Sporty to drive as a V8, super luxurious as a V12. Looks plain lovely
Not the most up-to-date GT car inside, nor is it especially practical
What is it?
It’s an all-new Aston Martin. No, really. The DB11 marked the start of a whole new chapter for the company with a new, stiffer bonded aluminium chassis, mildly inflated dimensions over the DB9, and new engines. Not just one, but two.
The DB11 launched in 2016 with a new twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 engine, which was joined a year later by an AMG-sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Both drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed paddleshift automatic gearbox.
There's clean-sheet styling – there are cues from DB9s of old, but the overall look is very fresh – and a new electronic architecture supplied by Mercedes. And it kicks off an exciting new phase in the Aston story with all manner of hypercars, mid-engined supercars, crossovers, and electrified Lagondas on the horizon, not to mention a return to the top tier of Le Mans.
But Aston’s not forgotten its front-engined GT roots, and so the DB11 and Vantage remain at the base of its ever-increasing range. The DB11 launched as a coupe but is now also offered as a Volante soft-top. Neither feel as scalpel-sharp as some rivals at the same £150k ballpark - Audi R8s, Porsche 911s, McLaren 570s – but the DB11 straddles the ground between performance cars like those and softly damped GTs from Bentley and Merc.
Aston's injected a little more muscle since 2016, though; the V12 car initially launched to slightly reserved praise and improvements ushered in for the V8 model have since been applied to the bigger-engined version, which now wears AMR (Aston Martin Racing) badges. Don’t go thinking it’s a stripped-out 911 GT3 rival, though; those badges mislead a wee bit as this is still very much a continent-crossing GT, just with firmer, more satisfying responses should you ever choose to push its chassis closer to its limits.
Indeed, it’s still layered in finely stitched leather inside, still has back seats, and still feels most in its comfort zone when you relax, at which point the V12 whispers eerily quietly in the background. You want anger? Then Aston also offers the DBS Superleggera, a broadly DB11-based supercar that manages to be a whole heap more animated.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The best car Aston's made in years? Until the wild and wonderful DBS won our hearts, almost certainly. The option of both V8 and V12 options – each with its own distinct character – means it's a jolly good all-rounder, more so than the DB9 it replaces. Our inclination would be to go for the more hooligan sports car charm of the V8, as it can still act the GT if you want it to.
But there's something imperious about the V12 too, an irresistible luxury that only an oversized, overpowered engine brings. You can't really make a bad choice, but the V8’s cheaper price will always allow you more leeway for options on the configurator.