|New designer Marek Reichmann fails to
match its predecessor Henrik Fisker in defining the new Aston
Although it arrived just
Vanquish went out of production, DBS is
neither the successor to Vanquish nor a new flagship Aston
Martin. Undoubtedly, an even faster flagship model will be developed
and sit above this car. So what is DBS ? In Dr. Bez's words, it
"bridges the gap between DB9 and the racing DBRS9", which means a
sportier version of DB9.
The DBS shares the VH aluminum spaceframe chassis of DB9 but clothed
with a more muscular enclosure designed by AM's new design director
Marek Reichman. It is slightly longer, wider and lower while wheelbase
remains the same. There are extra cooling intakes at the front,
pronounced sills and lip spoilers and larger diffusers at the rear to
deliver a more aggressive look. The same go for the larger 20-inch
10-spoke alloy wheels shod with wider and lower profile rubbers.
Style-wise, some people would criticize it for losing the pureness of
DB9, but it is still one of the most beautiful cars on the market.
James Bond would be proud of owning it.
While the chassis is mostly the same as DB9, the bodyshell underwent a
weight reduction - the bonnet, front fenders, doors, trunk lid and
diffusers are converted to carbon-fiber to save some 30 kg. Brembo
carbon-ceramic disc brakes save
another 12.5 kg. They employ pizza-size discs (398 mm front and 360 mm
rear) and powerful calipers (6-pot front and 4-pot rear) to provide
strong and fade-free stopping. Overall, the DBS is 65 kilograms
lighter than DB9 and a good 140 kg lighter than the outgoing Vanquish
|The roof, glass and taillights are
carried over from DB9, but most body panels are now carbon-fiber.
Inside, the dashboard and console is almost the same as DB9 - which is
a good thing. The door panels, handles and door sills are now made of
carbon-fiber to lift its high-tech image. However, the biggest
difference are the rear seats, or the lack of them, which means DBS is
strictly a 2-seater. Up front, a superb 10-way adjustable leather seats
standard while an equally supportive carbon-fiber buckets are optional,
which save another 20 valuable kg.
Under the bonnet again sits Aston Martin's 5.9-liter V12 engine, still
goes without variable valve timing, but now it uses higher compression
ratio (10.9:1 instead of 10.3:1) and adds a variable
induction system, which uses pass-by intake ports to open at above 5500
rpm to increase air flow. This lifts horsepower from the DB9's 450 to
510 at 6500 rpm. It still trails the outgoing Vanquish S by 10 horses,
but now the DBS has to comply with stricter Euro V emission standard.
Maximum torque remains unchanged at 420 lbft. The engine
drives the rear wheels through a standard 6-speed manual transaxle
automatic at the moment.
The suspensions are basically the same as DB9 except their tuning and
the adoption of Bilstein adaptive dampers. The latter provide 5
stiffness levels. The driver can select between normal mode and track
mode to alter the damping, traction control and stability control
|Modified V12 adds 60 hp to a total of
510 hp, still 110 horses short of Ferrari 599 GTB though...
On the Road
For sure, the new Aston is not in the same performance league as its
rival Ferrari 599GTB. That car could do 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, 0-100
mph in 6.8 seconds and ultimately top 208 mph. In contrast, the Aston
does 0-60 in 4.2 sec, 0-100 in 9.4 sec and tops 191 mph. In fact, it
will have problems to beat a Mercedes C63 AMG on the road... quite
embarrassing to a £160,000 grand tourer, isn't it ?
then the gentlemen drivers of Aston Martin never pursue ultimate
performance. They find satisfaction from the V12's magnificent noise
(something it has been renowned for since DB7 Vantage) and torquey
manner (what about sailing at 30 mph at 6th gear ?). They will be
surprised by the fact that DBS is actually more comfortable to drive
than DB9, thanks to the supple ride from the soft setting of adaptive
damping, the improved insulation from suspension and tire noise, the
light and progressive clutch and the lighter steering. We used to
criticize DB9 for too hardcore for a GT. Now DBS is the answer.
|New Kevlar bucket seats are superbly
comfortable and save 20 kg. Cabin mostly unchanged from DB9.
Push it into the bend, it is also more capable than DB9 - stronger
grip, amazing braking and more communicative steering, for example. The
chassis balance is good, if not as good as Ferrari. Oversteer is never
a concern. It can be pushed
to the limit without distorting its good handling. This is
unquestionably the best sorted Aston chassis.
But compare with 599GTB, it is nothing. Even in Track mode, its
steering and body control are not as precise as the Ferrari. Nor it is
as agile in the twisties. The Ferrari's revvy engine, explosive power
lightning-quick F1 gearbox amplify the difference further. This mean
while the Aston is a good handling machine, it lacks the endless
excitement brought by the Ferrari.
A bigger problem for the DBS lies in its electronic adaptive damping.
Track mode returns a very stiff ride, which is
absolutely not suitable on regular roads, while Normal mode is not that
good at body control. Running over undulating surfaces, the Normal mode
returns a floaty ride, fails to tie down the rear end so that the car
feels quite unwieldy. This prevents DBS from chasing other well
sorted GTs in real-world conditions, thus is the biggest weakness of
should have provided an intermediate setting between Normal and Track
At £160,000, the DBS seems somewhat overpriced compare with the
£110,000 DB9 and the £180,000 Ferrari 599 GTB. However, I
believe Dr. Bez' team will sort out the
damping problem very soon. By then it will be a decent alternative to
Ferrari, at least to gentlemen drivers.