What is it?
The new generation, £131,995 Aston Martin DB9. It gets a more powerful 5.9-litre V12 engine, a stiffer aluminium chassis, standard-fit carbon brakes and an even more elegantly designed body than before.
It’s more a case of subtle updates than wholesale changes here. For example, the all-aluminium VH chassis architecture has been improved for greater rigidity and sound insulation by adding new underbody sheer panels and improving the bonding, all helping to give an extra 20 per cent in chassis stiffness (30 per cent greater for the Volante open-topped version of DB9).
Aston’s new generation 5.9-litre V12 engine delivers significantly more power than before too; peak power is now 510bhp (up 40bhp) and peak torque 457lb ft (up 14lb ft) thanks to an increased compression ratio (11:1), revised valve timing and new engine management calibration.
Other changes include standard-fit CCM carbon brakes and a new three-way adaptive damping system that we first got to experience in the new Aston Martin Vanquish, reviewed last month.
What’s it like to drive?
Very good. If you haven’t driven a DB9 for a while, you’d be amazed at the steady improvement Aston has made to their most popular model over recent years, but this new car is easily the best one yet.
It’s a proper GT car, plenty quick enough when the mood takes you (0-62mph in 4.6sec, though a 183mph top speed is 7mph lower than before) but also equally adept at cruising. What’s really changed with this new version is how good this car is at flowing down a challenging road when pushed. Steering feel and chassis balance all come together to give the driver supreme confidence to keep pressing on and when it comes to stopping, the carbon brakes offer exemplary feel and power.
Another surprise is how subtly the new dampers work and even in the middle ‘Sport’ setting the ride remains acceptable but for ultimate body control, there’s the final ‘Track’ setting, which is still compliant enough to be of use on the road.
My only gripe is with the 6-speed auto gearbox (no manual option), which is good but not class leading, particularly when it comes to the speed of gearchange and the number of gears available. On give and take roads, a longer second gear would be useful but then the torque of the DB9’s V12 engine is so great, it’s often better to keep it in third anyway.
How does it compare?
It’s hard to call a car costing £131,995 value but for a hand-built, ultra exclusive V12 Coupe as beautiful as the DB9, it probably is. Its closest rival is the Bentley Continental GT (£122,000 in V8 form) but then that car feels pretty leaden when pushed compared to this new generation DB9.
Anything else I need to know?
Some will complain this DB9 looks too similar to the old one, but that’s missing the point; the latest 911 looks similar to every other but is completely different to drive and it’s the same with the DB9, which has matured into a class act and is now quite possibly the best Aston on sale today.