I love a good knob. There's something so satisfying about a round piece of knurled metal between your fingers and the delightful click it gives off when you twist it just right. Aston Martin designers love knobs, too, and even in the age of touchscreens, they still believe tactile controls matter.
“We've retained switches; there are no eight touches to open to the glove box or turn the radio down,” Director of Product and Market Strategy Alex Long tells me. “We are controlling our own destiny by using bespoke components.”
The comprehensive new Aston Martin signature cockpit, debuting on the DB12, is ripe with switches and dials. And that attention to detail, even for something as trivial as a knob, is one of many things that makes the new Aston Martin DB12 so special. But of course, it goes well beyond that.
Aston also went all-in with a new custom infotainment system, rather than yet again borrowing an outdated Mercedes-Benz unit, and the DB12 uses an advanced new adaptive suspension. Sure, the V8 underhood still comes from Mercedes-AMG as opposed to other “bespoke components,” but it's not hard to justify when your car has more power than anything else in the segment.
The DB12's verdict was determined using estimates for fuel economy and pricing and will be updated as soon as official information is available. A vehicle's ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.
|Quick Stats||2024 Aston Martin DB12|
|Engine:||Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Litre V8|
|Output:||671 BHP / 590 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH:||3.5 Seconds|
|Top Speed:||202 MPH|
|Base Price:||£185,000 (est)|
|On-Sale Date:||Fall 2023|
Gallery: 2024 Aston Martin DB12: First Drive Review
Tour De France
A 260-mile journey from the outskirts of Monaco into the French Alps is the perfect test for the DB12. Considering Route Napoléon is less than an hour away from the French Riviera, twisting its way through the mountains and around Lac de L'Escale, this is probably where future DB12 owners will end up post–Grand Prix, maybe stopping off on the lake shores for a quick picnic and a glass-o-wine.
No wine for me, thanks – I've got the keys to the DB12 and a belly full of butterflies as I mentally prepare for a drive along the tight roads of the French Riviera.
Aston coined the term “Super Tourer” to describe the new DB12. And whilst that is mostly marketing speak, there is something to it. The DB12 does the touring thing well. The totally reworked suspension compared to the DB11 uses adaptive Bilstein dampers that provide a “slightly underdamped” feel, according to suspension engineers, giving the DB12 a plusher ride than you might expect. And that’s not marketing speak.
The DB12 is much easier to pedal around Monaco than I had imagined. The steering is light but accurate, which makes avoiding oncoming box trucks a cinch, and the Sports seats – basically the mid-tier option between softer and sportier buckets – have an excellent shape with great bolstering. A bit more cushioning would be nice, but that's small potatoes.
An overly generous 671 bhp and 590 pound-feet of torque emanate from the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine. Even with the smallest displacement of any DB model since the DB7, the DB12 packs more power than any of its predecessors and more still than next-best Ferrari, Bentley, and McLaren models. It even has more torque than the old DB11 V12, which had just 516 lb-ft by comparison.
But not even the twin-turbo V8 can overcome the DB12's serenity in city use and slower cruising. Ease into the throttle and a subtle wash of power builds gradually to a healthy 2,750-rpm peak. There's still enough torque for overtaking on two-lane roads, but not so much that the DB12 is bashing you over the head with its power.
The DB12 isn't exactly a Fiat 500 in terms of everyday usability, but damn does it look good cruising along the Mediterranean coast – even with Jeff Bezos’ big, stupid sailboat floating in the water off in the distance.
My biggest worry was scraping the beautiful bodywork up against the cliffs of the French Riviera on my way out of town. The DB12 is almost a full inch wider than the already wide DB11 and has larger wing/fender flares and side sills. It's not exactly a Fiat 500 in terms of everyday usability, but damn does it look good cruising along the Mediterranean coast – even with Jeff Bezos’ big, stupid sailboat floating in the water off in the distance.
Designers moved the hood line and badge up, giving the DB12 the largest grille ever in the brand’s history – maybe the only tick against the otherwise cohesive look. New horizontal running lights fill the larger headlight units, which perfectly line up with the front wing's/fender's side strakes. Lovely 21-inch forged wheels fit the wider wheel wells, and again, as part of Aston's exceptional attention to detail, the rimless side mirrors are a subtle but stylish touch to help reduce some visual mass.
Firing On All Eight Cylinders
As traffic dissipates and the Alps come into view, I look down at the exquisitely knobbed drive mode selector. Two notchy twists engage the DB12's most aggressive setting – Sport Plus – while red graphics wash over the screens, almost as a warning. This is the drive mode you want to be in for a full-out assault on asphalt.
Those DB-first selectable drive modes include Individual, Wet, GT, Sport, and Sport Plus, in that order. And this is the first Aston of any kind with an Individual setting, so if you want the softness of the GT suspension with the excellent exhaust note of the Sport Plus, you can do that.
In Sport Plus, DB12 certainly feels more “super” than “tourer.” There’s a reason Aston and AMG have such a good relationship – this V8 is deadly powerful. I lay into the throttle on the longest straight of Route Napoleon I can find and watch the needle sprint toward the top of the tach. The Ferrari-fighting Brit quickly forces my co-driver and me into our seatbacks as the V8 accelerates with zero hesitation on its way to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds.
The eight-speed automatic downshifts more confidently than I ever could, reacting to even the slightest progression of my foot in the throttle. It even holds gearing deep into the rev range where others typically shift too early, which means my hands stay on the wheel and off the new-for-2023 magnesium paddle shifters, pretty as they are. That allows me to ham-fistedly hurl the DB12 around some of the prettiest roads the French government has ever conceived.
Those same adaptive Bilstein dampers that keep the DB12 so comfortable around the city also help transform it into a corner-carving menace. Paired with a new electronic differential, the DB12 dives into turns with extreme precision, pointing its long nose exactly where you want it to go.
I typically loathe lightweight steering, but the precision Aston engineers coaxed out of the DB12's tiller has me rethinking my position. You can drive this car quickly with one finger and still feel every tiny bump and undulation travelling up from the road, through the suspension, and into your fingertips.
And then there are the tyres; if Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4S rubber is considered a “cheat code,” then the newly developed Pilot Sport S 5 (peep the name change) is like a cheat code within a cheat code. This newly developed rubber grips mightily to the asphalt, keeping the feisty Aston from flicking its ass out on even the slipperiest sweeping turns.
Up To Twelve
Maybe it was the altitude or the Mediterranean air, but the energy around the DB12 felt different. More even than the DBX, the DB12 feels like a fully fleshed-out, completely realised product – as opposed to a mish-mash of bits from other manufacturers. The design is exceptional, the performance is thrilling, and the new infotainment goes toe-to-toe with any other modern system.
And all of that is good news, because the Super Tourer DB12 likely won’t come cheap. Aston Martin hasn’t officially released pricing details, but there will certainly be a healthy uptick over the £165,000 starting price of the outgoing DB11. The first few examples of the DB12 are expected to go on sale later this year, and if my experience in France is any indication, buyers are in for a treat sweeter than a tin full of calissons d’aix.
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