Aston Martin DB9

Facelifted grand tourer is better than ever

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Beautifully styled and with an incredible V12 engine, the DB9 is one desirable car. And now, thanks to this updated model with new adaptive dampers, it’s one of the best grand tourers you can buy, offering an agile yet cosseting ride. It isn’t perfect – the interior is let down by some of its switches – but the DB9 will prove hard to resist for even the most seasoned supercar owner.

Charles Darwin would approve of Aston Martin’s DB9! Since its launch in 2003, the British sports car maker has improved the V12-engined grand tourer by a process of steady evolution.

Over the years it has received more power, updated suspension settings and revisions to its Touchtronic automatic gearbox. And now for 2010, it gets a mild facelift and adaptive dampers from the DBS. Does it all add up to the best DB9 yet?

The visual changes are certainly understated. The latest DB9 has a new lower bumper with a mesh grille, mildly tweaked headlights, slightly different side skirts and clear lenses for the tail-lamps. New 20-spoke alloys are standard, too, although our car wore optional 10-spoke rims. Thankfully, the updates are so subtle they don’t compromise the DB9’s elegance. Even after all these years, it’s still a very attractive car, with beautifully judged classic long-bonnet, short-tail proportions.

Inside, new options include a mighty Bang & Olufsen stereo, although the cabin is pretty much the same as before. That means gorgeous soft leather for the facia, seats and transmission tunnel, and metal-style trim everywhere else.

Downsides are the Volvo-sourced electric window switches and sat-nav system, plus the total lack of rear space, which renders the DB9 a two-seater.

The new Adaptive Damping System (ADS) is a big success, though. Borrowed from the DBS, it constantly assesses road conditions to provide the best balance between comfort and body control. In Normal mode, it offers a compliant ride that allows the car to float over bumps, yet stay planted in corners. In Sport mode, it’s stiffer and offers even sharper responses. There’s still some of the corkscrew motion from the rear suspension at high speed on really bumpy roads that we noticed in other DB9s, but otherwise this latest version is a joy to drive.

The steering can take a lot of credit for that. Gone is the kickback that blighted earlier cars, and what remains is a smooth, linear and quick system which provides plenty of feel. The optional Touchtronic gearbox is another star performer, offering slick shifts in full automatic mode and snappy changes with the wheel-mounted paddles.

The charismatic 470bhp 6.0-litre V12 engine hasn’t been updated, but it didn’t need to be. Its wailing soundtrack and epic pace, with punch right to the 6,000rpm red line, are a heady mix. Is this the best DB9 yet? Definitely. When it comes to GT cars, it’s the natural selection.

Rival: Bentley Conti. GTC The Bentley coupé provides an amazing mix of blistering acceleration, four-wheel-drive traction and superb long-distance comfort. But when compared to the light-on-its-feet DB9, it feels heavy.

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