New Aston Martin DBS Superleggera 2018 review

We give our verdict as the flagship Aston Martin DBS Superleggera hits British roads for the first time

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera shares everything that made the DB11 special, amplifying almost every aspect for the better. The V12 engine might not have the excitement of a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, but otherwise it’s phenomenal. You could argue that the more spacious, equally comfortable Ferrari is the better grand tourer, but the DBS is a wonderful machine nonetheless.

However you look at it, 900Nm is a lot of torque. There are a number of reasons why driving an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera feels like an event, but it’s that shove that dominates the experience.

The DBS sits above the DB11 V12 as the most extreme car to use Aston’s latest aluminium-bonded platform. But there are a range of tweaks designed to make the DBS faster, sharper and more exciting.

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From some angles, the DB11 can look a little contrived – its C-pillars appear a bit fussy, for example – but the DBS is prettier. Combined with the new full-width rear light bar and huge grille, it’s more aggressive and more handsome than its older relation.

Colour and trim aside, from behind the wheel the DBS looks much the same as the DB11. You sit very low, and there’s plenty of adjustment in the driving position. It feels special, but there are a couple of details that let the side down: while the Mercedes-derived plastic column stalks feel sturdy enough at C-Class money, you’d hope for something more luxurious at this price.

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The same goes for the infotainment set-up. Essentially, it shares its hardware with the old E-Class, only with Aston’s graphics. The menus are clunky, and the touchpad feels awkward to use. A Ferrari GTC4 Lusso is more practical, too, because the back seats in the Aston are almost useless.

But these are only mild complaints. The draw of the Superleggera only presents itself once you prod the starter button. Think of it as a DB11-plus; every area of the driving experience has been amplified or improved to brilliant effect.

The engine may have only benefited from minor tweaks over the DB11 – the turbos gain a little extra boost, there’s a louder exhaust, and a remap to match the upgrades – but the changes increase output from 600bhp and 700Nm to a staggering 715bhp and 900Nm. That torque figure is not a tiny peak, either, but a vast plateau spreading from 1,800rpm to 5,000rpm.

That’s easily enough torque to overcome the huge Pirelli P Zero tyres. Unless you’re on a perfectly smooth bit of road without any camber, anything approaching full throttle will cause the Superleggera to squirm as the traction control fights to keep order. The gearing is shorter on the DB11 to improve acceleration, but with so much torque it seems unnecessary in the DBS.

At higher speeds, there is little like it in a straight line. The huge mid-range shove means that at any speed the DBS leaps forward with violent acceleration. It’s a different sensation to what you’ll find in the Ferrari; it’s no slower against the clock, but you’ll need to use its full rev range to make the most of it. And while the DBS doesn’t quite have the glorious tone of the GTC’s V12, it’s still not a noise you’ll soon tire of.

The Aston manages to counter with a driving experience that feels more relaxing. Both cars are comfortable, but the DBS’s steering doesn’t require quite as much focus in order to make smooth progress.

The suspension may be firmer than on the DB11, but there’s enough pliancy to remain comfortable. Switch into the most relaxing of the three driving modes and it smothers the road below in true GT fashion.

Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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