Aston Martin DB11 – slick, powerful and built for the long haul

Close up of Aston Martin DB11

The Aston Martin DB11 is the celebrated sportscar’s first new model in a generation. Our reviewer Tiff Needell says it’s slick, powerful and built for the long haul – and this time you don’t have to be James Bond to own one

It seems as if we’ve been waiting forever. After 13 successful years, the Aston Martin DB9 has at long last been superseded. Having skipped the DB10 model – that was exclusively reserved for some bloke called Bond – we’re going straight to the DB11, and it looks like it was worth the wait.

Although the first Aston Martin was built back in 1914 it wasn’t until 1948 that the DB models debuted, after David Brown took control of the failing company. His first sportscar was retrospectively named the DB1, following the 1950 launch of the DB2; the DB3 was a limited run of racing models, after which the moniker became an exclusive label for their flagship road cars.

The DB4, 5 and 6 were the stars of the late 1950s and the game-changing 1960s but once again the brand was running out of steam and getting into financial difficulties. They survived the ensuing decades with an ever-more dated-looking range of V8 models before Ford took control of the company and introduced the DB7 in 1993. Early DB7s were powered by supercharged six-cylinder engines, but an exciting new dimension was introduced with the 1999 Volante model, which had a howling V12 engine under the bonnet. Such was the enthusiasm for this new powerplant, when the company came to introduce a new model it skipped the ‘8’ as it feared the public would assume the V8 had returned, and, in 2003, launched the DB9 instead.

A V12 remains at the heart of the new DB11. The latest version’s capacity is reduced to a slightly more modest 5.2 litres, but is now turbocharged to produce 600bhp, making it the most powerful DB model ever to have been made.

While retaining the overall Aston look, this all-new car is very different in the detail with a striking new grill and one-piece pressed aluminium clamshell bonnet. Side strakes now flash back from the front wheel arches to vent the engine bay and improve the airflow to the rear pillars, which feature vents feeding the air over the tail to reduce lift without resorting to the traditional boot-lid spoiler.

My only disappointment is that Aston’s famous ‘emotional control unit’ (or key, to you and me) has gone. This is the first sign of Mercedes’ involvement with Aston Martin, following its purchase of a five per cent stake back in 2013, as it has provided the DB11 with much improved satnav, multimedia system and dashboard controls.

With completely reworked suspension the new DB11 is not only more comfortable to sit in but also provides a much more composed ride whatever the road surface throws at it. It’s become more of a grand tourer, in every sense. Of course there’s the usual choice of driving modes if you want to sharpen things up a bit when Spectre looms in your rear-view mirror. But this is an Aston that wants to settle in for the long cruise – and at £154,900, it’s nearly a hundred grand cheaper than the equivalent Ferrari.

Aston Martin DB11 slideshow (click to enlarge)

Aston Martin DB11 specs

Top speed 200mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds

Engine 5.2 litre turbocharged V12 generating 600bhp
Gearbox eight-speed automatic

Economy 24.0mpg
Price £154,900

Performance 9/10
Handling 9/10

Economy 6/10
Comfort 8/10

Quality 9/10
Desirability 9/10

Watch the Aston Martin DB11  in action

About author

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell is a former Grand Prix driver who spent most of his professional career racing in the World Sportscar Championship including 14 Le Mans 24 Hour races where he had a best result of third in 1990. He is however perhaps better known as a former presenter of Top Gear throughout the nineties and then helped to create ‘Fifth Gear’ which enters its 14th year in 2015. Tiff recently wrote his autobiography Tiff Gear, is Director magazine’s columnist, races whenever the opportunity arises and has now rejoined Clarkson, co-presenting at Top Gear Live.

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