A British beauty gets a German heart
Is the big, front-engine GT an anachronism? The evidence has long been mounting. Lamborghini abandoned the form decades ago, Ferrari’s GTs have microscopic sales, and even the Corvette’s engine is moving aft. But Aston Martin remains faithful to an ideal that reached its zenith in the 1960s, investing vast sums to replace the aging DB9 with the new four-seat DB11.
Tiny Aston, in desperate need of new engines, also faced a choice: It could spend resources on developing a new twin-turbo V-12 or a new twin-turbo V-8, but not both. It picked the V-12 and let its new technology partner, Mercedes-Benz, supply the V-8. The DB11 V-12 debuted last year, a gorgeously low and wide autobahn inhaler with 600 horsepower and, currently, a $219,320 base price. Now comes the $201,820 DB11 V-8 with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter unit from the Mercedes-AMG GT-S. Chief among the changes are a switch to wet-sump lubrication and a reworking of the exhaust to produce a less thumpy and more sonorous soundtrack befitting an Aston. Rated at 503 horsepower, the V-8 produces only 18 fewer pound-feet of torque than the V-12, and it feels it. The engine is capable of hurtling the DB11’s sculpted form on a thick squirt of thrust from low in the rev range. The V-8 will deliver the large DB11 to 60 mph in four seconds, claims Aston, just a few tenths behind the V-12. The eight-potter is lighter, too, shedding 254 pounds from this mostly aluminum car and shifting the weight balance rearward to a more favorable 49/51 split.
Aston has also taken a second look at the DB11’s somewhat spongy chassis. Stiffer springs and dampers as well as revised bushings and anti-roll bars inject some starch and a bit more steering urgency into the equation. Where the V-12 squats under acceleration and leans a bit in corners, the V-8 stays flatter and feels sharper. Italy’s Stelvio Pass won’t seem like such a workout if you’re planning to tackle it at Grand Prix speeds.
Opting for the V-8 shorts the DB11 buyer none of the interior opulence, and options such as a $5700 luggage set and an $8300 Bang & Olufsen stereo allow you to gratuitously run up the bill. But forget the back seats; they’re useless no matter the engine.