2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8 — Road Test

Posted on Sep 30, 2017 by
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Review Summary:

Aston Martin's -engined new DB11 is an entry-level model striking a great balance between a cruiser and a proper driver's car, at the expense of the latest tech-gizmos on-board

Pros

Fun to drive, providing road feel and communicative steering; the new Mercedes-sourced 4.0-litre V8 engine doesn't let on that it's a whole 100 horsepower down on the V12...

Cons

It's got a dated infotainment system from Mercedes on board and not much tech compared to its gizmo-laden latest rivals

Aston Martin’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz has resulted in the new DB11 entry-level model with an AMG-sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine — Auto Middle East tests it at the car’s launch in Spain

2018 aston martin Db11 V8

Hang on a bit, this looks familiar — are you a little late with this one?

It’s the brand new DB11 and we’ve only just come back from the global launch in Spain, what are you on about?

The DB11 was launched last year already, and Aston Martin is going through a record year of sales at the moment precisely because of it, the Gaydon company’s first all-new car in yonks…

My, you’re quite informed. That is correct, when it comes to the DB11 V12, with Aston Martin’s new twin-turbocharged in-house 12-cylinder engine. This, however, is the new DB11 V8, and is the first Aston Martin to bear the fruits of Gaydon’s technical partnership with Mercedes-Benz. Namely, besides an infotainment system sourced from Stuttgart, it’s also got AMG’s ubiquitous 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 up front.

So it’s a traditional Aston Martin range-topping V12-powered Grand Tourer, but with a V8?

Precisely.

Why?

Because it will further help the sales charts before the DBX crossover comes along to make up for the bus of production — that one will be manufactured in the company’s new plant in Wales. The V8-engined DB11 is also in response to rival makes that offer a wider range of competitors.

2018 aston martin Db11 V8

But if I’m rich and I want an Aston, I’m going to want the best Aston, the V12, right?

Ah, assuming the best is the V12. This V8 has a lot to say about that — unless you drive them back to back immediately one after the other, you cannot perceive a performance deficit in the V8-engined car and one foot-to-the-floor acceleration run from a standstill to 200km/h before you reach the end of the driveway will leave you wondering how much more power does someone really need?

So how does it compare then?

First of all this isn’t about merely an engine swap. Because the V8 is naturally shorter than the V12, and lighter and smaller, the new car benefits from a more even weight distribution front to rear and retuned suspension to suit. In general things have been softened up ever so slightly because the V8 doesn’t need such a sturdy platform for support as the V12. Secondly the 4.0-litre V8 needs less cooling than the 5.2-litre V12 so instead of four bonnet vents the V8 model gets two, and instead of front-fender V12 badges the V8 model gets no badges, so your insecurities have been thought of there as well.

The more compact V8 must make things better in the corners then?

The V12 car was no slouch either, but this new entry-level DB11 is also 115kg lighter which is a substantial saving for a quoted kerb weight figure of 1,705kg. If you consider something like Bentley’s new Continental GT, that thing’s over 2.2 tonnes. So yes, with a slightly quicker steering rack and quite aggressive software mapping when you’re using the shift paddles yourself it’s actually a fun Grand Tourer to tour grandly in. And the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France aren’t a bad setting either.

2018 aston martin Db11 V8

What exactly are we talking about, numbers wise?

The engine is rated here at 503 horsepower even though AMG gets over 600 out of the same lump. That would encroach on the V12 and its 600bhp, but we aren’t about to start complaining about five hundred horsepower… The V8 also makes 675Nm of torque, which lends it the proper GT crushing credentials, and you’ll only ever run out of steam near the top end at illegal speeds anyway. Zero to 100km/h in the DB11 V8 takes four seconds and top speed is a neat 300km/h so the V12’s case gets weaker as we go. There’s no shortage of noise either.

2018 aston martin Db11 V8

And that interior is, er, loud enough too…

The DB11 is a great place to spend time in, and demonstrates how much Aston Martin has stepped its game up in terms of build quality. It’s undeniably behind its rivals in terms of levels of equipment though, and lacks all the driver assistance systems premiering now in the latest Continental GT, to use it as an example again. You get an infotainment system sourced from Mercedes, but it’s a previous-generation unit that’s not even close to the user experience you get in the latest S63 AMG. The Aston, then, is somewhat of a traditional Grand Tourer, in that sense, and it does that job better than most striking a great balance between fun-to-drive sports car and cruiser.

With that sort of stiff competition how do you compete without the headline-making toys on-board?

Today something like the aforementioned S63 can just about drive itself and massage you on the move and scent your air conditioned air and warm your neck and scan the road ahead with cameras and use satellites to guide it and air suspension to smoothen the drive, and that’s just the sort of stuff that is expected in the ultra-luxury segment. But the Aston focuses on the driving experience, and on that alone, because there isn’t much else to go along with the DB11 other than that and the spectacle of arriving in this thing. It scores a win there, as the DB11 is one of few such cars that provide something in the way of feel and urge the driver to enjoy the experience. It’s not just a leather-lined waiting room.

2018 aston martin Db11 V8

So, this or the DB11 V12?

There is little point to the V12 other than the fender badge, so Aston Martin has certainly put its new partnership with Mercedes to good effect. Any sort of cannibalising of sales isn’t going to happen because those who want the V12 want nothing less, but those who want a great GT for around AED730,000, would do well to look at the new V8.

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