New-found dynamic ability, interior is a massive step on, a much more complete all-rounder
Styling hasn’t progressed as far, pricing likely to increase, boot and back seats are still small
What is it?
A new direction for Aston Martin. Grand Tourers are no longer particularly relevant, goes the thinking, so the new DB12 is a more dynamic and thoroughly modernised DB11. The ‘world’s first Super Tourer’ is the claim, although that’s a term that has been bandied around before, applied to cars such as the Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari Roma that bridge the GT/Supercar divide. That’s where the DB12 is aiming though.
It looks a lot like a DB11 or DBS – is it that new underneath?
Let’s deal with the underneath first. It uses the same chassis and suspension set-up as its predecessor and a similar twin turbo V8 engine. You could accuse Aston of conducting a facelift rather than developing a new car, and you wouldn’t, technically, be wrong.
Hang on, you didn’t mention the V12.
That’s because it is no more. Emissions legislation has finally caught up with it. The DB12 will be V8 only. No hybrid assistance to give a useful power (and weight…) boost, either. In the DB11 this Merc-sourced V8, available since 2018, developed 528bhp. But now it’s benefited from modified camshafts, an 8.6:1 compression ratio, overhauled cooling, plus – naturally – bigger turbos, it’s gained over 150bhp. The final figures are 671bhp and 590lb ft. More than either the Porsche or Ferrari can muster.
All of that charges to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox that now boasts a shorter final drive for better sprinting. 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds since you’re asking, and still a 202mph top end.
The old DB11 wasn’t famed for its chassis control, surely another 150bhp makes it a liability?
Well it would if Aston hadn’t gone to town on the rest of it. Extra bracing means the all-aluminium bonded platform is seven per cent stiffer, but it’s work that’s gone into the damping and body control that has really transformed this Aston Martin.
It is vastly better supported, more accurate and predictable through corners than the DB11. That used to wallow when pushed, culminating in an uncomfortable corkscrew motion coming out of corners. No more. It now does the driver’s bidding, doesn’t get out of shape and retains control when pushed hard. Plus it still has the ability to cruise in great comfort and silence. Or not, if you rouse the V8. That still sounds corking, by the way (more in the Driving tab).
In short, it’s better mannered everywhere, rides expensively and has what it needs to take the fight to the best rivals out there.
And what rivals are those?
The Bentley Conti GT springs quickly to mind. It still ploughs a heavyweight GT furrow, but does it unmatchably well (another reason for Aston to desert that area). Then there’s the aforementioned Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari Roma. And they’re both sportier still than the DB12. The Turbo is a tense and determined thing these days, while the Roma is an over-caffeinated coupe with an awkward-to-use cabin.
Come to think of it, how’s the DB12 inside?
Thought you’d never ask. It’s been transformed. The DB11 had dated quite quickly. The dash was fiddly and congested, the Merc-sourced infotainment was clunky and the design was very old school Brit GT. Nice materials, but not that attractively put together.
The interior makeover is as significant as the suspension transformation. Rather than vertical lines rising from the centre console to bisect the dash, strong horizontal lines have been used, adding width and reducing distraction by mounting the switchgear and screens lower. And rejoice – the screens aren’t Mercedes’ offcasts from a couple of generations back, but now developed in-house, more responsive and with better graphics. Aston’s first touchscreen, no less.
The driving position is great, the seats are lovely and the confluence of mirror and A-pillar has been cleared out, improving visibility no end. It’s still not a big car inside. The rear seats are properly cramped, the boot’s quite small and the lid doesn't open far enough so you can bang your head when leaning down.
What about the way it looks, though – it’s hardly moved the game on, has it?
The overall proportions and design language haven’t changed much, but the stance, the way the wheels pack the arches, the vents on the sides… it’s now a more assertive, aggressive and brawnier car.
The DB12 leans towards the ground vacated by the DBS, but it’s slightly less brutish, has less muscle, more tone than that. Many now feel the grille has got out of hand, that it’s too big, but we don’t see that as an issue. Aston knows how to design a handsome machine. And pick a colour. Iridescent Emerald (as displayed in the gallery above) looks tremendous.
Speaking of the DBS, I assume another will be along in due course?
We must assume so, although don’t go expecting it to bring back the twin turbo V12. We suspect Aston will work more on its positioning and dynamics than creating another ‘brute in a suit’ to sit above the main model.
A hybrid version would make sense – you can guarantee Aston will be keeping a beady eye on how the Maserati GranTurismo Folgore is received – but it requires huge investment and technical know-how. That could be done in partnership with Mercedes, but Aston would need to know demand was out there. And given the DB12 is hardly big inside, the packaging would be challenging.
It would also add significant weight.
It would – not that the DB12 is too heavy. Aston claims a 1,685kg dry weight, which ought to work out at around 1,820kg DIN.
What will I have to pay?
As yet we’re not sure, but prices are likely to start at around £185,000 when the DB12 goes on sale this autumn.
What's the verdict?
The DB12 is the most accomplished Aston Martin we’ve driven in years. It finally has the spread of talents and abilities to make it a viable alternative to the best rivals out there. It sits squarely in the middle ground between the Ferrari Roma and Porsche 911 Turbo on one side, and the Bentley Conti GT on the other. That may make its claim to be a super-tourer look a bit empty, but just because it’s not the sportiest car in its class doesn’t mean it’s not the best. We’ll be trying to get it together with them soon.
Beyond that, the styling sells the DB12 short. What looks like nothing more than a good facelift conceals a cabin that’s night-and-day better than the old DB11, and dynamics that, while not upsetting comfort at all, have given the DB12 newfound athleticism, control and purpose. It’s a very convincing machine.