To the manor born: the new Aston Martin DB11 goes V8
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While all eyes were on the Aston Martin Vantage as it has its global launch in Portugal this weekend, there’s another product from the British carmaker that deserves just as much attention.
While Aston Martin launched its DB11 V12 two years ago, it has now added a V8 variant to its line-up — the first time the DB name plate has had two engines available.
The DB11 replaced the 13-year-old DB9 (James Bond snaffled the DB10 badge for Spectre) and was the first product to be launched under the British company’s “Second Century” plan.
The DB11 looks distinctively different to the DB9, with the clamshell bonnet, a larger Aston Martin grille, and strong lines through the side panels to the generous rear giving it a more masculine appearance.
Under CEO Andy Palmer, the brand is set to increase production from its current 7000 models a year, thanks to a new factory in Wales. The DBX luxury crossover that will be built there.
The currently named DBX will be launched next year, and will see Aston Martin double its output with the crossover making up half the figures.
But for now, the company is focusing on the DB11 and Vantage.
The DB11 V12 is priced from $365,000 but the 4-litre, V8 is now on sale in New Zealand, knocking $70,000 off that price tag.
The 5.2-litre, V12 produces 447kW of power and 700Nm of torque compared with the V8’s 4-litre, 375Kw/675Nm powertrain.
You may wonder why a V8, when there’s the DB11 with the 5.2-litre V12 engine? The reason is the burgeoning China market where there is a taxation on engine capacity.
So UK-based Aston Martin headquarters at Gaydon, Warwickshire, again had a word with Mercedes-AMG for supply of its V8 engine used in the AMG GT S models.
Aston Martin then developed the V8 engine management system with Bosch with the induction and exhaust systems all Aston.
The V8 gets the eight-speed ZF auto transmission seen in the DB11 V12.
The Aston Martin DB11 V8 also has the Aeroblade, created by the company’s lead aerodynamic expert, Darren Coe.
The Aston Martin Aeroblade eliminates the need for a rear spoiler by using airflow to enhance stability. Air is pushed along the bonnet and side panels and into intakes under the C-pillar before venting into slots in the rear boot lid with wire mesh container to catch any debris.
The Aston Martin Aeroblade prevents the need for a pop-up rear spoiler and keeps the lines of the grand tourer clean.
Visually, it’s hard to tell the V8 and V12 apart. The V8’s grille is subtly different and gone from the bonnet are the V12’s centre air strakes that cool the turbo. Instead, in the V8, these are internalised.
But turn on the engine and you’ll immediately notice the difference. Gone is the thumping V12 note and instead you get a genteel rumble from the V8.
That was particularly telling during our photo shoot with dogs Brio and puppy Ari plus pony Raisin just two metres (sometimes less) near the DB11 and none as spooked when I started the V8 engine.
The Aston Martin DB11 felt at home at my friends’ home (pictured), especially by the stables — horsepower met horse power.
It’s a stylish rival to Ferrari and Lamborghini and, thanks to the two rear seats, is suitable as an everyday as you can have extra storage. Just plonk your bag or even the shopping in the second row and away you go.
Unfortunately that second row is suitable only for your gear or primary school-aged kids. Head space is tight for adults — and they wouldn’t thank you for a ride in your Aston Martin if you were going further than down to the shops.
The V8 is also 115kg lighter than the V12 and, with the smaller engine block sitting behind the front axle, the weight distribution means the DB11 V8 is sprighter, with acceleration of 0-100km/h in 4.0 seconds.
Inside the 2+2 seater grand tourer, the AMG partnership sees the infotainment screen, rotary control and optional touchpad plus satnav and plus 360-degree camera you’ll find in Mercedes cars, with the Aston Martin touch of new instrument cluster.
The engine had the drive choices of GT, Sport and Sport Plus modes. The GT mode was an everyday option that gave you such a smooth ride you could forget you were in a exotic car. On the motorway I dialled in Sport mode; for the back country roads after our photo shoot, I had it in Sport plus.
It noticeably altered the firmness, steering, revs and exhaust notes of the DB11. The V8 felt agile as I wound around the hills and tight corners of my drive route, and handling was firm — just what was needed when I faced some shady and damp corners.
■Thank you to Ashleigh and Andrew for the use of their home, plus ‘models’ Brio, Ari and Raisin.
ASTON MARTIN DB11 V8
Pros: Understated luxury
Cons: Miss the V12 growl