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Aston Martin DB9 Sports Pack Car Review | September 25, 2006

Driven September 2006

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The pecking order at the local golf club just got slightly more complicated. Everyone knows the DB9 is more likely to lead to the club captaincy than the V8 Vantage, just like the 911 is more upwardly mobile than the Cayman. But now Aston has launched the DB9 Sport and there's been a subtle shift at the top of the tree.

The new Sports Pack option brings a heap of changes, although they're not easy to spot at a glance.

The 19in alloys are 1kg lighter each, and are the only easy visual cue to the Sport; the composite undertray has been replaced by an aluminium one, and the ride height has been lowered by six millimetres with stiffer front and rear springs.

If all that's a bit obvious for you and you still need a deal-clincher to impress your tee-off pals, the wheel nuts have been altered. To save a couple of grams in unsprung weight, they're now titanium.

But the reason that the standard DB9 is no longer enough is that the sum of these minor alterations is greater than the parts - the DB9 Sport (£112,245) is an entirely different beast and feels properly sorted.

There are aspects of the ordinary car's handling that can be somewhat unsettling. The steering has a dead spot either side of centre and there seems to be too much lateral movement at the rear during hard cornering. Most of which has been cured in the Sport. You can still occasionally feel that movement at the back, but it's now all but eliminated.

There's much more feel to the whole package, so you can drive this thing faster and with more commitment - no mid-corner lift required. The nose still turns in sharply, but the difference is that the rear follows with ease.

In fact, everything is more precise, from the brakes to the steering - which is lighter but also missing that dead feeling. Crucially, it's also lacking the kickback you get in the standard DB9.

Any trade-offs for all these benefits? The ride is certainly harder, but it's by no means uncomfortable. It jiggles more over the small imperfections of a back road, but it still feels well damped and is a long way from being harsh. The DB9 Sport is certainly still a fine GT car.

This is the DB9 that should have been engineered from the start. All the major controls are so much tauter that you now feel like you're directly connected to the car.

Before, there was a feeling that the DB9 could do something and then let you know about it. In the Sport, you get a crucial warning period and that gives you more control.

Piers Ward

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