Aston Martin DB11 Review | 007 Approved
If you want a fast exotic, you turn to Italy. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani… they’re all excellent choices. If you’re after something that’s a little bit more sensible, more understated if you will, you go to Germany and Porsche, Audi, BMW and Mercedes. But what happens if you want something that combines all those things and adds a dose of elegance and ‘posh’? Well, naturally, you turn to the island in Europe known as Great Britain. Over the years, Great Britain, and England in particular, has been the birthplace of some of the greatest automobiles the world has ever seen. Although Jaguar and Land Rover are great examples of British engineering, no name is perhaps more closely associated with any country as much as Aston Martin is with Britain.
A quick glance at Aston Martin’s history reveals the astonishing heritage the company has. Model for model, they’re arguably the greatest manufacturer in the world. The total number of excellent cars they’ve made over the years is almost equal to the total number of cars they’ve made overall. The DB2, the DB4, the DB6, the Vantage, the DB9… the list goes on and on. Although early Astons did have some issues with reliability and build quality in particular, none of that mattered because there was nothing like an Aston Martin on the market. They were special and unique, and they still are to this very day. There’s a reason the DB range was chosen to be the leading vehicle in James Bond, the greatest action movie franchise there ever was. After not unveiling anything new for a couple of years, last year Aston decided it was time for a new DB car, and shocked the world with this: the DB11.
On the outside…
Few thought Aston could come up with anything sexier than the DB9, but with the DB11, they have. Speculations of a DB9 replacement have been circulating the internet for years prior to the car’s launch, but no one knew exactly what one would look like. The DB successor was wrapped in mystery, from its drivetrain to its design. We got our first hint at what that DB replacement might look like when Aston Martin showcased the world the DB10 movie car. As it turns out, predictions weren’t that far off, because the DB11 isn’t wildly dissimilar to the DB10.
The overall shape is almost identical to the DB10, although its lines and the edges have been noticeably smoothed out for the production DB11. Changes are most obvious up front where the new car sports more familiar elements to make it road legal. The grill is larger than that on the DB10 to allow for better engine cooling. The hood is a bit pointier, and the headlights are noticeably larger. They had to meet certain laws and regulations, which is understandable. Here’s a fun fact: the DB11’s headlights are smaller than those on the DB9, the car it replaces.
Where the new car differs greatly from its predecessor is in its side profile. The elongated, low, sloping hood that’s traditional of a large GT car is still there, but everything else is new. The rear haunches for instance are sportier and more aggressive, the quarter windows are smaller and pointier, and the roofline has an entirely new contour. The roofline is almost reminiscent of the legendary One-77 with a perfect arch from the A pillar at the front to the C pillar at the rear.
The back is effectively a DB10 without the large spoiler and thinner C-shaped taillights. They extend towards the Aston Martin badge and tuck in nicely in the trunk lid. The DB11 also showcases Aston’s excellent AeroBlade, which is a trademark of theirs. Essentially, the AeroBlade is a virtual spoiler hidden inside the top of the trunk lid. It’s fed by air intakes at the base of the C-pillars and its job is to simply create downforce at high speeds. As the air rushes through the vents it exits out the venting aperture in the decklid, effectively acting like a large rear wing without actually taking up space or adding weight. A large wing is also not exactly suitable for such an elegant GT car, something the AeroBlade most definitely is.
Although this is entirely subjective, we think the DB11 is the most gorgeous Aston to come out in the last ten years or so. It’s not just better than the DB9, but it’s up there with the One-77 and the iconic DB5. For sheer aggression and drama, you can’t beat the Italians. However, if you want something dignified and elegant, something that’s so entirely beautiful it wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in the world, it’s Aston Martin all the way. No brand has managed to capture so effortlessly luxury, style and speed in such a natural manner, and that’s why the DB11 gets our nod every single time.
On the inside…
Inside, it’s pretty much the same story. Don’t expect the cabin to blow you away the same way a Pagani Huayra’s cabin might, but the sheer quality and understated elegance of is still remarkable. It’s an interior that starts to grow on you from the moment you get inside. If there was ever a car which had matching exterior and interior design, the DB11 is it. Although Aston Martin will tell you the cabin has been completely redesigned, we can still notice some similarities between this and the old DB9. The wide center stack along with the rectangular A/C vents is similar, as is the infotainment system along with all the accompanying controls, and the similarities end there.
As is the case with any modern Aston, the quality of the materials and the fit and finish is second to none. Everything you touch, everything you see, and even everything you smell, radiates top end quality. You won’t find cheap hard plastic in this ride. It’s brushed aluminum, Alcantara leather, layered Nexus quilting or Celestial perforation all throughout the cabin. Everything a luxury GT should be.
Speaking of grand touring, the driving position is brilliantly positioned for a grand tourer as well. You don’t sit as low or as deep in the car as you do in, say, a Vantage, but you don’t get the sense that you’re missing out on anything. Sporty and supportive as the seats may be, their main emphasis is luxury and comfort. It’s the same with the steering wheel. The flat-bottom makes it great to throw around, although you’re not enticed to do that as you would be in the aforementioned Vantage. This is a car in which you relax and just eat up the miles.
Under the hood…
If you want the full on DB11 experience, you have to go for the flagship 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12. The behemoth of an engine makes 600 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, more than adequate to propel the car to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and go on to 200 mph. While the power is sent to the rear wheels via a familiar eight-speed ZF, Aston engineers have tuned the software to make it smoother and quicker than before. Aston will tell you it has stop-start and intelligent bank activation, but you’ll forget all about it when you hear the thing whale and scream. V12s are incredibly refined and smooth, and this powerplant may be the perfect example of one such V12. It’s got a ton of torque down low so you never have to press the accelerator more than a quarter of the way down, but if you do, you’ll be quickly reminded of the massive horsepower reserves under the hood. Turn the traction control off if you dare and it will roast the rear tires in any gear, at any speed.
Less does not always mean worse though, and that’s what you should keep in mind when discussing the V8-powered DB11. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 has been ‘borrowed’ from Mercedes-AMG, making 503 horsepower and 513 lb-ft of torque in the DB11-spec. Yes, it is down on power compared to the V12, but because it’s smaller it’s also lighter. A lot lighter. 253 lbs. lighter to be exact.
Acceleration times are similar to the V12, yet the top speed is lower at ‘just’ 187 mph. Where the V8 really shines is in the corners though. The V12 is a GT car in every sense of the word. It will do silly things if you ask it to, but it’s not comfortable doing them. The V8 on the other hand, loves corners. It’s neutral but will not hesitate to oversteer if you ask it to. The multiple driver-selectable modes (GT, Sport and Sport Plus) mean you can transform the DB11 from a big GT cruiser into a fairly nimble and agile sports car with just the push of a button.
Worthy of 007?
If you’re buying with your head you’re probably going to end up with something German, in the same way that if you’re buying something to impress you’ll end up with something Italian. As an overall proposition though and something which will never ever go out of fashion, something you can look at and smile every time, something which will gulf the miles, you can’t top the DB11. The upcoming convertible (Volante) model will fill in the gap left by the DB9 Volante nicely as well. Most importantly though, if the DB10 is good enough for 007, then the DB11 definitely will be and it should be for you too.