- Pure GT experience and capability
- Visually stunning
- Beautiful V-12 growl
- Bang & Olufsen rivals Bowers & Wilkins, for our money
- Exclusivity and sophistication
- No dual-clutch or other advanced transmission option
- Not the quickest of its peer group
- Frustrating navigation system
The 2014 Aston Martin DB9 offers a refined balance of power and prestige, James Bond-cool whatever the situation.
The 2014 Aston Martin DB9 carries into the new model year almost unchanged, but we're not arguing with its sleek exterior, elegant interior, or powerful engine. In fact, we're rather taken by the whole package.
Closing in on nine full years on the market, the Aston Martin DB9 still manages to capture the essence of the British marque. The DB9 even survived an attempt to replace it with the Virage, which itself lasted only two years on the market. The Virage was no slouch, either, but the DB9's strengths are many.
Its gorgeous exterior form aside, the interior's tightly fitted leather and clean wood or carbon fiber trim feel current, too. An LCD touchscreen sits front and center, and the crystal-tipped key/fob is a unique feature that rises above the gimmick. The details are simple and restrained, the total effect one of sophistication.
For both the coupe and DB9 Volante convertible, under the hood there's a 6.0-liter V-12 engine loosing 510 horses and 457 pound-feet of torque. Last year's 40-horsepower jump woke the DB9 back up, and it continues to exude the purest of grand tourer experiences: fast, comfortable, and quiet--thought it will bark with provocation. A six-speed paddle-shifted ZF automatic transmission clicks quick shifts, but lacks the crisp, throttle-blipping precision of a modern dual clutch. You wouldn't expect the DB9 to be fuel efficient, and it's not: the EPA estimates 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway for 15 mpg combined.
Despite its grand tourer nature, the DB9 is quick, launching to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and capable of a top speed of 186 mph.
The careful balance required for grand touring ride and handling like the DB9's requires a solid platform to build from, and the all-aluminum, bonded and riveted chassis and body provide it. Despite the aluminum focus, the DB9 isn't especially light: a typical example weighs about 3,800 pounds. In the context of some competitors, however, it's not nearly as heavy as it could be.
It makes sense, then, that while the DB9 lacks the immediacy of some smaller, nimbler cars (the Porsche 911 comes to mind) it's still athletic. The adaptive suspension provides much of the magic in this regard, whether absorbing poor roads in Normal, chasing up a canyon in Sport, or truly pushing the limits in Track, each mode lets the underlying chassis span a wide range of conditions and experiences.
For those that might consider driving their DB9 on the track, carbon ceramic brakes are standard, providing not just good stopping power but better heat tolerance for extended hard use.
Despite the pair of vestigial seats on standard models, the front row is comfortable and properly roomy for a car that should see its share of road trips. An available composite sport seat package includes a rear-seat deletion, and the loss is less than the gain. You'll be using the space for luggage either way, as the trunk is very small even amongst its sportier alternatives.
While no new features join the spec sheet for 2014, last year's additions of a pop-up navigation screen, rearview camera, and automatic headlights help keep it up-to-date. The navigation system continues to be a weak spot in the Aston Martin ownership experience, proving slow and frustrating. On the entertainment front, the DB9 succeeds, however, with an available Bang & Olufsen 1000-watt audio system that's on par with the Naim, Burmester, and Bowers & Wilkins alternatives in competitors' cars. An optional carbon fiber package adds interior and exterior trim in the material, and while it definitely is (and looks like) the real thing, the available leather headliner is a better direction for the DB9's nature--unless you have the convertible's standard power top and glass rear window.
For 2014, Aston Martin has priced the DB9 from $185,400 and the DB9 Volante from $200,400, a $400 increase over last year. Delivery and destination fees (not included) are $2,825.