Aston's DB11 makes our top-ten quickest list
And as the drive progressed things just got better. By the time I had revved this British bombshell into a howling dozen-cylinder symphony, I was quite hooked.
This is Aston Martin’s first turbocharged engine and it’s a good one. Forced induction is the way of the world now in the big-boy sportscar league - with a handful of exceptions - and the British firm has produced a power unit that’s as acoustically compelling as it is powerful.
As the latest in a long line of DB-badged cars dating back to the 1950s, and the direct successor to the DB9, the 11 is the most muscular series production Aston Martin yet, and the numbers behind that roar are quite impressive at 447kW and 700Nm. It feeds the back wheels via a rear-mounted eight-speed automatic transmission.
To find out how this translates into straightline pace we took the grand tourer to the Gerotek testing grounds near Pretoria and hooked up our Vbox. The result was 0-100km/* in four seconds flat, just a whisper slower than the factory-claimed 3.9.
Given there’s no launch control system to hike the revs before you dump the throttle, the four-second sprint is very decent horizon-chasing performance, and its 11.99 second quarter-mile time also makes it into the top-ten list of quickest cars we’ve ever tested over that distance.
There are driver-selectable modes that affect throttle response and exhaust note, and the suspension can be set from merely firm to rock-hard too. In the angriest of these the DB11 adopts a belligerent persona that’s dirtier and raunchier than past Aston Martins I’ve driven - the debonair James bond swagger turns into more of a Hulk who got up on the wrong side of bed. The quickened throttle unleashes those horses in rampant style, and the howl from the double-barrel exhaust becomes more intense. Left to run its course, the car will reach a claimed 320km/* .
Despite its fat tyres and stability control, the DB11 can become a handful if you don’t respect all that power. Turn onto an offramp a little too eager with the right foot and the tail will flick like a towel in a school gym. Thankfully, Nanny McElectronic quickly brings the unruly children back into line.
The V12 behind the DB11’s distinctive Aston Martin shaped grille is still a real-deal Aston Martin. It’s only the upcoming V8 models that will get Mercedes-AMG engines as part of the 2013 deal in which Daimler bought 5% of the British firm.
However, it is Mercedes technology in the DB11’s entertainment, navigation and other electronic systems. The outdated infotainment in the preceding DB9 model was in dire need of an upgrade and the Germans have done a great job of modernising it.
The look and feel of the leather-coated cabin is still pure Aston Martin, revamped with new materials and some delightful bits of automotive jewellery that are available in a vast array or colours and detailing options. The cramped rear seat of this 2+2 coupé isn’t adult-friendly at all but the boot is big enough for the customary two golf bags.
Encasing this front-engined grand tourer is drop-dead beautiful body in lightweight aluminium, featuring some clever ‘hidden’ aerodynamics that manage the airflow without resorting to any boy-racer wings to ruin those sleek lines. Gill-like vents in the front wheel arches enhance front downforce by channelling air through apertures behind the side strakes.
For downforce at the back, intakes behind the rear side windows draw airflow before venting it from slots in the rear bootlid. When more stability is needed a small active spoiler automatically deploys from the bootlid - an added bit of theatre in a GT sportscar bursting with charm and sensation.
Yours for R3.9-million, including a five-year/80 000km warranty and service plan. So far seven DB11s have been sold in South Africa.
* Test car courtesy of Daytona Sandton.Star Motoring
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