Aston Martin has long since established the brand right at the top of subtle elegance.
While their supercars are most definitely real supercars, everything about them from the image to the driving experience is akin to a bespoke tailored suit. The DB11 has been around for three years now, having been introduced in 2016 as a replacement to the DB9. We were offered the keys to a 2020 Aston Martin DB11 V8 Coupe, painted in a distinctive Sunburst Yellow, for a week to evaluate where the brand’s grand tourer now fits in.
It goes without saying that Aston Martin’s current design language is unique and very obviously Aston, but we couldn’t help but notice that the DB11 doesn’t appear to be as timeless as the DB9 it replaces. The years 2004 to 2015 were particularly defining for modern Aston Martins, with iconic designs like the Vanquish, DBS, and even the Vantage. This DB11 is handsome to look at and the fascia is stunning, but there are some awkward angles and an oddly high beltline. We received plenty of observations from passerby over our test week, and the consensus was that it’s pretty, but not stunningly beautiful.
Former Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer is no longer with the company, but before leaving, he established a partnership between Aston Martin and Daimler AG. With Daimler owning a five percent stake in Aston Martin, the hand-built twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter AMG engine that we recently sampled in the AMG GT R (reviewed here) is, with some modification, the heart of both the DB11 as well as the Vantage. The other available engine in the DB11 is a twin-turbocharged 5.2-liter V12 that is, for all intents and purposes, all Aston Martin.
The V8 is the powerhouse in most DB11 models, and is responsible for a weight savings of 253 pounds, and it’s also barely two tenths of a second slower to 100km/h than the V12. Output is 503 horsepower and 498 lb-ft. of torque, with a 4.0-second acceleration time to a hundred. The AMG V8 is paired to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission which remains the gold standard for conventional torque converter automatics. It’s a very responsive gearbox with satisfying column-mounted shifters, and capable of doing the job just fine if left to its own accord.
The AMG engine doesn’t sound all that different from the Mercedes application, with a little more drama added to the exhaust note, typical for an Aston Martin. The folks in Gaydon have tweaked the exhaust to reduce low-RPM bass and add more of a scream at higher RPMs. Better weight distribution is the key here, with a slight rearward shift over the V12 DB11, and this means the car changes direction more confidently and the chassis is more communicative overall. The rear subframe bushings and shock rates have been stiffened as well.
As a result, while the DB11 may not exactly be a rambunctious rocket, it’s a sensational grand tourer. It eats away highway miles in the most comfortable way, with minimal road noise transmitted to the cabin and sublime ride quality. It’s an exquisite place to spend time and there’s an incredible amount of suppleness without the car feeling S-Class (reviewed here) levels of soft. Ingress and egress is easy as well, with plenty of space in the front seats. Given this is a 2+2 grand tourer, there are rear seats, but they aren’t exactly adult-friendly.
The Aston Martin DB11’s interior is beautifully laid out, with traditional cues such as the center-stack mounted engine start button surrounded by the gear selector buttons. The infotainment system is the previous version of Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND interface, again a result of the Daimler partnership. This system lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and is definitely well past its prime. Bluetooth streaming audio is on board, and sound quality is decent, but nowhere near up to the caliber of the Bang & Olufsen systems offered in the previous generation car.
The DB11 V8 starts at $236,400 in Canada, just above the Vantage in the lineup. Our test vehicle was optioned with power seat bolsters, Aston Martin premium audio, Q Special paint, Nexus Quilting, Celestial Perforation, and yellow brake calipers. Factor in a Black Pack for the exterior, smoked taillights, and some miscellaneous items and the total comes to $270,860 before fees and taxes. With a virtually unlimited amount of customization available, the as-tested price is purely an estimate and your ideal spec DB11 could come to tens of thousands above or below this price.
Comparatively, the DB11 stacks up quite well against the likes of the Rolls-Royce Wraith, Bentley Continental GT and even its quasi-cousin, the Mercedes-AMG GT R. As far as dedicated grand tourers are concerned though, only the Bentley comes dangerously close, and the typical Aston Martin buyer wouldn’t be cross-shopping Continental GTs. As it stands, the DB11 is surprisingly usable in a day-to-day situation, and with its observed fuel efficiency of 13.2L/100km, is also relatively efficient. The 2020 Aston Martin DB11 V8 Coupe is a spectacular grand tourer and certainly worthy of the storied name.