- The Aston Martin DB11 Volante and the Mercedes-AMGGT are powerful GT cars that both have big price tags.
- Of the two, the DB11 has the much larger price tag – but it also oozes cool. There are few cars on Earth that look this good.
- The Mercedes-AMG GT C takes the prize, largely because you can get the Aston’s V8 at a much lower cost.
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In the rarified world of ultra-luxurious grand-touring cars, there aren’t that many choices.
But I’ve recently driven two: the Aston Martin DB11 Volante and the Mercedes-AMG GT C. (Although in fairness, the Aston is a proper luxury tourer, while the Mercedes leans toward being a sports car and is intended to do battle with the likes of the Porsche 911 GTS).
A whopping $US100,000 separated my test vehicles when the price tags were compared. And for the record, Aston Martin does sell a two-door that’s priced more closely to the Mercedes: the V8 Vantage.
But I still thought it would be interesting to see how the DB11 Volante and the AMG GT C stacked up against each other. Even more so because both cars have a Mercedes-AMG V8 under the hood (Mercedes owns 5% of Aston and has been contributing engines to the partnership).
We’re talking about machines that produce epic speed and serious noise while still making you feel as if you need to wear your best suit while driving them. So that’s our point of entry. It’s possible these days to buy plenty of automotive velocity for not a lot of money. But can you buy the special something that cars like the DB11 and AMG GT C bring to the party? And is it worth it to shoot the Moon on a vehicle such as the Aston?
Read on to find out.
First up, we have the Aston Martin DB11 Volante, the most recent Aston Martin we’ve tested.
What we have here is a convertible …
… But we’ve also tested the Aston Martin DB 11 coupé. That tester did have a mega-powerful V12 engine, however, while the Volante had a V8.
The Volante looks good with the top down, but …
… The suave, aggressive design comes though with the top dropped.
The DB11’s interior is staggeringly stylish — ultra-premium.
Yes, there’s a back seat. No, it isn’t for adults to sit in.
The brogued detail on the blue seats in our tester was pure bespoke. Absolutely gorgeous!
The seat backs are adorned with Tamo Ash.
Under the hood, we find a 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8, making 503 horsepower.
Here’s where things get interesting. Aston Martin is a small automaker that sells only about 5,000 vehicles per year. So it obtains engines from … Mercedes AMG!
Likewise, Aston’s infotainment system is borrowed from Mercedes.
The high-grade audio system, however, comes from Bang & Olufsen.
On to the Mercedes-AMG GT C!
We tested the pure, hardtop GT — a grand-tourer-meets-sports-car with no back seats.
The bulging, curved rear end of the AMG GT isn’t as attractive as the sharper tail of the Aston.
But the overall design of the AMG GT is more aggressive — it has an intensity, while the DB11 goes for beauty.
Inside, the Mercedes-AMG GT is abundantly luxurious, but you can see how Aston Martin has laid claim to a much higher degree of lushness — and prices its cars accordingly.
In place of the DB11’s brogued seats, the AMG GT has this lovely quilted leather. It comes in handy to cushion the car’s very stiff suspension.
The 4.0-litre V8 rocks twin turbochargers, making 550 horsepower with 502 pound-feet of torque in the AMG GT C that we sampled. BUT …
… As I indicated earlier, this is effectively the same V8 that’s under the DB11’s hood. The DB11’s V8 has been detuned by 47 hp.
The base AMG GT has a V8 that cranks out just around 470 horsepower, by the way.
Because they’re the same, the infotainment systems are a dead heat. For the record, Mercedes owns 5% of Aston Martin.
The audio systems aren’t a dead heat. For whatever reason, I’ve always thought Aston audio sounds poor relative to other luxury brands. The Burmester setup in the AMG GT sounds magnificent.
And the winner is the Mercedes AMG GT C!
The deciding factor here is that the Mercedes-AMG GT C is over $US100,000 less expensive than the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. The cars’ 0-60mph times both come it at about four seconds (the AMG GT is hair faster). The Aston is smoother handling, and the its exhaust note is more thrilling, but not $US100,000 more thrilling.
But the Aston has mountains of cool. We’re talking about James Bond’s car here. Inside and out, the DB11 Volante exudes quality, style – and more quality and style. It makes the Mercedes seem uncouth by comparison. And the AMG GT C is a bit rough. Mercedes has come up with a tweener here: half GT car, half sports car, and the sports car half wins out when it comes to the firm suspension and harsh brakes.
So if I want to feel quite special and also enjoy a softer ride at high speed, then it’s gonna be an Aston DB11 for me.
But for spirited driving and a quintessential front-engine, rear-wheel drive experience, I would be happy with the AMG GT. Now obviously, I could cross shop with an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which is notably less pricey than the DB11. But for this comparison, I’m looking at vehicles I’ve recently driven that are in the upper reaches of the GT segment.
Even if money were no object, I think I’d choose the the Mercedes-AMG. But I’d still dream about the Aston DB11 – while also dreaming about the $US100,000 I didn’t spend.
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