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First Drive Impressions: 2017 Aston Martin DB11

The first entry into Aston Martin's "Second Century," the DB11 honors its sublime ancestors.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

During a recent automotive media event outside San Diego, we had the chance to get our hands on Aston Martin’s latest offering long before it finds its way to the eager hands of whomever plays 007 next. Aston Martin’a new DB11 is currently taking orders with a base price around $225,000. It will offer a fresh, sleek design language with a bonded (…no pun intended…) aluminum frame maintaining structural rigidity while removing weight.

This is an important car for Aston Martin because it’s the first machine of the automaker’s “Second Century” plan — kicking off a theme of looking to the future of the brand. So, the styling of DB11 brings on some changes. First, there’s a front-hinging “clamshell” hood and new LED headlights. Fortunately, the immediately identifiable grille is still on station. The long, sloping lines are familiar from stem to stern, while strong haunches with newly sculpted taillights finish the aerodynamic line of the car.

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Under the bonnet, the vehicle packs every bit of the power Bond would demand with a fresh, Aston Martin designed 5.2 liter, twin-turbocharged V12 engine married to an eight speed automatic ZF transmission with paddle shifters. Current numbers say that the power plant delivers 600 horsepower at a top speed north of 200 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 3.9 seconds. The production car is limited to make certain new owners behave themselves. To make the power as efficient as possible, the DB11’s chassis, suspension, steering and electronics are all new and tuned to the special V12.

The onboard AI provides three driver-selectable modes: GT, Sport and Sport Plus. Aston Martin doesn’t mess around with terms like “Normal” or “Eco,” so GT plays up the luxury elements of the DB11 for maximum comfort and sophistication, while the Sport and Sport Plus modes ramp up the performance, tuning the engine’s efficiency and sharpening the handling by adjusting the torque vectoring and firming up the adaptive damping. Aston Martin’s intelligent bank activation keeps the car balanced in motion, while stop-start technology saves fuel in what is otherwise a thirsty engine. You don’t build V-12s for weeds wringing their hands over climate change or Suzy Temp on a budget worried about buying premium gas.

Also: AUTOLUST | 2017 Aston Martin DB11

 

The engine still has that unmistakable Aston Martin exhaust note. After a brief whirr from the starter, the car lets loose with a loud, sharp growl worthy of an F1 car from days of yore. However, while we use terms like “exhaust” and “engine note” here as common terms, Aston Martin would never indulge in some vulgar terminology. In their circles, the noise the DB11 makes is its “theatricality.”

Inside the cockpit, there’s a sweeping technological collection to enhance driving comfort and convenience. Aston Martin fits the DB11 with a 12-inch TFT LCD display to monitor car function options. A separate eight inch TFT screen handles the infotainment. A new satellite navigation and audio system uses via a rotary control with an optional touchpad providing multi-touch and gesture control support.

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The front seats are hand-stitched leather and power adjustable with additional legroom. Only actual in-car testing will indicate how effective or necessary the back seats are. In the gorgeous DB9, you could maybe squeeze a vent doll into those rear seats. I always believed Aston Martin had to make that natural two-seater into a four because of insurance reasons. But, I can’t prove that. Regardless, that promise of more leg room should make life more comfortable for all concerned passengers.

The drive experience is sublime — like driving music. The overall sensation of acceleration, grip, balance and smooth handling transforms the car into the rarest of machines — a super car that can serve as grand touring machine.

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Since few buyers grab any Aston Martin off a showroom floor, each DB11 can be personalized with the company’s extensive bespoke color and detailing options. In short, Aston Martin can quite literally create or match any color a prospective buyer designers and is willing to pay for upon order. No one who serves up a quarter million for an elite supercar wants anyone else to own anything similar — making this latest DB model more of a personally statement than mere transportation.