WHEN you’re rising to the challenge of retaining your unique position in the industry, every twist in the road offers potential or potholes.
Aston Martin has made the sporty journey thus far with some degree of enthusiasm. It’s endured ownership changes from various cultures, but has regardless kept on delivering cars of character for characters such as real owners and the likes of James Bond.
It’s a relationship that has endeared, but will it be relevant as Aston Martin enters a new age? After successive years of losses, will the DB11 allow it to turn a corner?
In 2013, Aston Martin sold 5% of its stake to Mercedes-Benz in exchange for engines and electronic parts. The deal helps the British luxury brand stay on the road as it fights to get its cars in line with current global engine requirements.
The first of the new generation of cars to roll out is the DB11. Quite stunning, it has sent hearts racing and cheque books have been whipped out to land some of this V12 action.
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Roomier than the DB9 it replaces, the DB11 is stronger, safer, more dynamic and still desirably good looking. The 2+2 takes some 250 hours to assemble (a Prius takes 21 hours). The winged logo on the bonnet takes 14 days to forge by hand, and is placed on top of eight layers of paint. That just accentuates the smooth and uninterrupted lines of the car. The clamshell design ensures fewer shut lines and breaks that would affect the graceful, sporty coupe profile.
The attention to detail follows into the interior, where fine leather, wood and modern touches give it a distinctive identity. Like most modern cars, there is no shortage of features to keep drivers and passengers safe.
With the Mercedes-Benz bits quite evident in the control unit on the centre console, the rest of the layout is designed to impress, which it does quite well. The seats are comfortable, controls are within reach, and if you’re in the back seats, well, just pray there isn’t a traffic jam to contend with.
Would you prefer a sports car or a luxury roller like the Phantom?
Fire up the V12 and it leaps into readiness. The throbbing of the engine still sends the adrenaline racing through car and driver. Pop it into gear and rocket off. No fuss, no bother. Just sheer, unadulterated power that takes it from 0-100kmh in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 322kmh, 48 valves working with the ZF 8-speed.
A Balancing Act
But what is becoming more evident ins super cars is the ability to do the daily run without too much bother. No longer do they impatiently lurch along, today’s cars, like the DB11 manage their output so that city driving is a comfortable affair.
There are many features that help as well. The Curlicue and Aeroblade are examples of technology enhancing the experience.
The Curlicue is a vent incorporated into the front wheel arch lining which cuts front-end aerodynamic lift. The Aeroblade controls how the air flows along the rear of the car, at the base of the C pillars, before exiting in the rear boot lid like a spoiler.
The DB11 navigates the fine road between grace and race like an ace. It’s a desirable set of wheels, which explains the demand for it, and marks the start of a new chapter for the brand that will hopefully make it profitable and relevant.
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Engine: V12 Twin-turbo, 48 valves, quad overhead cam
Max Power: 447kW@ 6,500rpm
Max Torque: 700Nm@1,500–5,000rpm
Transmission: ZF 8-speed Touchtronic 3
0-100kmh: 3.9 seconds
Top Speed: 322kmh
Retail price: *$899,000
Please reconfirm price with dealer.