The architecture is different. ... Mercedes-Benz now owns 5% of Aston and has a technological exchange partnership in place, so it makes perfect sense that the DB11's engine is an Aston Martin designed, Aston Martin developed, 5.2-litre, twin-turbocharged V12..
Oh ye of little faith. The DB11 isn’t just an all-new Aston Martin, it’s the start of a whole new chapter for the company that Andy Palmer was tasked with turning around when he joined as CEO in 2014. In the last two years he’s brokered an engine and electrics supply deal with Mercedes, whipped the covers off the AM-RB 001 hypercar (jointly developed with Red Bull Racing), revived the Lagonda sub-brand and squeezed every last drop of potential from an ageing range with specials like the Vantage GT8 and V12 S manual. This new DB11 though, is where his master plan really comes on stream.
It features a new, stiffer, bonded aluminium chassis, mildly inflated dimensions over the DB9, a new 600bhp twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 engine, clean-sheet styling and a new electronic architecture supplied by Mercedes. These are the headlines, but it’s what this car kicks off that’s important: seven cars in the next seven years – including a new Vantage, Vanquish, DBX crossover, multiple Lagonda saloons and that AM-RB 001 – plus, according to the sums, a return to profitability.
Aston has to build “the most beautiful cars in the world” (the words of its CEO, not mine) and it is, by and large, a beautiful thing – although massively spec dependant. New roof strakes – available in bare aluminium, body-colour or black - run from A to C-pillar and can transform the car from elegant to gaudy in one click of your mouse on the addictive online configurator. The proportions, however, are quintessential Aston. I prefer the rear, emblazoned with those boomerang LED lights, than the front where the grille has a slight overbite, but it’s classy in a way a Ferrari F12 just isn’t.
The DB11’s shaping even dips its toe in the muddy waters of aerodynamics. That Vulcan-esque cut-off side strake looks means but also releases pressure in the front wheel arch, while at the rear air is forced through intakes in the C-pillar, into the boot lid and out through a slit, creating a vertical jet of turbulent air that acts like a virtual spoiler. Whether it works or not is secondary to the genius of the idea.
Not entirely. Aston proudly claims that a 65mm longer wheelbase, 28mm more width and an overall length increase of 50mm next to the DB9 frees up 10mm more headroom in the front, plus 54mm more headroom and 87mm more legroom in the rear. All you need to know is those rear seats are still more for flinging bags onto than housing real people, even little ones. The shallow boot can swallow a couple of smallish suitcases, as well, so you’ll be fine for a two-up trip to your Cote D’Azur bolt hole.
It does, and that’s where the DB11’s USP lies - that on the right road it can turn in a virtuoso performance, but the rest of the time it can swallow countries whole at a steady 25mpg, or isolate you from traffic jams and cracked-up surfaces on the commute. It is, whichever way you measure it, a sizeable step on from the DB9 it replaces, but doesn’t try anything too outrageous. A solid start to a future portfolio that will be studded with flashier and faster members than this, but none that are quite so suited to being enjoyed every day, wherever you’re heading.
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