Aston Martin DB11 review
The Aston Martin DB11 is an old-school grand tourer that blends gorgeous looks with blistering performance and surprising comfort
The Aston Martin DB11 is the brand’s first all-new car in nearly 14 years. Heavily influenced by the DB10 that starred in the James Bond movie Spectre, the DB11 sets the tone for future Aston Martin models. The DB11 isn't just a pretty face, either, as the flowing lines hide clever aerodynamic additions that both deliver downforce and reduce drag.
Yet, it’s the way the car rides and handles that really impresses. It’s claimed to be the softest Aston yet, meaning it flows over bumps with a supple poise that its predecessor can’t match. However, this comfort doesn’t affect the handling, as the DB11 displays remarkable agility and control for a car that tips the scales at over 1,800kg.
The cabin mixes cutting-edge style and electronics supplied by Mercedes, although some of the materials and finish are some way short of the likes of the Bentley Continental or even the Audi R8. Cramped rear seats and hefty running costs also count against the DB11, but for many buyers the car’s ravenous thirst for fuel won’t be a problem.
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Besides, that doesn't detract from the DB11 being one of the fastest and most desirable long-distance cruisers money can buy.
The Aston Martin DB11 is the replacement for the long-running DB9, and it brings up-to-date technology to Aston's range of large-capacity grand tourers. At the top of the range, power still comes from a V12 engine, but the 5.2-litre unit is a brand-new design that features twin turbos to give the car 600bhp and 700Nm of torque. It's mated to an eight-speed auto gearbox mounted on the transaxle, and as a result performance is electric, with the 0-62mph sprint taking just 3.9 seconds.
Although it only went on sale in 2016, Aston replaced the V12 DB11 with the DB11 AMR in 2018. This features the same V12 engine, but with 630bhp instead of 600bhp. Tweaked dampers, gearbox settings and a new exhaust also feature in the AMR, together with extra carbon fibre on the bonnet, sills and cabin.
For even more performance, Aston Martin sell a DBS Superleggera version which manages to eke a staggering 715bhp and 900Nm from the same V12 engine. There's also a DB11 V8, which is substantially cheaper to buy. And, although, it loses out to the V12 in many ways - it only develops a 'mere' 503bhp and 685Nm of torque, for example - we think it's a better model overall.
Fans of luxurious drop tops, meanwhile, are taken care of by the soft-top DB11 Volante. Available only with the V8 engine, the Volante sacrifices little in the way of performance to its coupe stablemate, while the addition of a folding roof does little to spoil the car's flowing lines.
As well as new engines, the DB11 uses an all-new platform that will be used on a number of Aston's next models, including the 2018 Vantage and the DBX crossover. The new structure is far stiffer than before, but while it features plenty of aluminium in its construction, the DB11 still weighs over 1,800kg.
In whatever guise you opt for, the DB11 has a lot of power. To transmit its performance to the road, the DB11 has an advanced chassis featuring sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, double wishbone up front and standard-fit adaptive dampers. AMR and DBS versions share a similar set up, but with the dampers, suspension bushes and anti-roll bars tightened up.
Aston Martin's twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 is smaller than the 6.0-litre unit in the DB9, but it's more powerful. Peak power was 600bhp in the DB11 V12, but now stands at 630bhp in the DB11 AMR, while both cars have 700Nm of torque available from as low as 1,500rpm.
That's a lot of power to put to the Tarmac, but the DB11's new chassis features a sophisticated multi-link rear axle set-up, double wishbones up front and standard-fit adaptive dampers, with the dampers, suspension bushes and anti-roll bar tightened up for the AMR version.
Aston claims that the DB11 is the softest Aston ever, but while it's very comfortable, the dampers can control wheel movement, so the DB11 still delivers sharp and agile handling.
On the outside, the DB11 takes inspiration from James Bond's exclusive DB10, and it's easily recognisable as an Aston, with a low-slung shape, long bonnet and short rear end. But the lines are thoroughly modern, with sharp lines and plenty of design features to turn heads, while also providing aerodynamic efficiency to keep the car glued to the road without the need to add ungainly wings to the elegant bodywork. Aston also offers a range of personalisation options for customers, so buyers can tailor their car to their desires.
That personalisation carries over to the cabin, which is hand-made and features plenty of wood and leather, as you would expect. What you might not expect is the Mercedes-sourced switchgear that's used in the cabin. Aston has signed up with Mercedes to provide the electronic systems, so you get Merc's Comand control wheel on the centre console, as well as its familiar single-stalk wiper/light control behind the steering wheel. However, these parts are well integrated and don't detract from the Aston's high-class finish.
With prices starting not far short of £150,000, there aren't many rivals for the Aston Martin DB11, but they do exist. Chief among these is the Bentley Continental GT, which delivers the same kind of luxury and performance that a hand-built British grand tourer can manage. Elsewhere, the Mercedes S-Class Coupe is an upmarket alternative that also has V12 power in AMG 65 guise, while the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso is another front-engined GT, although one that costs nearly twice as much. Another pricey alternative is the Rolls-Royce Wraith.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Aston Martin DB11 is an old-school grand tourer that blends gorgeous looks with blistering performance and surprising comfort
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe switch to turbocharging hasn’t robbed the Aston V12 of character, while the ride and handling balance is excellent
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsTurbocharged engines boost efficiency, but you’ll still need deep pockets to run the DB11
- 4Interior, design and technologyBold design and cutting edge infotainment system boost appeal, but quality of DB11 inside isn't as good as the best rivals
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceDB11 is surprisingly practical for a car in this class, but the rear seats are very cramped
- 6Reliability and SafetyDB11 is a brand new car, but history suggests it should be robust while partnership with Mercedes is a bonus