A weekend in an Aston Martin DB11
TG's motoring editor has an Aston Martin DB11. Time to steal it for a few days
Top Gear has an Aston Martin DB11 for six months. You can catch up on all its details here, including how we specced it from £157,900 to £187,005. But it’s safe to assume without further research that we rather like it.
So much so, that chances to drive it have to be grasped whenever possible. So when its keeper – motoring editor Ollie Marriage – had other wheels for the weekend, that’s exactly what I did.
My phone weather app was showing lots of little suns, so I plonked Exmoor into the sat nav and went for a very long drive. Lots of good things have been said about the DB11, and I had a whole weekend to find out if they’re true. Place hate mail in the comments box below…Advertisement - Page continues below
First off, doesn’t it look well in Cobalt Blue? Marriage reckons the colour splits opinion, but I’ve not met a soul who dislikes it. With the contrasting black roof it looks magnificent, though that’s an option that tricks some people into thinking it’s some sort of clever convertible.
It gets an awful lot of attention this car, and it’s all positive. It’s astounding how many people will stop filling up their car to come and ask about it in a fuel station, or flagrantly ignore the green cross code to dash through traffic to come take a peek. Try that in a Ferrari or Porsche with 600bhp or a £187k price tag. Something about Astons clearly suggests you’ll be a friendlier person to approach…
So much cool detailing, too. Forward hinging bonnets always seem especially exotic (though you do get one on a mk1 Renault Clio), even more so when there’s an intricate headlight cut-out and a sneaky peak at the front wheel arch aero.Advertisement - Page continues below
To drive? It’s brilliant, even if this isn’t a super sharp sports car. Instead, it rides sublimely and makes long distances feel very short. There are no better stress relievers on sale.
Find a good road, though, and its dynamics remind me of a Mazda MX-5. Really. There’s lots of pitch and roll, so you get a gentle prod the DB11’s limits are approaching, allowing you to either back off and slow down, or adjust the car’s balance to your liking and get on the power.
In the dry, anyway. When it’s wet, all that turbocharged torque can make it a little spiky on the exit of a corner. It’s all very well contained by the traction electronics, mind.
A turbo engine means good fuel economy when you’re being careful, too. On a long distance run, I got 27mpg out of the DB11, with no hypermiling nonsense on my part. On Exmoor’s topsy-turvy rollercoaster roads I got, um, 12mpg. But that’s fine. It was worth every penny.
I love the buttons on the steering wheel that adjust the powertrain and suspension through their various modes (pictured just below the paddles). It makes it far easier to chop and change settings – getting a sharper engine map with softer suspension, for instance – than many of its rivals, which make you delve into on-screen sub-menus.
The driving position is just downright brilliant, in fact. It’s possible to drive hours on end and not feel a single twinge. I’ve had a bit of a bad back lately and it subsided during my weekend in the DB11. Comfier than a sofa, then. Scientifically proven.
That's not me in the picture, by the way, but my little nephew Max.Advertisement - Page continues below
He loves the DB11. And is very appreciative of the elongated steering wheel paddles, which are far easier to reach than the little stubby buttons you get on, say, an Audi R8.
Allowing smaller hands to reach them seemingly makes the DB11 the perfect first sports car, as this grin evidences.
Downsides are few, but my least favourite thing about the DB11 is how flipping wide it is, most notably at the rear. Alright, it looks chuffing fantastic because of it. But look how mindful you have to be of those rear haunches; negotiating a tight petrol station isn’t the breeze it would be in something smaller and, er, less good looking.Advertisement - Page continues below
Teaming up with Mercedes-AMG has been the making of this car, with the technology finally good enough to match the styling and aural drama atop it. And the best bit is how bespoke the DB11 feels, how well hidden the parts sharing actually is. Unless you look closely when you plug in an iPod. Also, please don’t laugh at my ancient iPod.
Mind, if you like spotting faces in things, you’ll see Aston's ergonomics people have inadvertently put a rather unnerving set of eyes and teeth on the DB11’s dashboard. Or is that just me?
If you watched Matt LeBlanc drive the DB11 on Top Gear TV, you’ll have seen him playing with the gimmicky sliding arm rest.
Actually, I don’t think it’s all that gimmicky. Watch the video above and see how well it hides all the essentials – charging cable, sunglasses, the DB11’s bulky key, road trip sweets – and how intuitive accessing it all is. Honestly, it’s far less cumbersome than a hinged cover, and can be operated without your eyes leaving the road.
Despite the sunny forecast, some flash rain storms punctuated my weekend, and I’m not the sort of person who carries a brolly around “just in case”. Good job Aston’s got it covered, and with a gloriously crafted item clinging to the side of the boot. One that’s presumably worth more than my own car.
Little touches like that make Aston ownership (well, my two-day taste of it) a very enriching thing. While not perfect, the DB11 gets closer than any Aston I've ever driven, and it’s utterly endearing in everything it does.
My final stop before handing it back saw me park beside this V8 Vantage in motorway services. I’d grown so attached to Ollie’s DB11, I was insistent on parking it somewhere I knew it wouldn’t have doors wantonly flung open onto it. So I decided the company of another Aston would guarantee a careful owner.
I’d not been parked two seconds when said owner came sprinting across from Starbucks for a chat. He loved the colour, and loved the car. As do I.