2017 Aston Martin DB11 Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 9, 2017

The 2017 Aston Martin DB11 is a statement of style, sound, and speed—in that order.

The 2017 Aston Martin DB11 has the look and the feel of a big-budget attempt from a low-volume luxury car maker. The grand tourer features technology that would be expected from a much larger automaker with deeper pockets, not a specialty, low-volume producer from Gaydon, England.

Among the DB11's technical achievements: active aerodynamics that create a "virtual" spoiler, a twin-turbocharged V-12 with cylinder deactivation, a "sound identity" that dictates everything from the in-cabin noise to groans from the leather and door chimes, and one of the largest rolled aluminum parts every made for its clamshell hood. According to the automaker, sourcing the aluminum hood took several months, constructing the massive nose took even longer. The three-stage seatbelt chime may have taken several years, we suspect.

More: Read Motor Authority's first drive of the 2017 Aston Martin DB11

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The DB11 competes against ultra-luxury tourers such as the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso, Bentley Continental GT, and Maserati GranTurismo.

Styling and Performance

Like any supercar, the Aston Martin DB11 is a statement of style first. The curvaceous, but slender, DB11 is noticeably busier than the DB9 it replaces. Aston Martin chief designer Marek Reichman said the car company used design principles to create a "more efficient" product, and those cues speak in the body lines.

Up front, the lower hood line and chin keep the car lower to the ground, but a larger grille than on the DB9 directs cooling for the massive 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 underneath, planted behind the front wheels.

Thanks to that single piece of rolled aluminum, the hood is free of shunt lines and visual imperfections. Its details aren't immediately apparent, but once the massive clamshell opens, trust us: You'll never look at the DB11 in the same way.

Strakes from the front wheel help deflect high pressure from the tires—they're not just cool-looking design elements—and those deep inlets around the rear windows? Those are functional too. They help direct air into the DB11's AeroBlade, which ports that air up through the decklid to create a "virtual spoiler" (it's actually closer to a Kammback) to reduce drag and help increase downforce.

The net effect is a cleaner exterior and a perfect silhouette for the grand-tourer's shape.

Under the hood is an all-new 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 that produces 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. It's roughly 10 pounds lighter than the outgoing 6.0-liter V-12 from the DB9 that it replaces, not to mention about 100 hp and 60 lb-ft more powerful. Its compact design helped engineers set the engine back 3.3 inches behind the front wheels for better weight distribution.

The new engine channels power to the rear wheels via a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are standard, but the transmission's shift logic is better than a human's: kicking down four gears is seamless, and in comfort mode, it's eager to keep the DB11 under 2,000 rpm to melt the highway miles away.

Active torque vectoring (via brake-actuated systems) and electric-assist power steering combine for a direct, precise control of the DB11's 3,902 pounds. The DB11's aluminum body and redesigned chassis are 85 pounds lighter, but 15 percent stiffer than the DB9. The DB11 is longer, wider, and lower than that car, although strict lap-time performance isn't its purview.

At extra-legal speeds, the DB11 is settled and confident. Push the car into triple digits and its back end becomes a little lighter—all 600 hp is available here, even if it isn't necessary.

Interior, Features, and Safety

Inside, the DB11 is awash in leather and electronics, high-quality materials and finishes befitting its $212,000 pricetag. That's knocking on the door of many other higher-priced exotics and the Aston doesn't disappoint.

Although the grand tourer has two rear seats, we suspect they won't be used often. We're guessing many DB11's will be third or fourth (maybe fifth or sixth?) options in garages around the world, so back seat comfort, well, takes a back seat.

Driver and passenger are swathed head to heel in leather. The headliner is leather and the deep, comfortable buckets are all hide, too. Aston Martin stipples the leather in a range of selected colors—or customized swatches if you like. The leather is naturally grained and richly conditioned without nicks or scars.

Aston Martin says it has created "sonic identities" for its new cars, with a distinctive tone, sound, and feel to every surface and indicator—all the way down to the sound the leather makes when its rubbed.

That may be a "Bridge of Weir" too far, but it's clear that a meticulous level of detail went into the car's construction. Buttons feel mechanical and solid, the paddle shifters are precise and click confidently through gears, and even the pushbutton ignition is gorgeous. We'll drink the Kool-Aid on this one.

Our quibble: Aston Martin has cribbed Mercedes-Benz's infotainment system (Daimler owns 5 percent of Aston Martin) and it's not all that useful here, either.

Like all supercars, no safety data is available. We don't think it ever will be either. These things are too pretty to crash.

Six-piston calipers on 15.7-inch rotors up front, and four-piston calipers on 14.1-inch rotors out back help arrest the car from its prolific speeds. A standard complement of traction systems helps keep the car on the road, eight standard airbags deploy when it doesn't.

If you're looking for advanced safety systems or autonomous features on the DB11, may we interest you in the point of this car? It's to be driven, not to be driven in.

Aside from personalized colors and paint schemes, not much else is optional on the DB11. Customized luggage or kickplates are available. Back up the truck full of money and you might get one with some flames painted on the sides.

Our favorite color combination is the Cinnabar Orange with black hides and silver accent stitching, though Frosted Glass Blue is a daring pick. Quantum Silver is classy, but colors show the DB11's slinky body better.

We imagine the twin-turbo V-12 will be enough to trip the EPA's gas-guzzler tax, but federal officials haven't yet weighed in.

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