Can Aston Martin's latest GT live up to the iconic DB name?
The DB11 is the latest in a line of gorgeous Aston Martin GT cars, built to satisfy the needs of a buyer who wants a mix of sports car performance and roadholding with the ability to cruise long distances in comfort when needs be. It replaces the highly successful DB9 and its V12 engine is, for the first time ever in an Aston Martin, turbocharged. The company reckons the DB11 is one of its most important models ever.
|Body Style: Coupe||Seats: 4||MRP from £155,000|
Did you know? The Aston DB11 features a clever 'virtual' rear spoiler called the AeroBlade that takes air through the car's bodywork.
Verdict: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8.3/10)
Naturally, it was important that the Aston Martin DB11 improved upon the car it replaced, which it did – and some. But buyers will also consider models from the likes of Bentley, Ferrari and Mercedes, so it needs to be an exceptional car. In short, it is. The beguiling exterior looks hide a fiendishly clever aerodynamic package for a start. The interior is just as appealing, with some truly unique personalisation options, and it's all topped off by a sensational V12 engine and a chassis designed to reward those who love driving.
|Design & Exterior||
|Interior & Comfort||★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)|
|Technology & Connectivity||★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)|
|Performance & Handling||★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)|
|Safety Features||★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)|
|Specs & Trims||★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)|
|Running Costs & Fuel Economy||★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)|
|Good ride/handling mix|
We don’t like
|Not as luxurious as some|
|You'll want to spend lots on options|
|High fuel/tax costs|
Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)
Until the DB11 arrived, criticism had been levelled at Aston Martin for adopting the Russian Doll theory of car design (one look, many different sizes), though that approach happened to result in a range of simply beautiful-looking cars. The DB11 heralds a step change in philosophy, thankfully without losing the seductive lines – and it's still easily identifiable as an Aston Martin.
The design is much edgier than in previous Aston Martins, with lots of sharply delineated curves and incredible attention to detail. Up front is a massive aluminium clamshell bonnet that's hinged from the nose, which itself features a sharper take on the traditional Aston radiator grille. That's flanked by all-LED headlight units. Nothing too radical there, so far. Move around to the side and you'll see 'gills' that extend into the front wheelarches. These house hidden vents to reduce air-pressure build-up in the wheel area, effectively reducing front-end lift at speed. Aston Martin calls them 'curlicues'.
In side profile, the DB11 looks unique while clearly coming from the same designer’s pen as the DB10, the Aston that was made exclusively to be used by 007 in the Spectre film. The roofline sweeps smoothly into the rear window, hiding air inlets for the 'AeroBlade' at the back. This is another clever aerodynamic solution to reduce lift without spoiling the lines of the car. The air shoots through ducts within the car's bodywork and out through a slit atop the rear deck, creating a virtual spoiler. Back there you'll find what Aston says are the slimmest rear LED lights in the world – and they look great too, helping to emphasise the width of the car.
Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)
At this price level, a sense of occasion is as important as outright space, and the DB11 has a very special interior. You appreciate that even before you get in, the doors swinging slightly up as well as out as they open. Some will lament the loss of the old 'drop-down' handbrake, but it's a sign that the DB11's cabin is a thoroughly contemporary affair. Those familiar with the infotainment systems of a modern Mercedes-Benz will recognise the menu structure and control strategy for the sharp eight-inch display screen in the centre of the dashboard. Aston has done a good job of restyling it and virtually all the other minor controls, though, so it doesn't feel out of place. The high-res TFT screen that displays the car's instruments in front of the driver is a particular highlight.
Just as impressive is the craftsmanship on display inside. There are seemingly endless customisation options and stunning leatherwork in particular. Buyers can specify Nexus quilting, Celestial perforation and even intricate brogue detailing inspired by shoemaking. Along with that are various trim panel finishes, from traditional to open-grain wood to high-tech carbon, and real alloy is used for items such as the (usefully large) gearshift paddles and door handles.
Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)
Inside the DB11 there are two TFT display screens. A 12-inch item sits ahead of the driver and it looks great, although it isn't as configurable as we've come to expect in the latest items from the likes of Audi. A separate eight-inch screen sits in the middle of the dashboard like a standalone tablet, to display all the infotainment. It's accessed via a highly intuitive rotary control and – assuming you tick that options box – a touchpad. There's Bluetooth music streaming and a Wi-Fi option, but, curiously, no smartphone mirroring function as yet. Aston Martin has caught up in some respects, though, offering buyers parallel and parking space assistance, plus a 360-degree bird’s-eye camera. There's no sign of any semi-autonomous driving technology, but we'd argue that, if you buy an Aston, odds are you want to drive it for yourself.
Performance & Handling ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)
A top speed of 200mph gives the owner bragging rights, even if they're never likely to experience such a velocity for themselves. The performance figures for the Aston Martin DB11, impressive as they are, tell only half the story. The 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds is more instructive, as it shows not only how the 5.2-litre V12 engine's considerable 608hp and 516lb ft of torque can hurl the big DB11 down the road, but also that the rear wheels are finding decent traction off the line. That's partly to do with the car's excellent weight distribution (51/49 front/rear), made possible by the mounting of the engine far back in the chassis.
But it's away from the benchmark tests that the DB11 really impresses, as all that torque is on tap from just 1500rpm through to 5000rpm. That's thanks to the two turbochargers bolted to the engine, and it means the car is quick to respond to the accelerator seemingly regardless of speed, engine revs or gear. In the raciest of its three modes the response is cracklingly sharp, with hair-trigger gearshifts and an exhaust note to match.
The eight-speed automatic transmission’s main functions are controlled by buttons, but gears can be selected manually using tactile alloy paddles behind the steering wheel. The transmission very good in fully automatic mode, too. Some say the twin turbos have a numbing effect on the V12 engine at the top of the rev counter, but it's a formidable powerplant by any measure and it sounds absolutely sensational throughout the rev range. So much so that Aston chose to fit a 'quiet start' mode for those that want to leave the house a little more stealthily…
That V12 should dominate proceedings, but it's well matched by the DB11's chassis. There are steel coil springs, anti-roll bars and three-stage adaptive dampers all round, held by double wishbones up front and a multi-link arrangement at the back, plus a mechanical limited-slip differential and super-direct electric power assisted steering. This last item is not quite as communicative as older hydraulically-assisted systems, making the wide DB11 feel larger and harder to place on the road than its DB9 predecessor until you get used to it. Once you have done that, you’ll love the steering’s speed of response.
The suspension is undoubtedly biased towards someone who really enjoys driving. Those three modes, GT, Sport, and Sport+, adjust the damping, steering and the 'Active Torque Vectoring via brakes' system to suit, as well as the throttle response, ttransmission and exhaust note. It's highly effective, allowing the DB11 be at its most comfortable in GT mode and most hardcore in Sport+ guise. That said, it's never quite as luxurious or refined as the likes of the Bentley, Rolls-Royce or Mercedes alternatives. Bumpy backroads jostle the DB11’s occupants if you’re not going fast enough to smooth them out, even in GT mode, but it manages to avoid being bone-jarringly firm.
The fitment of steel brake discs (big ones, admittedly) indicates that this is a car designed for road use first and foremost. It’s engaging and enjoyable to hustle when the route turns interesting, while excelling on fast sweeping corners out in the countryside. Transverse ridges can upset its composure, and it’s really too wide for a British country lane, but otherwise the DB11 a fabulous way to cover a lot of ground quickly.
Recommended Engine (there is only one): 5.2 V12
|0-62 MPH||3.9 seconds|
|Fuel Economy||24.8 mpg|
Safety Features ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)
High-end luxury and sports cars aren't put through the benchmark EuroNCAP safety tests, so there's no rating for the DB11. But as with all cars with its elevated performance, the structure is inherently stiff and strong and the braking system is engineered to cope with much higher speeds than most drivers will achieve day-to-day. The DB11 also features a sophisticated – and configurable – stability control system. Standard equipment includes side airbags in the front seats, dual-stage front airbags for driver and passenger, knee protection airbags and side curtain airbags.
Specs & Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)
We counted 35 individual colours in the standard palette, from the amusingly named Hardly Green to the eye-catching Frosted Glass Blue, Yellow Tang, and Madagascar Orange. And that's only the start. The front splitter, rear diffuser and side sills can be finished in silver or black, there are five takes on a core 20-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheel design, five brake-caliper colours, the roof strakes can be either silver, black or body colour, the roof itself can be body colour or gloss black, there are bright or dark options for the grille, exhaust outlets and side strakes, three options for the bonnet blades and meshes, and even a gold finish option for the engine bay. Don't get us started on what you can do to the interior. There really is something for everyone there, though if you'd like a completely unique appearance, there's always the 'Q by Aston Martin' personalisation service, where the limits are set by the success of your offshore investment portfolio...
You could drive yourself crazy on Aston Martin's DB11 configurator with all those choices and options, or you could choose from one of the six 'DB11 Designer' specifications. These are called New Heritage, Soft Tech, Shanghai Fashionista, Mysterious Sport, Intrepid Sport, and Iconic Craft, each with its own character and a unique mix of colours for the exterior and interior.
Size & Dimension
We'd expect buyers of the DB11 to have more of a car storage barn than garage… It's a large car (except in height), but no more so than others in the segment. The width is worth watching if you really are stuck for space.
Running Costs & Fuel Economy ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)
Let's face it; if you're in the market for a V12-engined GT car, it's unlikely you're going to linger too long over the car's economy and emissions figures. Aston Martin quotes 25mpg for the DB11, which might be possible if you're a saint, and its 265g/km CO2 emissions rating means £2000 in VED in year one and £450 for the next five years. All of the Aston's rivals have the same 'first world problem'.
Reliability and servicing
The Aston Martin DB11 is too new to make a call on reliability, though the signs are good for the core components. The electrics are from Mercedes-Benz, for example, and the automatic transmission is from world-renowned ZF. It remains to be seen whether the interior maintains its quality over time.
UK cars come with a five-year servicing plan. After that, servicing is every year or 10,000 miles, with pollen and air filters recommended every 20,000 miles and a coolant change every five years or 50,000 miles.
Pricing: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)
Prices start at about £155,000, which puts the DB11 in a surprisingly sparse part of the market. It's considerably less than equivalent cars from Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, instead sitting between V8 and twelve-cylinder versions of the Bentley Continental GT and the Mercedes-AMG S-Class Coupe. Saying all that, buyers are likely to make such comparisons irrelevant by spending tens of thousands of pounds on personalisation and high-end options.
|Car Enthusiast||The Intrepid Sport version features Cinnabar Orange paint with dark and broody wheels and detailing on the outside.|
|Tech Junkie||Mix the Soft Tech Designer Specification model with a few choice extras, such as the touchpad interface inside.|
|Trend Setter||The dark grey exterior of the Iconic Craft model hides a bang-on-trend interior with book-matched wood and brogued leather.|
|Bentley Continental GT||Not as overtly pretty as the Aston, but absolutely brilliant at mixing supercar pace with luxury car comfort.|
|Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T||Much more expensive even 'only' with a V8 engine, but it's a little faster than the Aston and surprisingly roomy.|
|Rolls-Royce Wraith||Costlier to buy, but similar technical specification to the Aston. However, the Rolls puts quietness and luxury first.|
|Mercedes-AMG S-Class||Feels like a luxury car and has superb refinement, plus serious performance kick. Choose from V8 or V12 S 63 or S 65.|
|Porsche Panamera Turbo||A lot more space (and doors), but just as fast as the Aston and now quite stylish too. 'Sensible' in this company.|
What others say
|Top Gear||"A solid start to a future portfolio that will be studded with flashier and faster members than this, but none that is quite so suited to being enjoyed every day, wherever you’re heading."|
|Autocar||"We can think of no other GT car at its price point we’d rather drive. Even next to more exotic competition, the DB11 is well capable of holding its own."|