Driven: Aston Martin DB11

An exclusive drive of the new twin-turbo DB11, at Bridgestone’s test facility in Italy.

Damien Reid June 13, 2016

It was one of those sweaty palm moments when the door swung open and I was invited to take the driver’s seat of Aston Martin’s new baby, the DB11. 

But not just any DB11, this was the ride and handling development mule of the all-new, 600bhp, twin-turbo V12 we’ll see on our roads later this year.

After an extensive briefing, document signing and a reminder that this was the only DB11 they had, I was ushered down to meet my psychedelic-frizzled, black and white camouflaged mule waiting in the forecourt of Bridgestone’s test facility in Italy. 

The body camo wrap did a great job of hiding its lines but a close inspection confirms that Aston Martin’s signature style of a full width, upturned grille, swooped headlamps and fat rear guards are ageing well. Of course, official images have since been released. 

At the rear is a retractable gurney flap-style wing, which cuts lift at the tail without needing a garish fixed wing to ruin its natural good looks. Air rushes from the base of the C-pillar on each side through internal ducts to the rear deck where it keeps the tail planted at up to 140kmh before the flap deploys. 

Lurking under its out-stretched bonnet is a V12 but not the 6-litre unit that’s powered every Aston since the DB9 of 2003. This is a new, heavily revised, 5.2-litre in-house design, which introduces the first phase of Aston’s ‘Second Century Plan’ that will include a close collaboration with AMG Mercedes.

A welcome change when sitting behind the wheel is its all-new interior. Despite the hideous pale blue leather in the mule, it now feels closer to the minimalist AMG GT and less like the staid, over 50s gentlemen’s club of a Jaguar XK. 

I’m not sure what impressed me more, the smooth power curve with zero hint of turbo lag or the 400mm brakes up front that arrested its 1770kg from 165kmh back to 30kmh in just a few seconds. Not once, but every lap for 20 minutes.

Rear end grip was impressive given the lack of wings or body kit. The traction system initially dialed in plenty of understeer, especially on the wet handling section, but with 700Nm coming on from just 1500rpm, it was virtually impossible to tame with the right foot. 

Fitted with bespoke Bridgestone 255x40s on the front and 295x35 on the rear, code marked 007 of course, they worked overtime to pump out water on the wet track, provide stupendous grip in the dry and still offer comfort and ride levels superior to the last of the DB9s. 

Whereas the DB9 was hunting the Bentley Continental GT and Maserati Gran Turismo, Aston Martin has sharpened the DB11’s intent making it more of a rival for the Porsche 911, AMG GT or even perhaps, the Ferrari 488.

Specs

  • Engine: 5.2-litre, twin-turbo V12
  • Power: 600bhp @ 6500rpm
  • Torque: 700Nm @ 1500rpm – 5000rpm
  • 0-100kmh: 3.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 322kmh
  • Price: AED 830,000 (est)