When I first laid eyes on the Aston Martin DB11 at the 86th International Geneva Motor Show earlier this year I wasn’t sure on it. The front end was undoubtedly beautiful, a perfect evolution of the signature design ethos of the British marque, and the sweeping side profile looked slightly elongated and very elegant. It was the rear end that struck me though. It was a complete departure from the familiar rear views we’ve come to expect from Aston, a look that can loosely trace its roots back to the DB7 that was first introduced in 1994, over twenty years ago. The point is, Aston Martin’s design code famously hasn’t changed an awful lot in recent times; they found their formula and stuck to it, and rightly so, producing some of the most beautiful cars ever in the process. So in completely redesigning the rear of the DB11, their new flagship model, Aston has played a bold and brilliant move.
The rest of the DB11 is new too though, from the ground up. There’s the brilliant new front-hinging clamshell bonnet, (one of the largest to ever be put into production), which eliminates the need for shut lines on the body, creating a cleaner look yet it also reveals the (also new) 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 in dramatic fashion. Speaking of the engine, there was much speculation as to how Aston Martin’s first turbocharged engine would perform, but more importantly sound. Turbos have been known to kill engine noise, and so much of the visceral appeal of Astons has traditionally been down to their exhaust note, particularly with the distinct, gravelly howl of their naturally-aspirated V12s. Fears were instantly quelled though once the DB11 was fired up and the twelve cylinders burbled eagerly to life. The engine sings under full load, yet most impressively it doesn’t perform like a traditional turbocharged car; there’s virtually no turbo-lag at low rev ranges although the top end is lacking slightly over the naturally aspirated cars of old, which is to be expected. It’s Aston’s most powerful ‘DB’ ever, with a total of 600bhp and 516b ft of torque, propelling the 1170kg mass to 60mph from standstill in just 3.9 seconds. The 200mph top speed is not to be sniffed at either.
The DB11 is a comfortable, languid long distance cruiser, yet when the time arises it shifts with the best of them. For those long drives though, it’s essential that the cabin presents a user friendly experience. So Aston’s new technical partnership with Daimler is a smart move, giving the marque access to the German firm’s time-tested, reliable computer systems. The overall feeling of quality you get behind the wheel of the DB11 is particularly notable. Of course, no longer are Aston Martins coach-built like the old days, yet the level of hand-finishing is impressive nonetheless. The newly-designed seats are wrapped in the finest cow-hides and stitched together entirely by hand, and new for the DB11 is interior ‘broguing’, which are small perforations in the leather inspired by Goodyear-welted shoes hand-made in Northampton. Every detail is accounted for and executed to perfection.
The DB11 is a huge step forward for Aston Martin. The latest in an illustrious family line, it’s the most forward-thinking, technologically advanced automobile they’ve ever produced. Although not as futuristic as some of its rivals, it’s boasts the perfect combination of contemporary, usable technology and classic Aston Martin character, easily placing it at the top of the GT class food chain. It may also be the finest looking machine on the market, although that may change when the long-standing Vantage is replaced in 2017. For now, we’ll have one in Onyx Black, please.