Aston Martin DB11 review – British GT shows poise and pace
The DB11 is a fantastic GT car with a superb balance that is best on bigger roads
The DB11 was the beginning of a new era for Aston Martin, introducing turbocharging, a heavily updated chassis design and Mercedes-influence inside the cabin to an Aston Martin range that would soon expand to four individual full-production models.
The DB11 is the centerpoint of that range, surrounded by the smaller and more aggressive Vantage, the flagship DBS Superlerggera and the new DBX SUV. The DB11 is now the oldest Aston Martin on sale, but also perhaps the one that most embodies the brand’s ethos as it moves to a new generation of models and corporate leadership.
In 2020 the DB11 is available in three forms, starting with the entry-level V8 in both Coupe and Volante form, and moving on to the DB11 AMR which packs a bigger V12 punch. The ‘standard’ DB11 is no longer available with a V12, but that’s no bad thing given the vast improvements the AMR’s suite of changes brought to the model last year.
The concept of the grand touring car itself has evolved from its historical roots in recent times though. While the GT was once exclusive in its offer of high performance without a deterioration in comfort, this is no longer something it can claim exclusive rights to. Performance saloons and estates and even the occasional SUV strike a fine compromise to arguably greater effect today, leaving the traditional GT car with just one ace up its sleeve.
That ace is style. Only a GT can offer the sort of glamour and presence typically associated with its most illustrious predecessors - floating down to the French Rivera just isn’t quite the same in a fast estate. This is something the DB11 along with only a few direct rivals still pull off, and it’s what keeps Aston Martin’s creation relevant in a high-end market where diversity reigns supreme.
Aston Martin DB11: in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > All DB11s are built from an aluminium spaceframe chassis with either a front-mid mounted V8 or V12
- Performance and 0-60mph time > All DB11s have huge performance. Both V8 and V12 models use their excess of torque to impressive effect
- Ride and Handling > Refreshingly free of performance car rhetoric, the DB11 resolutely sticks to the GT brief. The DB11 is hugely capable; less thrilling than its sportier siblings, yet able to happily transport you and a friend to the Italian lakes without breaking sweat.
- MPG and running costs > Efficiency is not the DB11s strong point, economy ranges between 18-24mpg on paper. Which you’ll struggle to match on the road.
- Interior and tech > Aston might have moved over to a Mercedes-based infotainment systems, but it’s already three (!) generations out-of-date. Quality is varied, but materials are superb.
- Design > Not the classically elegant 2+2 coupe its predecessors were, but spec wisely and the DB11 will still turn heads for the right reasons.
Prices, specs and rivals
An Aston Martin is always reassuringly expensive, especially when in four-seater form, and the DB11 is no different. The V8 model will set you back from £147,900, with the soft-top Volante model costing an extra £12k at £159,900. The AMR starts at a more substantial £174,995, but given its homegrown V12 engine and chassis upgrades seems like a reasonable increase. Aston Martin won’t sell you a V12-powered DB11 Volante, but the £225,000 DBS is now available if you want the ultimate V12 drop-top experience.
Given Aston Martin doesn’t have a big parent company to lean on, it does perhaps lack some of the modern-car technology one would of expect like matrix headlights or autonomous driving aids, but Aston makes up for this with an exceptionally high standard of material quality and the world of bespoke touches that only smaller companies can provide. There’s an impressive array of standard finishes inside and out, but get creative with Aston’s Q personalisation department and the possibilities are almost endless.
When it comes to rivals, the twelve-cylinder GT is becoming an increasingly rare species, with only Bentley and Ferrari offering direct alternatives to the big Aston. The Bentley Continental GT is the DB11’s most direct rival, and like the DB11 is available in both 12- and 8-cylinder options. It starts at just £1000 more than the Aston for the entry-level V8 model, and has the legs on the Aston’s power output, is bigger, more lavishly equipped and has the same exceptionally high material quality.
Backing the Aston into even more of a corner is the Bentley’s higher standard of tech and, it must be said, build quality. The difference between the two cars is more nuanced than the extra rear-seat legroom and inches to the infotainment screen though, as the Bentley is a markedly bigger and heavier car. It is a more settled and refined GT next to the Aston which holds it’s sporting nature as more of an essential attribute.
Ferrari’s GTC4Lusso and Lusso T are two more full-sized four-seaters, again in both V8 and V12 flavours, but the £168k and £198k starting prices make them a considerably more expensive exercise even before you turn to Ferrari’s typically extensive and expensive options list. They’re also bigger with four full-sized seats and a proper boot, as well as having the boon of a body which opens up into an estate-like space