Aston Martin DB11 review (2016-2023) – traditional GT with old-school appeal
The DB11's plush, laid-back character is deeply alluring and befitting of a true GT, but the new DB12 brings a shot of extra excitement
Aston Martin has gone through something of a challenging period since the DB11’s launch back in 2016. Stagnant sales, over-expenditure, a disastrous floating on the stock market and a revolving door of CEOs have dominated the news cycle, but under the leadership of Lawrence Stroll, the company's future looks – dare we say – a little brighter. The new DB12 is the first of the Stroll-era Aston Martins, adopting a new and more dazzling character than before; but that's not to say the DB11 wasn't one of the best GT cars on sale until its replacement arrived.
The front-engined 2+2 doesn’t stray far from the proven GT recipe, offering a choice of either V8 or V12 engines, both turbocharged and mated to an automatic transmission powering the rear wheels. There’s also an open-top Volante variant, but all channel the same undeniable ‘Britishness’ that has come to define Aston Martin as much as its tedious James Bond link. Aston’s future path is set to evolve this traditional aura, with more aggressive 'super-GT' cars, EVs and a closer relationship than ever to its F1 operations.
So is the DB11 still relevant, or is it the Grand Tourer itself that’s at risk of extinction? 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.
Still, the DB11 exudes the wonderful traits that have defined the best Aston Martins over the years. It has a distinct 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 German estate. This is something the DB11 along with only a few direct rivals still pull off, and it’s what makes the DB11 deeply desirable even in the wake of its successor.
Aston Martin DB11: in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > All DB11s are built from an aluminium space-frame 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 capable, but not quite as multi-talented as some rivals
- MPG and running costs > Efficiency is not the DB11’s strong point, economy ranging between 18 and 24mpg on paper, which you’ll struggle to match on the road
- Interior and tech > Ambiance is unmatched, with stunning materials and leatherwork that could only come from the UK. Tech, well, hmm…
- Design > The DB11 has aged remarkably well, and shares its overall proportions with the newer, more aggressive DB12
With two engines and body styles available – not to mention a more focused AMR version – the DB11 had a variety of rival coupes to contend with, most obviously the Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari Roma. It's always sat somewhere between the two for opulence and engagement, carving out a distinct character and wide appeal as a GT car.
Even so, the Roma is more exciting at the very edge and the Bentley's interior is more sumptuous and high tech. Aston recognised these relative shortcomings with the DB12, which wades into battle with a revamped interior and a sharper edge to its dynamics.