicely crafted hunks of satin-finished metal. The “S” button controls the the drive modes: GT, Sport, and Sport Plus.
The suspension button on the other side allows for corresponding modes, but you can be in GT mode here and Sport mode for throttle and gearshift response, for example.
The seats have perforated upholstery, and the yellow top-stitching is few hundred extra.
The DB11’s one concession to bling.
Seat controls are tucked away on the centre tunnel. I mean “alloy torque tube,” which conceals a “carbon fibre propeller shaft.”
The back seats. Hahahaha!!!
As much as the DB11’s “Obsidian Black” interior is tailored, there’s also some sculpture here and there.
The infotainment system runs on an eight-inch central screen.
Aston also borrows the undergirding tech from Mercedes, and to be honest, it isn’t great. But a confession: I don’t care. It gets the job done. You can plot a GPS course. You can pair your phone. There’s a USB plug. The $US2,270 Aston premium audio sounds phenomenal — a big improvement over systems I’ve sampled in the past.
This buttons-touchpad-puck-y command centre is how you control the whole affair. It’s … awkward. But whatever. I’d rather Aston focus on making a beautiful car.
So what’s the verdict?
If cars like the V12 version of the DB11 and the Ferrari 812 Superfast are rolling anachronisms at best and, at worst, on the automotive endangered-species list, then the DB11 V8 is an effort to stave off the inevitable. Personally, I’d rather have four more cylinders under the hood, but the virtues of the DB11 V8 are considerable, even if the machine has endured something of a soul-ectomy. (Interestingly, what’s saddening in the DB11 V8 is utterly exhilarating in its stablemate, the glorious Vantage, more on that in a subsequent review).
What’s good about the DB11 is indeed very good, and unlike many, many other 21st-century asphalt-obliterating beast-mobiles – all-wheel-driven and suspension-managed and rather generally sanded off the rough edge – the DB11 is rather a wild thing. The car is a tail-happy gunslinger, and you don’t even have to try that hard to unstick the meaty Bridgestones from the road; a mere burst of throttle when executing a routine left or right turn will have you micro-drifting through the ‘burbs, gleefully. The equation is simple: much horsepower and torque piped to the rear wheels, plus snappy steering, yields a giddy dose of oversteer. Cue giddy grin.
When that gets old, which it never does, you can always aim the DB11 at an unveering expanse of highway and savour the perfectly calibrated roar and rumble that the V8 produces. No, it ain’t the majestic basso of the V12. But it will do.
And when that gets old, which it also never does, you can just park the DB11 and look at it. Holy schmokes, does Aston Martin know how to sculpt sheetmetal! No Aston is as beautiful as the DB9, but the current lineup is … well, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and declare inarguably the most gorgeous slate of vehicles money can buy.
A lot of money, of course, and let’s face it, Astons depreciate faster than cannonballs tossed from ravine bridges. But who cares? Toyota Corollas lose value, too. I’d rather be carping about how much moolah I’m blowing while I’m behind the wheel of a sumptuous, made-in-England grand tourer: financial agony should at least be exquisite.
The general idea behind the V8 variant of the DB11 is that by decreasing the size and bulk of the motor, the driving dynamics become lighter and sportier – less grand-tourer than sorta-kinda sports car. Indeed, the DB11 V8 is more sprightly than the V12, and perhaps even a tad wilder. I clocked the 0-60 mph time at a spirited four seconds flat, but the DB11 is supposed to be faster than that, so chalk the discrepancy up to my cowardice. Somehow, the car allegedly manages just south of 20 mpg in combined fuel economy, and doggone if I didn’t have a hard time incinerating high-octane petrol during my time with the DB11.
I wouldn’t opt for the yellow paint job, but it sure pops in photos. So influencers, consider the choice. As with all Aston paint jobs I’ve experienced up close and personal, it’s hypnotic.
In case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a sucker for Astons. The number-one plaything on my to-do list, should I unexpectedly make bank, is a DB9. I have a hard time reviewing the things objectively because I consider my wardrobe unworthy (paging Brioni) and because I’m weak-in-the-knees and fuzzy-in-love the whole time. Aston Martins are weapons of objectivity destruction in my world. They have me at VROOM!
They also don’t play nice. I recently sampled both a Porsche Turbo S and a Mercedes-AMG GT R (which shares a lot of bits and pieces with the DB11) and durned if I struggle to unsettle those cars. The Porsche can’t be ruffled by mere mortals, and the Merc is so loud and aggressive that it actively encourages you to be careful.
The DB11 V8, meanwhile, starts off mellow and mannered and then progressively unleashed hell. Before you know it, you’re hanging on for dear life – but asking for more. And it’s not obvious you can handle it. I fret not about throwing a 911 into a corner. And in, say, a Ferrari 812, I’m going so fast in a straight line that I don’t want to tempt fate. But the DB11 V8 whispers in your ear about the limits of grip and urges you to hit that corner with an abundance of foolish energy. Beware.
In the weird world of true GTs, the DB11 is something special: a car with so much soul that it effortlessly crossed the mind-body barrier. After a few minutes behind the wheel, you feel alive in ways that only a machine this utterly and unapologetically alive can make you feel.
Worth way over $US200,000? Well, if you have to ask …
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