Subtlety, stunning looks and superb performance make the Aston Martin DB11 a car very close to perfection.
Motoring: Aston Martin speaks softly
True quality never has to shout to make its presence felt. And if ever there was a car that subtly and unobtrusively makes a statement, it’s Aston Martin.
Even the badge is low key; a pair of white wings with the name “Aston Martin” in capital letters within a discreet green rectangle.
None of which is to suggest that the Aston Martin DB11 goes unnoticed. From any angle, it is a stunningly elegant car that just as often turns the heads of those who have no idea what it is as it does those who recognise its heritage and background.
The DB11 is more grand tourer than out-and-out sports car and, for most buyers, all the better for it. Tucked away under that swooping clamshell bonnet is a V8 (or you can opt for the externally almost identical V12) that comes from Mercedes-AMG. Inexplicably, the V8 engine used in the Aston Martin, a four-litre powerplant, delivers 25Nm of torque less than it does in the Mercedes-AMG C63 S. It shouldn’t make the slightest difference to your purchase decision.
The Aston Martin promises so much and, once you slide into the beautifully trimmed leather seat, it doesn’t disappoint. Like most cars in this rarefied price range (don’t expect much change from half a million dollars), it offers almost endless opportunities for personalisation, from different coloured leather inserts to your choice of coloured stitching to carbon fibre enhancements under the bonnet. For instance, Aston Martin offers a choice of 56 different exterior colours, more than 50 cabin colour choices and even five seat belt colour options. As you can imagine, tailoring the car to your specific requirements can take some time, and apparently, after going through the process and being warned that delivery, in these difficult times, will take between four and six months, some buyers are happy to settle for a ready-made car as close as possible to their specifications. You can’t blame them. The thought of waiting to enjoy the DB11 would be akin to being a child seeing all those presents under the Christmas tree, but having to wait until Christmas morning to open them.
And speaking of children, the DB11 can replace the traditional “naughty corner”. Should one or more of your offspring misbehave, the threat of spending time in the back seats should bring them smartly into line. Making adults sit back there probably contravenes the Geneva Convention.
The DB11 is a large car and many of its extremities are invisible from the driver’s seat. The external mirrors are filled with bulging, smartly creased rear guards that stretch out over huge 20-inch wheels and tyres. The bonnet cascades away from sight, the side windows are shallow and the bulky A-pillar can very effectively hide other traffic.
Even before moving out onto the open road, the quality of the fittings, the masterful design and layout of the dashboard and even the smell of the leather all promise that every drive will be an experience. Of course, on the narrow and serpentine roads of the Adelaide Hills, care needs to be taken, especially when a lumbering oncoming SUV squeezes you closer to the unforgiving Armco fencing than you’d like.
Even at this price point, however, there are some minor irritations. The fresh air vents feel flimsy and floppy (you can have them in a number of different finishes, but in basic black, they could come from any hatchback) and some of the controls don’t impart the sense of solidity you could expect from a hand-built British tourer. As for boot space, prepare to pack light, which may be another argument for lashing out on the custom-made Aston Martin luggage set. The Aston Martin-branded umbrella of the test car is also an added-cost inclusion.
As befits a grand tourer, noise from the outside is muted. Aston Martin attention to detail even extends to double-glazed side windows. You can still hear that bass growl from the engine, but it never intrudes and as for wind noise, there simply isn’t any.
Perhaps surprisingly, the V8 goads you into driving it harder than the V12. It’s lighter, turns in more quickly and tempts you to use your right foot to control the rear end. Or you can drive it in an unfussed, relaxed manner, without feeling like you’re wasting its potential.
The DB11 V8 is a very special car. Aston Martin like to call it a gentleman’s express (don’t women also deserve a little luxury?). The concept is to deliver a car with no compromises, and, as we all know, that is an impossible dream. But whisper it quietly: the DB11 comes very, very close.
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This article first appeared in the September 2020 issue of SALIFE magazine.
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