2018 Aston Martin DB11 Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Editor
June 1, 2018

Aston Martin has developed the DB11 as a true grand tourer, balancing comfort and handling in a beautiful package that would make a comfortable car for an escape to the cabin many hours away.

The 2018 Aston Martin DB11 is the British carmaker's latest blockbuster. A replacement for the aged DB9, the DB11 emerged last year with some pieces on loan from Mercedes-Benz, but with the soul of Aston Martin intact.

By soul, we mean its grand-tourer spirit. The 2018 DB11 soars, thanks to its adherence to two principles: primal grunt and gorgeous styling.

We rate the 2018 Aston Martin DB11 a 7.4 out of 10, giving it points for its smooth and agile dynamics, its powerful and angry engines, and its beautiful looks inside and out. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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More: Read Motor Authority's first drive of the 2018 Aston Martin DB11

The DB11 debuted for 2017 as a V-12-powered coupe. For 2018 it adds a V-8 engine from Mercedes-AMG, as well as a convertible that Aston Martin calls Volante. All models come with the same basic equipment.

The DB11 is a striking, sexy car. It’s bought as a statement of class and style. Curvaceous, and slender, the DB11 sits low to the ground. It’s wider, longer, and lower than the DB9 it replaces, and many of its exterior details are functional. Strakes behind the front wheels deflect high pressure away from the tires. Deep inlets behind the rear windows direct air into the DB11's AeroBlade, which sends it through the through the decklid and out the back of the car to create a “virtual spoiler" that increases downforce and reduces drag.

Aston Martin’s other signature cue is a raucous, snarling engine note and both engines deliver it. Aston has replaced its naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V-12 with a twin-turbocharged 5.2-liter V-12 that makes 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The other choice is a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. It puts out 503 horses and 498 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with standard steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Performance figures are close: with the V-12, the DB11 hits 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and tops out at 200 mph, while the V-8 vaults the car to 60 in 4.0 seconds and pushes it to a top speed of 187 mph.

 

While the V-12 has a bit of a power advantage, the V-8 weighs less, taking that weight off the nose and creating a car that handles better. In fact, the DB11 is much better dynamically than the DB9, offering a comfortable ride; quick, precise steering; stability at speed; and strong brakes. As a grand tourer, though, it lacks some track gear, like carbon ceramic brakes, a mechanical torque vectoring differential, or rear-axle steering.

Inside, the DB11 is covered in leather and Aston Martin lets buyers choose from a variety of colors. High-quality trim is on the docket, and Aston Martin has even made sure the sound the leather makes when rubbed is unique; the dials and knobs have their own signature sound, too.

The front seats are supremely comfortable, but the rear seats are best left for packages and lowering insurance rates.

While the DB11 comes well-equipped with features such as navigation, satellite radio, and a wi-fi hotspot, it does not offer any active safety features and it will never be crash tested. That’s OK because it would be a shame to ruin something so pretty.

10

2018 Aston Martin DB11

Styling

A statement of style, the curvaceous but slender DB11 is sleek and clean, with functional details that only enhance its sexy shape.

As an exotic car, the 2018 Aston Martin DB11 is a statement of taste and style. It’s curvaceous, but slender, though longer, lower, and wider than the DB9 it replaces. It’s absolutely beautiful inside and out, and there is no better way to arrive in style. We rate it a perfect 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At the front, the low hood line and chin hug the ground, and a large grille opening takes on the traditional Aston Martin shape, which is among the sexiest in the business. The large clamshell hood is just one piece of rolled aluminum, creating a cleaner look for the entire front end.

The body’s slender center section is largely unadorned, though it has a character line along the bottom that kicks up quickly, then rises at a shallower angle to take some visual weight off the side of the car. The body widens at the rear haunches, then tucks in quickly and wraps around the rear end.

The greenhouse defines the car as much as anything else. It has fast lines front and rear, and the rear pillars are blacked out, creating a floating look. Buyers can choose a black or body color roof, and the roof pillars are available in silver, body color, or black.

The body has a few functional details, too. The strakes behind the front wheels both look cool and help deflect high pressure from the tires. The deep inlets around the rear windows direct air into the car’s AeroBlade, which sends it up through the trunklid to create a "virtual spoiler" that improves the aerodynamic elements of drag and downforce.

Inside, you can think of the DB11 as a tailored suit. Buyers can choose monotone or two-tone leather and the colors for each. They can opt for contrast stitching, add or subtract broguing to the leather, match the leather of the headliner to either of the two-tone colors (or choose Alcantara), opt for carbon fiber or any of multiple wood trim choices, pick bright or dark metal “jewelry,” and go with numerous colors of carpeting, among other things.

The dashboard layout is familiar to Aston Martin fans. The start button is on the center stack, where it is flanked by the PRND buttons for the transmission. A screen sits at the top of the stack, and a mouse-like controller sits at the base of the stack.

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2018 Aston Martin DB11

Performance

Smooth riding, agile, and powerful in V-8 or V-12 form, the DB11 is a classic grand tourer, but not quite an all-out sports car.

The 2018 Aston Martin DB11 offers willing V-8 or V-12 power (both with a distinctive voice), spirited grand touring handling, a comfortable ride, and strong brakes. We rate the DB11 a 9 for performance based on these strengths. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

V-8 or V-12 power

Both engines are new for this generation of the DB. The V-12 is now a twin-turbocharged 5.2-liter unit that makes 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The V-8 is also twin-turbocharged. It’s a 4.0-liter engine from Mercedes-AMG, and it puts out 503 hp and 498 lb-ft of torque.

Both engines sit farther back in the chassis than the DB9’s engines, creating better weight distribution, and both are mated to a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted via steering wheel paddles.

In terms of engine performance, the V-8 and V-12 are practically a toss-up. The V-8 propels the DB11 from 0-62 mph in 4.0 seconds, while the V-12 does the deed in 3.9 seconds. The V-12 tops out at 200 mph, while the V-8 can hit 187 mph. The main advantages for the V-12 are in the badge and the sound.

Still, both engines provide a menacing note worthy of the beautiful sheet metal that surrounds them. Aston Martin tuned the Mercedes V-8 to sound more like an Aston engine, replacing the intake and exhaust to limit the typical AMG bass tones and bring out the mid-range and high tones. Both also drop an octave or two when put in the Sport or Sport+ modes to announce their intentions more vehemently, letting out pops and crackles when the driver lets off the gas and between gears.

Power with the V-12 is more immediate, as the V-8’s turbos take a bit of time to spool up. Thereafter, both engines pin occupants back in those sculpted leather seats and launch this beautiful British missile toward the horizon.

The transmission shifts better than a human can, cracking off quick shifts in the Sport modes, dropping up to four gears on downshifts, and holding gears longer. In Comfort the shifts are smooth and the revs are kept low.

A relaxed but capable grand tourer

The DB9 was an old car by the time it was retired and it suffered for it. The ride was stiff, and the handling wasn’t up to current sports car standards. The DB11 is more relaxed, but very capable. Its new platform is 85 pounds lighter and 15 percent stiffer, while the body is longer, lower and wider.

The DB11 is far easier to drive on a regular basis than the DB9, thanks to a smoother ride, especially with the dampers in GT model. Aston Martin makes the V-8 model a bit stiffer, with firmer dampers and rear bushings, but they mostly serve to improve handling rather than harm the ride.

The Sport and Sport+ settings make the ride jiggly, but not overly harsh.

The DB11’s steering, handling, and braking, however, are quite accomplished. The quick 13:1 steering ratio combines with the stiff platform to make turn-in immediate. The 20-inch 245/40 front and 285/35 rear Bridgestone Potenza 007 tires grip tenaciously, the car rotates predictably through corners, the brakes are strong and confident, and the DB11 is settled at speed.

Balance is better with the V-8, which weighs 243 pounds less than the V-12. All of that weight comes off the nose, creating a near-perfect 51/49 front/rear weight bias. It’s the one to buy for those who want the sportier DB11.

While the DB11 has a brake-actuated torque-vectoring system and a mechanical limited-slip differential, Aston Martin does not offer some systems that would improve track performance, such as active rear steering, a clutch-based torque vectoring system, or carbon ceramic brakes.

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2018 Aston Martin DB11

Comfort & Quality

The DB11's cabin is awash in leather and electronics, with materials appropriate for the $200,000 price tag, though rear seat space is tight.

The DB11’s cabin is an absolutely beautiful environment, slathered in leather and accented with electronics. It has great front seats, but the rear seats are short on space, even though they are roomier than those of the DB9. We rate the DB11 a 6 for comfort and quality, adding points for materials and seats, but subtracting a point for rear seat space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The leather is top notch and naturally grained. Aston Martin lets buyers configure it in a multitude of colors and choose even higher levels of quality. Even the headliner is available in leather, though Alcantara is standard.

Aston Martin has created a “sonic identity” for the DB11 in more than just the engine note. The tone, sound, and feel of the leather, the buttons and knobs, and the paddle shifters is all tuned for a discerning ear and hand. In our experience it all works, and it all imparts a feeling of quality and meticulousness.

The front seats are well-sculpted and comfortable, with power adjustments to tailor the right seating position for most backsides. The rear seats will likely be used more for packages than people and that’s a good thing because they are still quite small.

Rather than develop its own infotainment system, Aston Martin turned to partner Mercedes-Benz and incorporated the COMAND system into its center console. The result is a better system than you’d get from a small brand with limited resources, but it’s not as well thought out as you get in a Mercedes.

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2018 Aston Martin DB11

Safety

The 2018 DB11 is too pretty for either U.S. agency to crash-test, and it's light on safety features.

The 2018 Aston Martin DB11 lacks today’s active safety features and has no crash test ratings. Without a crash scores, we can’t give it a safety rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The DB11 is too expensive and doesn't sell well enough to crash test, so neither U.S. agency will do it. It'd be a shame to ruin something so pretty, too.

Standard safety gear includes eight airbags, a surround-view camera system, and front and rear parking sensors.

No safety options are offered, and none of the modern active safety systems such as blind-spot monitors or forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking are available.

Nonetheless, the DB11 stops well thanks to six-piston calipers clamping down on 15.7-inch rotors up front, and four-piston calipers hunkering down on 14.1-inch rotors out back.

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2018 Aston Martin DB11

Features

The 2018 Aston Martin DB11 is generously equipped and lets buyers personalize the interiors with leather in numerous single or two-tone choices.

With pricing around $200,000 or more, the DB11 should be well-equipped and it is. The interior is smothered leather and the latest technology, though the infotainment system comes courtesy of Mercedes-Benz. We rate it a 7 for features, giving it points for the nice level of standard features and the personalization options that center mostly around colors and trims. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Coupe or convertible, which Aston Martin calls Volante, and V-8 or V-12, the DB11 is offered in one loaded-up spec.

Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, an Alcantara headliner, power heated front seats, memory for the fronts seats and exterior mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access and starting, a heated rear window, and 20-inch alloy wheels. Infotainment features include an 8.0-inch center screen, a navigation system, an AM/FM audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a wi-fi hotspot.

Aston recognizes that buyers may want to personalize their cars and offers a variety of interior color schemes. Other options include cooled seats, and two premium audio systems including a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound system.

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2018 Aston Martin DB11

Fuel Economy

If you are concerned about fuel economy, why are you buying an Aston Martin?

No fuel economy numbers are in yet for the 2018 Aston Martin DB11, but we do have 2017 numbers for the V-12 and we can infer ratings for the V-8. Based on those ratings, which should be in the upper teens combined, we give the DB11 a 5 out of 10 for fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With the V-12, the 2017 DB11 was rated at 15 mpg city, 21 highway, 17 combined by the EPA.

The V-8 has not yet been rated, but the Mercedes-AMG GT, which is similarly sized and has the same engine, is rated at 16/22/18 mpg.

Neither car is saddled with a gas guzzler tax, which is a win for buyers. However, both engines require premium fuel.

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$198,995
MSRP based on V8 Coupe
 
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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 10
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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