2018 Aston Martin DB11 V12 essentials: Grand touring cars don’t get much grander
What is it: An ultra-sporty (and ultra-expensive) GT car, the V12-powered Aston Martin DB11 does battle in the way upper stratosphere with the likes of Audi’s R8 V10, Bentley’s Continental GT Speed and Porsche’s 911 Turbo. The "base" DB11’s 600 hp twin-turbo V12 simply might not be enough for you. Aston understands your plight, and has you covered with the DB11 AMR, a step up in power to 630 along with revised chassis and suspension bits to handle the extra oooomph.
Key Competitors: Bentley Continental GT, Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe, Ferrari GTC4Lusso
Base Price: $219,581 As-Tested Price: $258,402
Full review: 2017 Aston Martin DB11 first drive
Highlights: The DB11 was launched in spring 2016 at the Geneva motor show, replacing the DB9. There was a DB10, too. It starred in the Bond film Spectre. Anyway, since the DB9 was launched in 2003, the DB11 is the first new Aston in a decade and a huge step for Aston, ushering in new technology, new engines and a new styling direction. How huge a step? At the launch, Aston boss Andy Palmer called the DB11 “the most important car in the firm’s 103-year existence. If it fails, Aston fails.” So no pressure, then.
Our Opinion: Even though it’s new top to bottom, in some ways the DB11 is sort of a throwback: sweptback stance, a V12 stuffed under the loooonnngggg and gorgeous clamshell hood…DB line director Paul Barritt has in fact called the DB lineup “our 911. It’s our iconic nameplate. It will continue to embody the spirit of Aston Martin and remain at the core of the brand. I expect it to always be there.”
One can only hope he’s right; there’s nothing quite like having V12 power on tap, and the more the better. We first drove the then newly launched DB11 in Tuscany in August, 2016. The location presented a few challenges: Vans crisscrossing in front of us, perhaps someone stopped smack in the middle of the road taking in the sights, animals running to and fro. Detroit’s notorious pothole-strewn roads of course can ratchet up the anxiety even more, depending on the car. Whenever a colleague returns from Europe yammering about how great the car was, I always think “let’s see how it does here.”
So here we are with a DB11 in Detroit. What a pleasant surprise! It proved just fine around these parts.
As we’ve said about other DB11s we’ve driven, the interior is a huge improvement over the DB9. The leather is gorgeous and “smells like a Milanese handbag showroom,” as we said on our Tuscany drive. We also said “the seats feel as nice as any upholstery we’ve felt in a car or elsewhere.” Comfy indeed, though a wee bit more support would make them even better. The Mercedes-Benz-sourced infotainment system and center console switchgear -– as well as the behind-the-scenes electronics -- work much better, too.
Even in Detroit the ride feels fine no matter the mode, though after a couple days I find myself liking the middle, or sport, setting best (the others are GT and sport plus). It feels like the right combo of a fine ride with near zero body roll in corners. Sport-plus makes the car bounce around a bit. In sport I feel like I could go all day. In fact that’d be nice.
It’s a big car, measuring 15-feet long, so running around town I am careful to note where its corners are. Where the Aston really shines is out on fast, curving roads. Out there its movements are relaxed and fluid and I can best take advantage of the glorious 600 hp. It’s also where I can best listen to the sensational exhaust note – rich and rumbling at lower revs, growly and snarly and pitch-perfect as the rpms climb. According to Aston the car can hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. That doesn’t sound like all that, frankly, but it feels plenty quick to me. Also according to Aston it has responded to criticism that the DB11’s electrically assisted steering is too light, and now it feels accurate and responsive.
In an interview we did with Barritt in August, he talked about a car-business stereotype where engineers, bean counters and marketers are often at odds. “I’ve learned you’re never going to keep everybody happy,” he said, “because, ultimately, what you’re trying to do is get to a compromise. Don’t believe anybody who says they can do a car without compromise because you’re always trading one thing for another. It’s what you have to do.”
He’s a lot smarter than I am so I’ll take his word for it. But I sure don’t see much compromise in this DB11. It’s got all the performance, comfort and beauty you could want. I don’t think Andy Palmer has anything to worry about.
--Wes Raynal, editor
Options: Premium audio ($8,330), 10 speakers, directional, shadow chrome ($3,785), dark exterior finisher pack ($3,190), piano black trim inlay ($2,690), match to seat inner color/finish ($2,270), nexus quilting ($2,270), contemporary leather color ($1,828), contemporary paint ($1,828), red brake calipers ($1,595), ventilated front seats ($1,595), dark chrome jewelry pack ($1,595), black bodypack ($1,020), powered stowage ($750), blind spot assistance ($750), two color leather interior ($750), DB11 logo headrest embroidery ($750), smoked rear lamps ($750), touchpad ($750), contrast stitching ($570), spice red seatbelts ($570), garage door opener ($450), base floor mats ($295), umbrella ($295) and V12 side fender badges ($145)