Aston Martin DB11 V12 Coupe
So, here it is, our review on the first of the next generation of Aston Martins.
After the huge success of the DB9 which lasted well over a decade Aston Martin’s new Grand Tourer the DB11 has a huge reputation to live up to and with the collaboration with Mercedes-Benz things certainly got off to a rocky start as far as the purists were concerned, but as a rep from Aston Martin said to us, AM had to evolve or die and evolution was the obvious solution.
Enough procrastination, after our first look review at the DB11 at its launch, finally JCS got our hands on one so we could bring you a review. So¦¦.What’s it like?
I would love to have been able to say the new DB11 basically just improved on the DB9 and it was positives all-round, however I cant¦¦¦.
That doesnt mean the new DB11 is a disaster though, because it isnt. It is a stunning feat of technology, design and engineering but off the bat it doesnt feel like its 100% Aston Martin. That’s because, put simply it isnt.
First of all lets deal with the elephant in the room. Mercedes-Benz. The electronics, technology and navigation have been taken from Mercedes. On the face of it that is not a bad thing. The old Volvo based navigation was practically pre-historic compared to even the latest budget supermini as was much of the rest of the technology (or what there was of it). So now you have a digital dash, a sat-nav that works, the clever iDrive style covered wheel found in modern Mercs and everything just works. So, what am I complaining about then? Well, whilst Aston Martin have used all the technology from Mercedes, they have not hidden this fact.
The stuck on landscape screen in the centre of the dash ruins what used to be a sweeping, clean and uncluttered dash. The jog wheel set-up is simply transplanted from the C/E/S/G Class Merc which immediately reduces the exclusive feel you once got with an Aston Martin (so long as you didnt look too hard for Ford Switchgear). Then there is the instrument cluster. The counter rotating dials Aston Martin owners have come to love, which looked stunning have been replaced by a bland generic digital dash that could have come from anywhere. Oh, and they have done away with the Glass ECU Key¦.
Now I know I sound like I am going on a bit but bear with me¦.When you sit in an Aston Martin you want to feel special. Part of an exclusive club of owners who look at something few are lucky enough to look at. Not any more, when you pull up at the lights in a DB11 next to an E-Class Diesel Estate, you now know you are staring at the same Digital Dash, same Sat Nav and same infotainment controls.
Specification wise, the adoption of the Mercedes-Benz system means that Aston Martin has been catapulted into the 21st Century, the old Volvo based navigation system has been rightly replaced and the other technology available as standard far surpasses the old DB9. The DB11 includes 360 cameras with front & rear parking sensors, DAB Radio, Bluetooth Hands Free, Sat Nav that works with far more advanced features, stop/start technology, electric front seats, cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone climate control, 400w sound system, 12³ infotainment display, to mention just the bare basics. The options for customisation and personalisation are almost infinitesimal.
Following on from such positive advancements, the rest of the interior of the DB11 is somewhat more exclusive. The sumptuous leather cossets you on the sculpted seats which you do feel you sit on a little more than in (but that could have been us just not finding the correct position).
Ok so what about the DB11’s overall looks? Well, per our first look review, the new DB11 is stunning to look at. It has had a complete overhaul, bearing no resemblance with its ever-so successful DB9 predecessor other than the fact it has 4 wheels and 2 doors.
Starting from the clamshell bonnet giving you a completely unbroken line at the front of the car you are drawn in. Due to this design the DB11 almost has no front wing with the huge wheels accented by the wing vents. The side of the DB11 is clean and uncluttered which leads on to its wide haunches and integrated air scoop behind the rear quarter windows moving back you are not presented with any aerodynamic wing to improve handling rather a clever vent going across the rear of the vehicle from which the air ducted from behind the rear quarter windows is expelled creating a virtual wing to create downforce. This clever aerodynamic technology makes the DB11 look as sleek and dynamic as it does but the lack of rear wing does mean the DB11 is a notably softer in its overall styling compared to its predecessor. The rear lights of the DB11 keep some of the essence of the universally used rear cluster from the outgoing Vantage, DB9, Virage, but again they have been modernised with good effect.
So, inside and out the new DB11 is all change. Objectively this is all positive too, however subjectively the prevalence of Mercedes inside the DB11 is a little excessive and takes away some of the exclusive feel from the DB9.
But what is it like to drive? In summary, the new DB11 is an excellent drive.
Performance wise, the new 5.2l Twin Turbo-charged V12 power plant is impressive with a huge 608hp and 516lb ft of torque, promising you acceleration from 0-62mph in just 3.9s and an impressive 200mph top speed. The 8 Speed ZF Auto box is lightning quick making the Touchtronic III found in the DB9 feel like you were changing cogs on an old steam tractor. But, and here is the controversial bit, it has lost some if its character. The console like instantaneous gear changes lose some of the soul and character of the Touchtronic III. Yes the new box is perfect and is up there with the likes of the R8 V10 Plus reviewed here, but this is a luxury GT and the sense of manic urgency in the gear changes is unnecessary.
Whilst the purists will be crying foul at the loss of a naturally aspirated V12 in favour of the twin-turbo V12 we have now, I must concede Aston Martin have made the right decision here. The asymmetrical twin-turbos ensure there is no lag and you are presented with smooth power delivery that you can control with the flappy paddles to keep control and prevent manic up changes so you can enjoy the sweet exhaust note which is as good, if not better than the DB9. The 8-speed auto comes with 3 modes, GT, Sport, and Sport+. To be honest we just jumped in at the deep end with Sport+ and the rapid throttle response and hanging onto the gears longer made the car feel and sound excellent but taking over control with the flappy paddles gave the most authentic Aston Martin experience giving the control back to the driver.
It is also worth noting that Aston Martin have released a 4.0l V8 Twin-Turbo variant of the DB11 using the AMG engine found in the likes of the C63S (which we have reviewed here) to compete, we presume, against the Bentley Continental GT V8 which we have also reviewed here). For those worried about the Mercedes-Benz influence on the infotainment and technology side of things this will certainly have the purists choking on their cornflakes.
Handling wise, the DB11 is lighter and more agile than the DB11, there is no doubting its superiority on this basis. The steering feels direct and precise and the chassis transmits the road through to you as the driver perfectly, with only severe acceleration tripping the traction control to rein you in when it was a little slimy but it certainly does not nanny you like some systems, or restrict you like others such as that found in the Porsche Panamera (review here).
Overall, as a GT the new Aston Martin DB11 is an excellent car making the bloated Bentley Continental GT look like it was carved out of granite and feel like its made of granite. But this is an Aston Martin and that means it needs to be something special, it needs to make you feel like you are in the most prestigious brand motor car in the world and the new DB11 for all its excellent features does not.
efore I conclude it is worth noting Aston Martin have clearly stated they are looking to appeal to the next generation of owners, who will want the technology and gadgets and to survive this makes sense for Aston Martin, but as a 30-something I feel qualified as one such client and the DB11, to me, misses the mark and fells like its competing with the likes of the Audi R8, AMG GT, Lamborghini Huracan etc which it simply does not need to do. If you are looking at an R8 you will almost certainly not even be considering an Aston Martin. Honestly its only competitor is the Bentley Continental which has just been trounced by Aston’s DB11.
You buy an Aston Martin, not because it has the latest and greatest infotainment system, not because it has a lightning fast gearbox, not because its engine is now more efficient thanks to start stop technology and twin turbos. You buy an Aston Martin because you want to feel special, like you are in something that few others are privileged enough to experience and the new DB11, sadly does not provide this as well as it could have.
Facts & Figures Aston Martin DB11 V12 Coupe
Engine: 5.2l V12 Petrol Twin-Turbo
Transmission: 8 Speed ZF Automatic
Top Speed: 200mph
Fuel Economy (Combined): Who cares? But if you do its 24.8mpg
CO2 Emissions: 265g/km (if you care)
If you would like to find out more about the new Aston Martin DB11, please contact Chris Jackson at JCS Prestige on 01223 911 761 or contact us via the enquiry form below.