With an AMG engine under the Aston bonnet, this is a ripping combination
Here it is. Four years ago Aston Martin and Daimler AG signed some bits of paper, and this is the result. The very latest DB11 with a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 from Mercedes-AMG. A marriage made in heaven, or are we already talking to divorce lawyers?
But first, another question. Does it need a V8 or the alternative V12? The V12 is more powerful by about 100bhp, but torque figures are almost the same. And the V8 is lighter. In some markets, like China, it’s much more advantageous from a tax standpoint to go with the V8 but in the UK? Let’s see.
Lopping off four cylinders knocks the weight down by 115kg, improves the weight distribution and has allowed a revision to both steering and suspension. The idea is to make it a more involving drive and less of a GT car.
Aston Martin DB11 V8
Engine: V8, 3982cc, twin-turbocharged petrol
Torque: 513lb ft
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Top speed: 187mph
Fuel economy: 28.5mpg
CO2 rating: 230g/km
The V8 certainly sounds good, and indeed different to anything with a Mercedes badge. It’s quite subtle and a touch reserved in that English way compared to the noisier German counterparts, helped by Aston’s own induction and exhaust. These are good things.
Along with weightier steering, there is also more space between the driving modes. In GT it suits the name, holding on to high gears and woofling vigorously along. Change S and you have a great balance for the road, with crisp changes from the eight-speed auto, and good dynamic control. The S+ is a touch highly strung and manic to stay in for long, but it’s fun when you do.
No matter what mode you’re in, the V8 actually seems to respond better than the V12, and there’s so much torque that you can cover the ground in great grunting surges without even troubling the top of the powerband.
You could argue it’s a better mile-muncher than the V12, and the handling is definitely more precise and focused. There’s the suppleness and compliance you’d hope for in an Aston, but also a real confidence and feedback emanating from the front end. You can drive it harder, feeling more confident that it’ll stick or at least tell you exactly what it is going to do. Compared to the heavier-nosed V12 it’s definitely better.
As is the V8 overall. It feel even truer to the Aston Martin ethos of a really sporting grand tourer. Where the V12 has the emphasis on grand tourer, with the V8 that emphasis shifts to sporting, but you still get plenty of grand tourer generously thrown in as well.
Next year the factory is going to add the V8’s suspension and steering changes to the V12, proof if needed that this V8 is the real sweet spot. Tell the divorce lawyers to go away.