Aston Martin DB11: A Grande Complication
by Martin Green
There is something magical about a V12 engine: its distinct sound and the knowledge that there is a mythical beast under the hood, the stuff of automotive legends, ready to propel you effortlessly across interstates, autobahn, or autostrada.
V12s don’t possess the highest number of cylinders – the Bugatti Veyron’s W16 actually takes that honor – and V12s are often outperformed by V8s. In fact, Mercedes offers the best example of this with its two different AMG versions of the S coupe: the S63 AMG is fitted with a V8 that blasts you from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds for $164,750, while the V12 of the S65 priced at $236,250 takes 4.0 seconds to reach that same speed.
The point I’m trying to make is that V12s have their own realm, and are loved by people who want an exquisite piece of machinery that goes beyond typical logic.
They are for sure getting that with the new Aston Martin DB11 – with a little bit of help from Mercedes. That help is only obvious in some of the buttons and switches inside the DB11, but the German company does have a five percent stake in Aston Martin and will be providing the V8 to power the new Vantage due next year.
Under the hood of the DB11 is a magical V12. The old saying that there is no replacement for displacement has been abandoned by most car manufacturers due to more strict emission regulations and more efficient and no-lag turbo technology. Aston Martin’s new V12 in the DB11 is down from 5.9 liters to 5.2 and fitted with two turbos. The result is a very healthy 600 HP, 516 feet of torque at only 1.500 rpm and 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.
Impressive numbers: the DB11 is a GT from before the time when these two letters were abused by nearly all the car manufacturers to sell pretty much anything with two doors. The DB11 is a true old-school Gran Turismo, a car to travel with from London or Paris to the Cote d’Azur in comfort, luxury, and most certainly style.
It is quite interesting to see Aston Martin develop in terms of design. The DB11 is unmistakably an Aston Martin, but its lines have a dash more “Jetsons” than the DB9 before it.
What about the DB10? That one − and, yes, there was only one − was strangely only made to feature in the James Bond movie Spectre and then it was discontinued.
Aston Martin developed the DB11 to be a pure GT and nothing else.
The new aluminum platform is attached using rivets and adhesive bonding, creating more space in the cabin. You can change the setting of the suspension independently of the gearbox, so you can tighten the springs without automatically also getting into a more aggressive gear mode.
And the DB11 has another trick up its sleeve, an air blade. Nearly all high-performance cars now use not only some sort of rear wing or spoiler to increase downforce, but also both passive and active aerodynamic features to improve airflow around the car.
The new DB11 also has this, but it’s virtual rather than physical. In fact it is made of air. Air scoops near the rear windows channel it underneath the trunk lid and direct it to the back, where it flies up in a “virtual spoiler.”
Aggressive, by the way, is something the new DB11 never really becomes in terms of a hard-core sports car. When challenged, it holds its ground, but otherwise it prefers roaming wine country rather than trying to set a new record on the Nürburgring.
Aston Martin not only has a partnership with Mercedes but also with watchmaker Richard Mille following more than a decade with Jaeger-LeCoultre.
The successful relationship with the Le Sentier-based watch brand really took off with Amvox 2, an amazing watch that was able to unlock the doors of the Aston Martin DBS, Rapide, and DB9 models using an invention called the trigger chronograph (see Aston Martins, Transponders, a Hidden Safe and a Butler: In London like James Bond).
It remains to be seen what the two companies will come up with in terms of a partnership product this time.
The DB11 is equipped with a James Bond-like automated trunk pull-down and center armrest. But perhaps the coolest gadget in the car is the one that comes to the fore when you show off that magnificent V12 to admirers. When you drop the hood, it automatically and gently pulls itself shut and locks.
That is in many ways as unnecessary as that V12, but as I said before, the Aston Martin DB11 is a car that defies common logic.
For more information, please visit www.db11.astonmartin.com.
Engine: 5,204 cc twin-turbo V12
Power: 600 Hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual mode
0-60 mp/h: 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 200 mp/h