Tuesday, August 30, 2016
2017 Aston Martin DB11 Review
A test drive of Aston Martin’s DB11 $212,000 super-sports luxury coupe. Nail the gas pedal and the landscape runs to watercolor
The 2017 Aston Martin DB11 is what they call a grand touring car, or gran turismo—not small and spare like a proper sports car, but big, kingly and fast, with accommodations for two, or 2+2, and light luggage. Front-engine, if you please. Gran turismos branch along the lines of road and racing models. The all-new DB11—even with the prodigious 600-hp V12 in its snout—is the former, while the latter is something like the Nissan GT-R. Track riffraff.
The DB11 is a road car, a big, voluptuous road car, a strider, a pacer—always graceful in the moment, untaxed, always a sense of great latency. I thought driving it was like saddling up on He-Man’s Battle Cat, though I grant that isn’t a very good advertising strapline.
But it’s emphatically big. From front splitter to tailpipes, the DB11 is about an inch longer than the DB9 but wider by 2.7 inches, and the extra width seems more like a foot stretched across the DB11’s tumescent hood. Honestly, from the driver’s seat, the hood looks like the Jolly Green Giant’s tongue as seen from his tonsils. Placing the DB11 on narrow English lanes—the tongue lolling from corner to corner—took more than the usual attention.
Wieldiness is a thing GT cars should have; the DB11 has rather less of it than one would hope.
Replacing the long-serving DB9, the DB11 (DB stands for Sir David Brown, the company’s postwar owner and savior) is a super-sports luxury coupe costing $211,995 in the U.S., just to get the paperwork rolling. The public servants at the headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, will be delighted to upsell you on fabulous paint, upholstery and trim options, of which there are multitudes.
For example, the DB11 offers a new personalization flourish in the roof strake, in gloss black, metallic or body color. This may or may not be tarty. I haven’t decided.
The interior color and trim options include morally reprehensible choices such as blue mica door and dash trim, and you can order the leather with more quilting than a Lutheran fundraiser. Our test car’s Sahara Tan/Bitter Chocolate was trimmed in broguing like an English wingtip. And…just stop. You had me at broguing.
Aston is one of the few companies that builds its own seats from scratch. In a world with a lot of 600-hp cars, frankly, the company aspires to the same handcrafting as Savile Row cordwainers.
The DB11 steps into the bullring with such preening, trouser-stuffed matadors as the Bentley Continental GT. The Aston is roughly bracketed in price and prestige by the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta on the high end (in the neighborhood of $325,000) and the Mercedes-AMG GT S, a screaming bargain in this company at $131,200. The Mercedes has a twin-turbo V8, though, and everybody knows you can’t be truly gran with one of those.
The talking points for DB11 include a new more space-efficient aluminum skeleton relying more on pressed aluminum substructures than large-section aluminum extrusions. Sure enough, the DB11’s front cabin luxuriates in more interior inches overhead and at the heel and elbow. The trunk is a bit larger and more usable, a fact with outsize importance for a road GT. The rear seats remain vestigial.
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