Aston Martin has just unleashed the latest automotive beast in its much talked about “Second Century” plan, which hinges on releasing seven new models every seven years – an ongoing cycle of rejuvenation designed to keep the 105-year-old marque relevant well into the next millennium.
With the DB11 and the new Vantage already on the streets, autumn will see the first deliveries of Aston’s Vanquish replacement. The new DBS Superleggera (from £225,000) was recently made available for a first drive, revealing itself as a standout car in what is becoming an increasingly competitive segment.
Described by Aston as a Super GT, it’s the flagship of the range, designed to combine continent-crossing ability with adrenaline-pumping sports car performance. And it achieves its goal admirably, not least thanks to a V12, twin-turbocharged engine that produces a heady, Ferrari-taunting 715bhp and gives the car a top speed of 211mph.
Both of those statistics are irrelevant on public roads – but one big number that really does enable the DBS to shine is the torque figure (pulling power) produced by the mighty motor between 1,800rpm and 5,000rpm. The maximum of 664lbs-ft is available from 1,800rpm, making the car superbly tractable at low speeds in high gears, ensuring truly effortless overtaking. Above all, it provides a thrilling shove in the back when driving for enjoyment rather than expediency.
Aston’s genius engineering boss Matt Becker says the idea was to produce an ultra-high-performance car that “didn’t terrify people”. While its performance will certainly have any unsuspecting passengers squirming in their seats, the car is remarkably forgiving to drive, especially in the most relaxed of its three dynamic modes (GT). This is followed by the “Sport” and the angry “Sport+” mode that induces a quicker throttle response, freer revving and some devilish music from the new quad-pipe exhaust – with suspension characteristics being independently switchable in all three modes to provide a more supple “touring” ride or tauter, race-car-like handling with greater steering feel.
Those familiar with the DB11 interior will notice more than a few similarities inside the DBS, but the bodywork is all the new car’s own. It’s a “brute in a suit”, says chief creative officer Marek Reichman. By anyone’s measure, it’s a decidedly well-cut suit that abounds with lightweight carbon and aluminium, hewn into an aerodynamic shape that gives the car its ground-hugging 180kg of downforce. Along with a set of bespoke Pirelli tyres, this contributes to a level of handling that belies its 1.6-tonne weight.
Despite all the space-age materials, that latter figure is somewhat at odds with the use of coachbuilder Touring of Milan’s superleggera (super light) badging found on the bonnet – last seen on an Aston 47 years ago when production of the 1.4-tonne DB6 came to an end.