Review: Aston Martin DB11 (2016)
Brilliant fun to drive, thunderous soundtrack, beautifully styled.
Expensive running costs, disappointing cabin, harsh ride quality on less than perfect roads.
Aston Martin DB11 (2016): At A Glance
- New prices start from £149,715
- Insurance Group 50
The Aston Martin DB11 is comfortable, fun to drive and beautifully styled, making it one of the very finest grand tourers. It isn't without its faults, owing to its frightening thirst for fuel and slightly disappointing interior, but in our view this is one of the most rounded GT cars money can buy.
Aston Martin has always had a knack for producing great looking cars, but the DB11 is among its modern best with muscular lines, vast bonnet and low-slung grille providing an approving nod to the DB10 Bond car that took centre stage in the movie Spectre.
The DB11 is dazzling to drive too, with its agile chassis and responsive steering fuelling genuine Bond-like thrills. Engine choices are split between Aston Martin's in-house developed 5.2-litre V12 and the Mercedes-AMG sourced 4.0-litre V8 - both use twin-turbocharging to develop a respective 608PS and 510PS.
The Mercedes-AMG sourced V8 is thunderous fun, with 675Nm of torque flowing from just 2000rpm. The high revving V8 peaks at 6000rpm, while power is fed to the rear-wheels via an eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.
The DB11 uses double wishbones at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear to blend the V8's potency with long-legged comfort of a grand tourer. The rear wheels will kick out with an occasional sideways nudge of protest under heavy power on wet roads, but the DB11's smooth power delivery and progressive steering make it a surprisingly easy car to tame. Fun does come at a price, however, with the V8 returning an official 28.5mpg and 230g/km of CO2.
Rough roads do inevitably transfer some heavy bumps into the cabin, but the DB11 gets most things right when it comes to comfort and refinement. Although passengers might take a different view, with the tiny rear seats providing little comfort for those over four feet in height.
The interior is one of the few areas where the DB11 underwhelms, with its mixture of cheap plastics and hand stitched leathers disappointing and pleasing in equal measure. The cabin is, for the most part, a comfortable and pleasant place to spend time, it's just a pity that some of the trim feels a little short on quality for a £150,000 GT car.
What does a Aston Martin DB11 (2016) cost?
Aston Martin DB11 (2016): What's It Like Inside?
The best way to describe the layout of the DB11 is a 2+2, with the small rear seats only being suitable for small children. Two teenagers might squeeze in for a short journey, but there's no hiding the fact that the DB11 has been designed with just two adults in mind.
The interior of the DB11 is an upgrade on the old DB9, with the switches and infotainment system carried over from Mercedes-Benz (as part of its technical partnership with Aston Martin). However, while the navigation, audio and multimedia are easy to use, the general cabin quality is some way short of what's expected from a GT car that costs close to £150,000.
There's no shortage of leather or soft touch materials, but some areas - like the air vents - appear to have been made from hard and cheap plastics that wouldn't look out of place in a much cheaper car. The large, round steering wheel also feels somewhat dated, with Aston Martin’s rivals using smaller flat bottomed wheels that make it easier to get in and out of the car.
Most of the electric switchgear and infotainment has been carried over from Mercedes-Benz; this means you get a large rotary dial in the centre console, which operates the navigation, map, radio and media via a bright colour screen that sits at the top of the dashboard. The driver also gets a digital instrument binnacle, which can be customised.
However, while the majority of the switches and infotainment systems are easy to use, there are some areas that are difficult to master. There are a series of touch sensitive buttons on the dashboard, for example, that are overly sensitive. This means you can inadvertently activate the heated seats on a while trying to lower the ventilation temperature. The electric controls for the seats are also located next to the footwell, which makes them difficult to see and use.
Bootspace is limited at 270 litres, which means the DB11 is nowhere near as practical as the Panamera (495) or S-Class Coupe (400). It's also worth noting that both the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz get two rear seats that will comfortably accommodate adults, too.
Child seats that fit a Aston Martin DB11 (2016)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Aston Martin DB11 (2016) like to drive?
- Engines range from 4.0 V8 Touchtronic to 5.2 Touchtronic
The DB11 is a huge improvement over the old DB9, with its sophisticated suspension, aluminium chassis and electric steering delivering a much sharper GT experience.
It's still a grand tourer at heart, with the DB11's soft set-up providing lots of long distance comfort, but it feels more eager and agile when turning into tight bends and more sure footed when pushed hard out of the exit.
The upgrades in handling are aided in no small part by the use of double wishbone suspension (front), multi-link (rear) and electric assisted steering. The DB11 also uses active damping and torque vectoring (by braking) to sharpen control and grip, which means you do not need to be some sort of track day king to enjoy the DB11's blistering performance.
There are two engine options, with the most potent being the 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12. Designed in-house by Aston Martin, this engine develops 608PS and 700Nm of torque from just 1500rpm. Naturally, it’s the quickest off the line, with 0-62mph taking 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 200mph.
If you don't have a race track at your disposal to fulfil the V12's charms then you can tone things down a little by opting for the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 instead. The V8 is sourced from Mercedes-AMG and develops 675Nm of torque from 2000rpm and is good for 187mph.
Both the V12 and V8 are matched to an eight-speed ZF torque converter automatic gearbox, with paddles for manual up and down changes. There are also three driving modes - GT, Sport and Sport Plus - which progressively sharpen the response of the engine, gearbox, steering and damping. The exhaust note also grows progressively louder, as you crank up the settings.
However, while the DB11 is brilliant at doing the fast, shouty things, it is less composed on rough roads. The handling remains firm and controlled on bumpy A roads, but the ride quality becomes notably unsettled. The DB11 also generates a fair amount of wind noise on the motorway, which again means it's not as refined as its German GT rivals.
|4.0 V8 Touchtronic||25 mpg||4.0 s||230–265 g/km|
|5.2 Touchtronic||25 mpg||3.9 s||270 g/km|
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