2013 Aston Martin DB9 | Road Test

Posted on Aug 4, 2013 by

Quick Review

GoodGood Looks fantastic, sonorous V12, steering feedback
BadBadRear seats, impractical interior
SpecsSpecs5.9L V12, 510hp and 457 lb-ft, 6 Speed Automatic, RWD
PricePriceAED 827,000 (Starting) AED 915,000 (As Tested)
RatingEditors Rating Four Star

The car that brought solace

To really appreciate this car, you’ve got to understand what the DB9 means to Aston Martin. The British carmaker has been around since the pre-war era and have been quite familiar with financial distress on multiple occasions with ownership changing quite a few hands. Towards the end of its time as a subsidiary of Ford, the DB9 was designed by Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker (of Fisker Karma fame). Launched in 2004, it was the first model to be built at the Gaydon facility and used a Vanquish derived V12 powerplant. It might not have been endorsed by Mr. Bond, but this one model was responsible for breathing back life into a dying brand.

2013 Aston Martin DB9 - f3q2

As always, full marks in the design department for the Aston.

For 2013, the Big Daddy V12 has been re-engineered to up the output to 510 hp (up from 450 hp) and 457 lb-ft of Torque taking it 4.6 seconds to hit the 100 km/h mark. Don’t be fooled by the brawny engine and a racing pedigree (the DBR9) into thinking this is a track weapon. The 2013 is a multitasker and in street guise this is more of a Grand Tourer.

That booty

That booty

Telling you about the DB9’s performance is redundant after you’ve read the horsepower and torque figures. That much power in a 2 door, handcrafted car weighing 1799 kgs is a no brainer. For 2013, the DB9 is no longer offered in a manual transmission. A 6 speed touchtronic automatic transmission comes as standard. Going by typical car sales in the region, we suspect the lack of a manual transmission is hardly going to make a difference here. The transmission is also not some fancy quadruple clutch. It isn’t very far from a simple automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Gear shifts aren’t lightning quick but they are hardly slow and on the upside, not violent enough to spill your drink while you furiously accelerate.

Get in the cabin and you will only touch Hand stitched leather or Suede. Maybe the red is a bit much?

Get in the cabin and you are surrounded by hand stitched leather or Suede. Maybe the red is a bit much?

There is a certain grace with which the DB9 picks up speed. Select ‘D’ and keep your revs below the 3k mark and you can barely hear the exhaust note. In fact, with the car stereo switched on, more often than not, the exhaust note is inaudible. This is a alright, but a posh one at that. You can pass by a busy street and not draw any attention at all, thanks to its split personality exhaust. Select sport mode however, and things can get a little bit different. The valves in the exhaust let the car breathe freely giving it a raucous scream that sounds sweeter than Beethoven’s ninth symphony. Kids will stare in awe while passer-bys pause to look at how something so beautifully crafted can sound so rowdy. On the performance side of things, the suspension stiffens, throttle response is sharper and the steering feels more direct. Although the car gets a little aggressive in sport mode, at no point do the gear shifts make the ride uncomfortable or rough. Aston Martin has made sure all that power is put to the rear wheels as smoothly as possible, god forbid, your comfort is compromised.

A funky collapsible pen comes as standard

A funky collapsible pen comes as standard

The suspension tuning is spot on making it a comfortable ride around town while not compromising the occasional spirited run. The steering is slightly on the heavier side which takes away a little from making it an utterly relaxing ride. However, this trade off pays when you bury the loud pedal and the steering comes alive. Cornering at high speeds, you feel connected and unlike most modern cars there are no electronics between the wheels and steering giving you an undiluted experience. Being rather heavy, you can be sure you can’t compare its agility to a ballerina or its grip to that of a car on rails. However, the weight distribution is near perfect and it remains poised, precise in its steering and quite predictable making it extremely enjoyable should you decide to open up the taps. This is a GT afterall, and by definition that means the ride and the handling has to be balanced. Don’t mess with the damper settings and you can be assured of a comfortable ride. Save the track mode for the track and you will truly begin to enjoy the car.

Yup. Those smart looking buttons are pretty hard to use

Yup. Those smart looking buttons are pretty hard to use

Supercars are never the most practical vehicles and Aston Martin has always followed the form over function formula. The 2013 Aston Martin DB9 is no different. Everything in the car is either covered in suede or leather, not exactly ideal for our climate. The dials in the instrument cluster look elegant but that is as far as it goes. It is hardly legible or easy to read and instead of being backlit, it actually has two little lights at the top of the cluster, that lights up the dials instead of using a typical backlit design. Thank god for the digital readout, you can at least keep an eye on your speed. There is very little in terms of settings to be adjusted as the car employs very few electronics. Whatever does need to be adjusted is via a tiny dot matrix screen that would have seemed archaic some 10 years ago. The buttons are finished in metal, are slim and extremely stylish to look at, which means they are also very inconvenient to use. There is a foldable screen only used for navigation. The navigation unit is borrowed from the obsolete parts bin of Garmin with graphics that look so ancient and ugly that the screen was always kept folded down during our review.

Rear seats - Glorified leather wrapped parcel shelf

Rear seats are a glorified leather wrapped parcel shelf

And we haven’t even spoken about the cupholders yet. Which are a complete joke. The cupholders are so shallow, you put anything in there and it is sure to tip over and fall even with the slightest tap on the brake pedal. The rear seats are a complete waste and can only accommodate a person with no lower limbs. Removing the rear seats completely would have allowed for a slightly larger boot and a proper parcel shelf to stow things away with easy access. Try grabbing something you’ve left in the rear seat and it will feel like the toughest yoga position you have ever attempted. As you might have figured out, the interior has absolutely no shortage of flaws.

2013 Aston Martin DB9 - Front 2

The sound system can be upgraded to a Bang & Olufsen system with motorized tweeters that pop up from the dash (first made popular in the Audi’s) which is probably the nicest thing on the feature list and maybe the painted forged alloys. Oh and being typically British, you get the option of speccing the car with a stupidly expensive Umbrella (completely useless in our region) mounted in the boot. The bluetooth is far from perfect with frequent disconnects, while it does not allow you to stream music of your smartphone. The sun visors are so tiny and useless, it makes you wonder why they even bothered installing it.

The integrated deck spoiler is classy and functional

The integrated deck spoiler is classy and functional

The DB9 starts at AED 827,000. Our test car, which came with all the options checked except the B&O sound system can be bought for 915,000 D’s. It almost sounds silly, and probably wouldn’t even matter to a prospective DB9 buyer, but in the entire Aston Martin lineup the 2013 Aston Martin DB9 probably offers the best bang for buck. While it may seem like the best value for money option within the Aston Martin range, it does not necessarily mean it is the best option as it faces fierce competition from the Maserati Gran Turismo S, the Bentley Continental GT, Jaguar XKR and the Mercedes – Benz CL65 AMG.

Fancy an outrageously priced umbrella?

Fancy an outrageously priced umbrella?

So it looks fabulous, rides comfortably and has a flawed interior. What is our verdict? The DB9 is like a posh businessman that maintains a very low profile. Wearing an understated grey suit, it isn’t loud or does not try to draw attention. However, the suit is of perfect fit and the material is flawless. The DB9 is a true GT that can gulp down miles of asphalt in complete luxury knowing full well you have 510 horses waiting to be unleashed at the tap of your right foot and of course the beautiful symphony of a V12. Don’t get me wrong, this is an extremely capable car and can easily handle a day out at the Dubai Autodrome or Yas Marina. However, the car is truly enjoyed cruising along in luxury with looks so good it can almost pass off as art. This car does not win you over with a good spec sheet or even an options list  for that matter. However, if you are one that appreciates a beautifully crafted machine with character, then nothing else will matter.

 

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