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You see, there are some cars that are good for flings. You have fun and you let go because they’re too crazy to live with. And then, there are cars that you want to get to know because you can wake up to them every day. Spend more time with them because they don’t feel like they’re perpetually on steroids and adrenaline. The one in question today is the latter. Something that you can have a lot of fun in and something that you can drive every day. The Aston Martin DB11.
The idea behind GT cars, especially ones like the Aston Martin DB11 (if there are any) is a curious one. See, the reason why everyone loves supercars is that they are, well, supercars. The reason why not a lot of people go for them (considering they have the moolah) is because they are well, supercars.
Not every day can be a track day and they can be a handful on the roads. That is the reason why GTs exist. But Aston Martin’s way of making GTs is slightly different. They make a car. Make it as sporty as possible. But keep just enough in the bag to make it nearly as easy to drive on regular roads as a regular car. So you get the best of both worlds with cars like the Aston Martin DB11 (again, IF THERE ARE ANY!).
Now, the reason why we loved the DB11 so much is because of what it brings with it. Not only visually, technically or mechanically but philosophically as well. The DB series is one of the longest-running series of cars. Perhaps that is why when one looks at the Aston Martin DB11, it harkens back to how it all started. And it all started with an Atom. Everything does but Atom was the car that set the stage for all Aston Martins that some lucky ones get to see and even fewer immensely fortunate ones get to drive.
Time for a little history lesson. The ownership of Aston Martin had already changed hands quite a few times before the Atom was made. Right around the time when Gordon Sutherland put Aston Martin up for sale, the Atom was produced. Then, a certain David Brown took a test drive and it impressed him so much that he bought Aston Martin.
After the acquisition of the brand by David Brown, the first car produced was called 2-Litre Sports and it was inevitably based on the Atom. But 2-Litre Sports sounds a bit bland, right? That is why it is known as DB1 nowadays. The very first of the DB series and DB, if you haven’t figured it out yet, stands for David Brown.
The DB1 was successful and so were the successors- DB2 and DB3. But what really caught people’s attention and what really made people notice Aston Martin was the DB4. It debuted at the 1958 London Motor Show and people fell in love with it instantly. In our opinion, it is still one of the most beautiful cars ever made but topped sooner than expected and by none other than its own successor.
If you think of Aston Martin today, you don’t think ‘noticeable’. You think ‘desirable’. And if the DB4 took care of the former, how did it come to the latter? Well, if you remember the movie, you remember the man and if so, you remember the car as well. But let’s not rely on that. The movie is Goldfinger (1964). The man is Sean Connery as 007 or James Bond. And the car is DB5, one of THE most beautiful cars ever made. Now that’s desirable.
Those are some great cars and great achievements. But the reason why Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin founded Aston Martin was to make race cars. Even David Brown did not buy Aston Martin only because the Atom was a wonderful car. He was big on racing, he saw potential in Aston Martin and that is why he bought it.
In that sense, racing is something that is embedded in the DNA of Aston Martin and an integral part of why they make cars in the first place. An example of their prowess could be the Aston Martin DBR1 which won the World Sportscar Championship in 1959. Is that aspirational? Absolutely and to the extent that the first one of the five DBR1s made sold for 22.5 Million dollars and it was raced by *drum roll* Carroll Shelby and Stirling Moss. Yep, let that sink in.
We hope the history lesson was not too long and even if it was, we assure you that it fits well in this piece. Anyway, what does all that history and accolades entail? Well, just that every DB car has a lot to live up to. The Aston Martin DB9 sort of did. And the DB11… it does that with ease. It has everything that it needs to proudly wear the DB badge and then some.
Let us start with the design and get one of the most important bits out of the way. Aston Martin emphasizes following the Golden Ratio in designing all of their cars. That is one of the significant factors that lend Aston Martins their distinct looks. You can see that in the DB9 and you can see it in the DB11.
What is the Golden Ratio? In simple terms, it means that you design the car in such a way that every dimension, every panel, even the minor lines and the proportions are in harmony with each other. Invariably, achieving it requires an obsessive attention to detail. Aston Martin designers and engineers are probably hired on the basis of that trait because one look at the sharp and sinuous silhouette of the DB11 and you know that obsessive is the right prefix for attention to detail here.
At xBhp, we have experienced our fair share of supercars. Quite a few of them simply blew our minds but perhaps none of them was as pleasing to the eyes as the Aston Martin DB11 is. As angelic (soft and smooth) as the lines are, the demonic bits (sharpness) add another dimension to the beauty of the DB11.
The signature grille flanked by the beautiful headlamps, the boomerang taillamps accentuated by the active spoiler and that darn roofline. Being visual artists ourselves, the only thing we can compare the DB11 with visually is a beautiful sunrise. And then there are special bits like this- the tyres are manufactured by Bridgestone exclusively for the DB11 and on the sidewall, you can see that Bridgestone used 007 as the official code for these tyres.
With the DB11, it is not just about the looks either. Form marries function in the design theme adopted for the flagship GT of the British marquee. The aerodynamic efficiency that this car achieves is serious. The air is channelled through and around the bodywork and vented out of the rear like a jet stream.
There’s an active spoiler system too which is patented by the name Aeroblade. That can be a fitting name for some special weapon that Bond wields. Coming back to the point, the attention to aerodynamics is also one of the reasons behind the scintillating numbers associated with the Aston Martin DB11.
Since the topic of numbers is at hand, let us tell you that the DB11 variant that we got to drive has a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 under the hood. The massive engine is capable of producing 600 bhp of power and 700 Nm of torque. 100 km/h from a standstill takes just 3.7 seconds and if you can find a place to do that, you’ll see a top speed of 335 km/h on the speedo. How does a car that weighs 1,800 kilos do that? It does when it is an Aston Martin DB11. On that note, There’s a V8 variant of the DB11 as well but that is for some other time… if we can be a third-time-lucky.
When it comes to driving the DB11, it is like a Transformer. In one moment, you are driving it in a gear or two higher than usual and being all civil and tame. And in the next, it can brutalize the tarmac and ready to hand you the honour of finally inventing time travel.
This figurative shapeshifting that the DB11 is capable of reminds one of a certain ‘green accident’. Bruce Banner talks about Gamma radiation and speaks Tony Stark English. The Hulk simply tears sh*t up. But they are the same person and the only difference is the temper of this person at any given moment. In the case of the DB11, the mode selector is the anger button. Incidentally, it does come in green too.
In the city, the DB11 behaves like your regular car despite it being a billion miles away from regular. Because of the immense torque and tractable nature of the V12, you can put it in GT mode, select a higher gear, and just let it thrum around town as it is not very noisy (although in the undertone, it does keep you informed of the storm that’s brewing under the hood). There are no fueling inconsistencies and no jerks or lurches. It is simply silken.
One must not forget though that despite the GT mode, the twin-turbo V12 is still just that and if you floor it, the acceleration is mind-blowing and the Gs exerted are tremendous. And yet, it is a whole different beast when you switch the modes. Things are livelier in ‘S’ mode but the ‘S+’ is what ‘revelations’ and ‘epiphanies’ are all about. It is loud and brash and brutal.
But the modes do not only work on sharpening the throttle response, noise and transmission. The difference in the dynamics of the car in different modes is tangible too. See, even if the roads aren’t straight or if you aren’t in a drag race, the S+ mode nearly turns this Grand Tourer into a point-and-shoot sports car… nearly.
The suspension is supple in GT mode and the ride is pliant so the DB11 simply glides over undulations and small potholes. In S+ though, things are dialled to 11. The suspension is taut and the feedback you get is almost overwhelming. But put your head down, listen to the car, and drive properly and it is a hoot. You can place it wherever you want in a corner and it will hold the line.
Despite the engine being in the front, the folks at Aston Martin were able to move it back just enough for this car to have a 50-50 weight distribution. That contributes to the wonderful balance that the car exhibits. Last but not least, it is real-wheel drive so, in addition to the fantastic handling characteristics that it brings with it, the DB11 can oblige you with some sideways action too.
While all that is good to have, this is not the forte of the Aston Martin DB11. At the core, the DB11 is still a GT even though considering all that it can do, we’d like to call it a Super GT. After all, Hulk is good to have on your side when you have to fight aliens. Bruce Banner is the guy you want when you want to talk universe.
That’s what you do inside the car. The cabin is rich and reeks of handmade quality. It is so elegant, so immersive that you nearly forget all that tyre marks you left on the tarmac. Exquisite materials and stellar craftsmanship added to all the tech you need and more.
It is so amazing to think that it has stuff that you perhaps don’t bother about till you need it and when you do, the DB11 serves that to you on a platter. While the digitalization of the cabin is more than acceptable, we do miss the counter-clockwise tacho and speedo of the old DBs. And that, just that, is the only gripe we have with this car. It is nitpicking at its worst but we’re calling it as we see it.
The DB11 is a car that makes you sigh with both- want and relief. Want, for obvious reasons. Relief because you know that there are makers out there who’d still make cars like this… and with pride! We want to thank Aston Martin for making cars like this. We want to appreciate them for being abreast through tough times. We want to congratulate them on their recent success in the market and in racing. And if we ever felt so inclined to do all that in person and head to Gaydon from New Delhi, we know what we’d want to drive.