At long last, the replacement for the ageing Aston Martin DB9 is here. It’s called the DB11, and it’s just what Gaydon needs to bring itself bang up to date. We’re talking a new bonded-aluminium platform, an all-new engine, and a design that represents the biggest aesthetic departure the company has seen in years.
It’s still a familiar look, although this time we have a much more imposing front end thanks to a wider grille, a pair of angry headlights and some very deep creases on the bonnet. On the subject of the bonnet - as we witnessed when we were given an audience with the car two weeks ago - it’s one flipping massive, front-hinged aluminium pressing. This is all in the name of cutting down on unsightly shut lines, and while we’d hate to think of the cost of replacing it in the event of a prang, it does look pretty damn spectacular when it’s propped up.
At the rear, the whole shebang looks like a cross between the DB10 - James Bond’s ride - and the DBX crossover. And don’t worry, if you’re not keen on the spangly roof ‘strake’, it is body coloured as standard. Is the overall exterior design an improvement on the stunning DB9? We’ll let you decide that, but the styling is arguably a little fussier in places.
The biggest news lies under that aforementioned gargantuan bonnet, in the shape of the 5.2-litre V12 (click here to find out more about the new engine). Gone is the old 5.9-litre naturally-aspirated unit, replaced with an all-new, Aston Martin-developed twin-turbo 12-pot. When we spoke to Aston’s Chief Powertrain Engineer Brian Fitzsimons, he was adamant that it sounds just as good as the old one, and shouldn’t be far off in terms of throttle response either.
What you lose in natural aspiration, you gain in economy, helped by one cylinder bank deactivating when it’s not needed, although there’s no MPG figure just yet as the engine hasn’t been tested for emissions. More importantly for us lot, though, are the power benefits; with 600bhp and 516lb ft of torque, it’s the most powerful production V12 Aston has ever produced, save for the 7.3-litre whopper fitted to the One-77. It’ll do 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds ahead of its 200mph top speed.
All that power is sent rearwards via an eight-speed ZF gearbox - mounted at the back in a transaxle layout as it is in the Vanquish - and a mechanical limited-slip differential with active torque vectoring. The DB11 also gets a set of adaptive Bilstein dampers, which can be adjusted via the car’s three different driving modes. And yes, the power steering is electric, but given how good EPAS systems are getting, that’s not necessarily a cause for alarm.
On the inside, all the nasty bits that cheapened the DB9’s interior are seemingly gone. Most importantly though, there’s a brand new infotainment system which has been co-developed with Mercedes, which should mean that you won’t want to punch the screen while trying to operate it, as you do in other Astons.
It’s a lot bigger inside, too. You get 10mm more headroom in the front, and a massive 54mm improvement in the rear, while legroom up back is up by 87mm. So, this time around you might actually be able to fit normal-sized human beings in the back seats.
The price for all this? £154,900 in the UK, and $211,995 in the USA, with first deliveries taking place during the last quarter of 2016. It’s anticipated that an AMG-sourced V8 will make an appearance at some point to create an entry level model, although Aston Martin itself is yet to confirm anything.
A bit out of your reach and just fancy having a gawp at it in the metal? It’s on display at the Geneva motor show from today.
What do you think of the way it looks? An improvement on the DB9?