Since it’s 1913 conception in a London workshop, Aston Martin has grown into a global brand, achieving cult status through its regular appearances in the Bond franchise and a reputation for being among the top luxury car marques in the world. And what a journey it has been.
The name Aston Martin was born at a motoring event in Buckinghamshire, when co-founder Lionel Martin drove the company’s latest creation at the Aston Clinton Hill Climb race and won. Fast-forward 30 years from this iconic victory, and Aston Martin introduced the world to the DB2; the first car to carry the prestigious ‘DB’ nameplate. But nothing would compare to the game-changing launch of the DB5 in 1963 – a car that became an instant international hit, propelling Aston Martin onto the global stage like never before.
Fifty-five years later, Aston Martin has entered what it calls its Second Century Plan, which will see the launch of seven all-new vehicles over the next few years, starting with the long-awaited Aston Martin DB11. The car has some big shoes to fill, beingthe latest in a long line of beautiful DB models, many of which have been immortalized on the silver screen by the films of the world’s favourite secret agent, James Bond. The DB6 (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), DBS (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace), DB10 (Spectre) and of course the magnificent DB5 (Goldfinger, Thunderball, Goldeneye and Skyfall) have all left theatres of grown men weak at the knees over the pastfew decades. The DB11 is ready to take it to the next level.
So it is with considerable excitement that I arrive at Aston Martin’s Dubai garage to pick up a set of keys for the most hotly anticipated car launch of the century. Even with one of the longest bonnets available on a production sports car, the DB11 is incredibly pretty. And the other end? It might just be the best vehicular rear-end I’ve ever seen. Those lines are truly beautiful. Every line on the DB11 has a purpose, channelling the air over and around the car to give you more grip at high speeds, and activating the new Aeroblade spoiler. (Yes, this is the first DB with a spoiler.) All these clever lines help the DB11 reach a hair-splitting top speed of 321 kph, but I doubt I’ll be testing that out today.
Of course, clever body design and a spoiler aren’t the only elements you need to hit such high speeds. The DB11 is powered by a V8 or V12 engine. I am fortunate enough to be sampling the V12; a dual turbo engine that provides 608 horses for my driving pleasure, and will propel me from 0-100 kph in 3.9 seconds, which is more than fast enough for a car that’s main objective is to tour countries, not win drag races. Out on the road, the DB11 exceeds expectations. In GT mode you could easily drive this car for many hours. That large V12 engine purrs in the background quietly, and the suspension is supple, soaking up all the bumps and dips the road throws at it without disturbing your driving pleasure.
The ergonomic seat design is complemented by superb comfort levels, and the air-conditioned seats keep you feeling fresh even during a long drive. Engage the cruise control, turn up the music and your time on the dull highway won’t be remotely arduous. If you are stuck on one of the many dull roads this planet as to offer, the DB11’s upgraded infotainment system (created by the team over at Mercedes) is a big step forward. It’s no secret that Aston Martin’s infotainment systems have been a bit lacking in the past, but the new set-up has all the stand-out bells and whistles you’d expect for a premium vehicle; think Bang & Olufsen speakers, which are quite remarkable. That said, I don’t feel it’s that different to what you’ll find in a premium Mercedes, and it feels like Aston Martin has missed an opportunity to put their own stamp on a familiar system.
Elements of the new-look Second Century Plan again reveal themselves with the all-new digital dash, a fixture on all new Aston Martin vehicles going forward. Gone are the analogue dials; you now get three elegant displays depending on what mode you’re driving in: GT, Sport and Sport+. The company has also made it very quick and easy to adjust your driving experience; a ‘S’ button on the right side of the wheel and a suspension logo button on the left change the DB11 from a gentle GT to a ferocious animal.
Engage Sports+ and the supple ride becomes stiffer and tighter. The engine no longer plays second fiddle to the thumping bass of the car’s sound system. There’s not even a hint of a turbo noise either; the roar of the V12 sounds just as good as a naturally aspirated engine. Just a touch of the pedal and the DB11 thrusts forward; for such a large car it feels nimble and fun. Is this due to the fact that an ex-Lotus engineer has worked on this car? Probably. Aston Martins have never been slow, but this DB11 has found the perfect marriage of speed and enjoyment. If you have the opportunity take a DB11 on to a track I’m sure it’d be incredibly fun. When you’re done indulging your inner hooligan, simply press S, engage GT mode and you’re back to luxurious comfortable driving.
The DB11 ticks all the boxes. It looks beautiful, as all Aston Martins should, and inside, it’s luxurious interior will rival any other car. Of course, the interiors are fully customisable; with each DB11 being hand made, you’re free to speak to the geniuses at the company’s Q division, who can help you configure the car to whatever your heart desires. And the performance? Watch out villains: you’re going to need something pretty special if Bond’s driving one of these.
NUTS & BOLTS:
Engine: 5.2-litre V12 bi-turbo
0-100 kph: 3.9 seconds
Max power: 600 bhp
Top speed: 322 kph
Reviewed model: AED 945,000 (US $257,374)