The Aston Martin DBS will surprise you. It will give you a driving experience you will never have in quite the same way behind the wheel of any other vehicle, including its competitors. For if there was ever an issue about how a brand defines its own DNA and sets itself apart from its contemporaries, simply driving the Aston Martin DBS gives you all the answers.
It is powered by a mighty 5.2 litre V12. This last swan-song of big combustion power produces 715 brake horsepower and 900NM of torque, rocketing this car to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds up to a top speed of 211 miles per hour if you choose.
behind the wheel
Behind the wheel the dash controls are surprisingly user friendly, whilst a little on the dull side to look at for a car costing circa a quarter of a million pounds. In this particular case the deep grey monotone leather dash contrasts well with the red leather inserts of the seats and surrounding walls of the cabin. It makes better sense to look at the interior design ‘as a whole’ rather than simply the dash in order to understand the aesthetic. Yet in fairness, the dash itself is very well designed, and succeeds in overcoming the challenge all car designers have these days of seeking to incorporate ‘must have’ state of the art modern technology into an operative design that doesn’t require a degree in IT to operate.
Outside of that, there are a couple of occasional rear seats that we proved can hold an average sized adult in the back and a six-footer up front in reasonable comfort for short journeys. There’s enough boot-space for a well packed weekend away for two or three; the third being a small child for distance travelling.
What most of you will want to hear more than all of this is about how the DBS drives. This is our focus, and the experiential journey starts here……….
The DBS Experience
The deeper DBS story begins with the press of a button, nudging the big V 12 to grumble and growl into life. It sounds powerful; well-engineered. It is simply a matter of pressing ‘D’ on the dash to put the new rear mounted 8 speed ZF automatic transmission (aligned to a carbon fibre prop shaft) into ‘drive’, and then if you choose to control gear selection manually, there are steering mounted paddles. There are three driving modes beginning with GT as the default, or at the press of a button there is ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’
In line with the sporting character of the DBS it will thus stay in manual paddle shift mode once selected, unless you press the D button again to revert back to automatic. Good, clear, no-nonsense communication. What I particularly like is a control button for moving the centre console cover backwards and forwards; subtle, quite unique, and dare I say it, a bit ‘Bond’.
It is a good thing that only the week before I stepped out of a Ferrari 812 GTS (see Ed’s Life) a direct competitor and genuine alternative to this car, for it showed just what very different cars the 812 and DBS are. The DBS is the sophisticated, powerful, mile crunching GT, whereas the Ferrari is a full on, no messing, bring it on, ‘go for it’ Supercar. Aston prefer to refer to the DBS as a ‘Super GT’ and I reckon we’d agree with that.
delivering the action
The first time your right foot demands performance the DBS responds, instantly. It’s hold you back in your seat stuff, the power kicking in strong and hard (stage 1) followed by the twin turbos lassoing you into oblivion (stage 2). It’s around that stage that a first-time passenger will laugh (or scream)
Power delivery remains on an unrelenting mission; ferocious, powerful, strong, and accompanied by the song of a deep rasping growl from the stainless-steel twin exhausts. The turbos don’t hang on however, but respond instantly to an inevitable easing of the throttle, allowing the next stage of whatever you choose to do with the progression of the car to take over, whether it be settling into a higher gear or indeed if needs be, changing down for progressive throttle application through slower bends. Then of course you can start the whole’ woosh’ power sensation again, as you progress up through the gears. The automatic gearbox takes care of all that for you if you want it to, but it’s much more fun when you use the paddles and take care of gear-shifting yourself.
You’ll need good brakes of course; no problem there as these latest generation CCB carbon ceramic discs fitted to the DBS are truly outstanding. Not only do they readily tame this 1693 kg hunk at speed, but Aston have optimised the master cylinder and booster ensuring brake feel is beautifully moderated to allow you to integrate precision braking with the high-speed balance and feel of the car on a challenging B-road drive. Get all that right and I guarantee you, you’ll be hooked. This Aston has the B road pace and handling of a finely tuned powerful hot hatch, and that is some compliment taking account of its massive power and girth. The chassis is tuned to enable progressive rear end break away making controlled oversteer totally predictable, yet the magic of it is its dexterity. The car will spin its back wheels in fourth gear in a straight line in the dry if you’re brutal with the throttle when, yet at the same time you can just as easily keep the rear totally off traction and in control in a slalom on a handling circuit. With 713bhp under your belt, that’s quite something.
The Pirelli P Zero tyres on the car need a little bit of heat in them before traction really begins to take effect – particularly if it is wet- over gravelled surfaces; just a gentle standard GT mode is all you need when driving away from cold.
Take my word, if a well driven Aston DBS closes in on you in your rear-view mirror, it’s best to pull over and let it pass as there’s simply no point in messing with it; its prodigious capabilities are well beyond what most of us see as ‘very fast’. The car is just bonkers fast. Yet what makes it really special is that it is just as enjoyable being driven ‘slowly’ but you’ll savour the car in a different way; driven ‘normally’ so to speak, you are entertained by the car’s rock-solid composure, the various tones emitted by its V12 masterpiece and exhaust, and of course by its visual beauty and presence.
The DBS makes the kind of noise that you sit and fondly reflect on in your sitting room in the evening over a relaxing drink after a long drive. Drive the DBS down a crowded High Street at 20 mph and people will literally stop, stare, and admire. They’ll hear it first because the noise is just so intoxicating, then the visual hypnosis sets in and their eyes are tied to your DBS like glue. It’s pure entertainment.
I’m not new to supercars but I didn’t think for a minute that this Aston DBS would be ‘soo’ impressive. Nothing’s perfect of course. Arguably, the steering maybe could be a little bit more engaging, and maybe do with a bit more feel, but Aston are no doubt looking for the right compromise between the expectations of the hard-core keen driver and maybe the less demanding business and long-distance tourer.
There is no question that the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is definitely top drawer. The lucky owner will enjoy thousands of miles of Intercontinental driving in comfort, along with the aural entertainment of this powerful thoroughbred. It is the kind of car that will win new loyalties to the Aston brand. I was excited to be telling you about the Aston DBS before writing this piece, now I love the car even more. I may be in front of a key board right now, but in my imagination, I am behind the wheel of the Aston DBS Superleggera somewhere in Monaco, the sun is shining, and I’m driving it hard, not a care in the World……. just driving.
Words: Kevin Haggarthy