The British have a certain man working on their side to make sure the world stays baddie free. Sure, he is a made-up character by Ian Fleming, but what does that matter? He loves vodka martinis, women, and watches, but most of all, he loves his Aston Martins. If you haven’t guessed his name by now you have been under a rock for quite some time.
James Bond, played by Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig, and a few others, has a certain sophistication that makes him who he is. Bond might not be the fastest, the quickest, or the best, but that’s not why we love him. Aston Martins are the same way. They can be out dueled by a Ferrari and out cornered by a Lamborghini, but we don’t love them any less because of that.
Astons aren’t about breakneck speed or snap your spine cornering. They aren’t about flashy looks or massive rear exhausts, in fact, they are quiet and conservative compared to their Italian counterparts and you know what? We love them for it.
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Messing with near perfection can always be a dangerous move, like going for the two-point conversion and the win, rather than getting the extra point for the tie. Yet, that hasn’t stopped Aston Martin from trying with the new 2011 DB9.
The change wasn’t massive, but that’s the way it should have been. Why change something that was brilliant in the first place? The old DB9 will look good fifty years from now, as will most of the cars in their lineup.
According to Aston Martin’s Director of Design, Marek Reichman, subtlety and fine attention to detail is the key: "The beauty of an Aston Martin comes from harmonious proportions, a ground-hugging stance, taut surfacing and a complete and thorough attention to detail. The DB9 epitomizes these qualities; it is beautiful but subtle – not attention seeking."
Improving this icon wasn’t easy, but Aston made some great changes to keep the car looking fresh yet modern.
The new front bumper is the biggest change on the DB9. The re-shaped lower intake that features a hexagonal mesh should compliment the radiator grille. On top of that, there will be new headlight bezels, capping off a gorgeous nose. The DB9’s profile has also been updated, with what Aston calls, a more prominent “hockey stick” curve ahead of the rear wheels.
Aston has given the new DB9 a standard Adaptive Damping System that will constantly evaluate the best damping condition. This system is similar to what we find on the DBS and the Rapide. The driver controls the system with a button on the dash. Similar to what we find on BMW models, the driver can select the default system, which was designed for ride comfort and a firmer sport mode that tightens the car up.
Under the hood is the old English beauty, unchanged since 2003. The 6.0-liter V12 develops 470 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Compare that to the 458 Italia’s 560 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque and the Aston is a bit, well, slow.
Yet, we shouldn’t compare the two because they are polar opposites. One, is a performance supercar, the other is a road trip grand touring car. What the Aston should really be compared to is another British luxury car, the Bentley Continental GT.
The W12 in the GT develops far more power than the Aston. With two turbochargers, the Bentley cranks out 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. So, the new DB9 is a bit underpowered compared to the competition, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a slacker.
Put your foot to the floor and the Aston will hit 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 190 mph. That 0-60 time is quicker than the Continental GT by 0.2 seconds, but the big Bentley will eventually pull ahead, as it tops out at 197.6 miles per hour, where as the Aston is out of speed at 190.
Attached to the V12 motor is a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed Touchtronic paddle-shift automatic. The shift is smooth and refined, but the manual shifter is a bit big and bulky.
For Dr. Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin’s Chief Executive, the DB9 remains a very special car: "The DB9 is the quintessential sporting grand tourer and offers an unrivalled combination of driver involvement, character, luxury and refinement. This car combines our unique Aston Martin character with an uncompromised design philosophy, craftsmanship and trademark Aston Martin performance ability."
All these updates should give Aston the advantage against Volkswagen owned Bentley, who have yet to update the GT. And, in our opinion, the DB9 is far better looking and better driving than the big Continental.
On the inside, the Aston looks brilliant, but it can be a case of form over function. The center console is a massive upgrade over the poor interior of the old DB7. The beautiful and far simpler aluminum-accented dash helps this car have one of the best interiors in the business. Sitting inside the car is one of the best experiences that any car lover can have. The speedometer is a bit busy with way too many slash marks, but the rest of the cabin in brilliant. Everything is covered in high-quality leather and it’s just, once again, beautiful.
The Bentley is more old school, with wood accents rather than aluminum. That’s not to say it isn’t gorgeous, the GT’s interior is a fantastic place to sit in. The wood is smooth and the leather is of the highest quality. It’s more old world England than modern Canary Wharf. Though it’s a magical place to sit in, the GT suffers from a few minor lapses in build quality and it’s just a bit too Volkswagen and not enough Bentley.
It’s faster to 60 mph if offered in a manual gearbox and looks like a million dollars. The new 2011 Aston Martin DB9 is the best grand touring car to come out in 2010. On sale in July, the DB9 coupe will start at £122,445 while the DB9 Volante will retail for £131,445.