The closeness of the relationship between Aston Martin and James Bond is evident from the tyres adorning the DB11: Bridgestone Potenza S007. Coincidence? I think not.
Despite dalliances with Lotus and BMW, Aston has been inextricably linked with everyone’s favourite spy. The connection has done wonders for the British brand’s image, but hasn’t actually helped it make any money. The DB11 has.
Top 10: Bond Cars
On the back of strong initial sales, Aston is now sustainably profitable for the first time in its century-long existence and is charging ahead with the new Vantage and bold projects like the Valkyrie hypercar.
We’ve finally managed to get our hands on the first fruits of Aston’s Second Century Plan on local roads to ascertain whether the DB11 is more Goldfinger or A View To A Kill.
Initial reservations regarding the styling disappear in the metal, though it’s possibly a colour sensitive design. It’s well-proportioned with some lovely details, an impression that carries over inside.
The interior contains enough leather to make a dairy farm nervous and while the electronic architecture is now sourced from Mercedes, evidence of the partnership is limited to the infotainment system controller and indicator/wiper stalk.
Aston has some novel approaches to interior fittings, but they’re quite clever; the dash is actually a very clever place for the transmission selection buttons and while the semi-quartic steering wheel looks a bit odd, it fits very nicely in your hands.
Located just near your thumbs on that steering wheel are two buttons which alter the attitude of the DB11; the left one controls damper stiffness while the right one adjusts the powertrain, both with three modes to choose from.
Unlike most performance cars, which attempt to run the full gamut from everyday cruiser to hardcore track warrior – with varying degrees of success – Aston offers only different levels of comfort.
As you’d hope for a GT car the ride is excellent and fails to deteriorate markedly even with the dampers set to Sport Plus. In fact, given the softness of the base setup, Sport Plus could offer more body control as the tyres regularly kiss the guard liners through mid-corner compressions even with the dampers set to their stiffest. It never loses its composure, but the body does get a bit floaty when driven hard and the big Aston (1770kg) feels happiest up to around eight-and-a-half tenths.
The upside to this compliance is plenty of feedback from the chassis, though with 295mm rear rubber the transition to oversteer can be quite sudden – thankfully it’s easily held with the ESP’s Track mode flattering any mistakes.
The steering is very nicely judged and the brakes are a little soft, but offer good feel and progression once past the initial deadzone. However, open that dramatic clamshell bonnet and you’ll find the true highlight of the DB11.
Unlike its AMG-sourced V8s, the DB11’s 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 is all Aston and it’s fabulous. The linearity of its power delivery means it doesn’t necessarily feel as potent as its 447kW/700Nm and 3.9sec 0-100km/h numbers suggest, but acceleration is ample and the noise wonderful.
Listen up: DB11 exhaust noise
There’s none of the high-rev histrionics of an Italian V12 – power begins to taper off towards the 7000rpm redline – but the delicious exhaust note is most redolent of a carb-fed straight-six like you’d find under the bonnet of a Jaguar E-Type or Aston DB5 – surely no accident.
This beautiful engine is attached to a ZF eight-speed transaxle automatic which is the perfect partner; it may not have the slick shifts of a dual-clutch but its smoothness in all circumstances is ample compensation. The only chink in the powertrain is a strange mechanical wheeze on deceleration.
If you’re after a hairy-chested, balls-out sports car, the DB11 is not for you. There’s every chance it would feel all at sea on a track, however, it happens to be one of the finest road cars I’ve ever driven.
Powerful, comfortable, evocative, if I had to choose something to drive to Sydney the long way in tomorrow, this Aston would be very high on the list.
2018 ASTON MARTIN DB11 SPECS:
Engine: 5204cc V12, DOHC, 48v, twin-turbo
Power: 447kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 1500-5000rpm
0-100km/h: 3.9sec (claimed)
Like: Beautiful V12; great noise; lush ride; handling balance; luxe interior
Dislike: Couple of Mercedes interior bits; too soft for ultimate driving thrills
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars