The DB11 cost twice as much. Is it worth it?

The fact that BMW revived the 8 Series nameplate after almost two decades is definitely one of the headlines of 2018. But equally important is the fact that the Germans announced two brand-new versions of this car: there’s an M8 just around the corner, and BMW just introduced the 8 Series Convertible.

The first drop-top version of the 8 Series in history, the Convertible, is here to tackle the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet. However, the topless German is also an option against more expensive grand tourer, like the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. Let’s find out how it compares to the notably more expensive British convertible in the comparison below.

Exterior

If there’s one thing these cars have in common, It’s that both look like proper grand touring convertibles. Also, both lose their sports car appeal along with the metal roof. And I’m not saying it in a bad way. However, once you look at the details, the 8 Series and the DB11 become two different animals.

Front

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While the 8 Series looks like a classic grand tourer, the DB11 stands out as a race-inspired cabriolet

Designed as a massive departure from the 6 Series and also to stand out among other Bimmers, the 8 Series looks powerful and somewhat massive up front. That’s because the kidney grille is wider than on any other BMW launched up until now. The fascia itself is also somewhat thin, including the headlamps, while the bumper stands tall from one corner to the other.

The DB11, on the other hand, has a decidedly British vibe to it. Although it sports a new design language, it still benefits from the familiar cues of its predecessor, the iconic DB9. The trapezoidal grille with the flattened corners and the rather unusual bumper layout with one wide opening and a clean design give it a unique look. The swept-back headlamps and the race-inspired, wavy engine hood also help here.

Side

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Overall, the 8 Series is more elegant than sporty here

There are similar difference onto the sides too. Because the bumper and the front fenders are rather tall, the entire nose seems massive, even when seen front the sides. The beltline descend a bit at the bottom of the A-pillar, but it moves slightly higher toward the rear, to the point where the trunk is notably higher than the front hood. This is an usual design for modern cars, but it makes the 8 Series profile somewhat featureless.

Sure, the big dent that grows from the front fender in the lower panels add a bit of character, but overall, the 8 Series is more elegant than sporty here.

The beltline makes the DB11 look sleeker and reminds of classic Aston Martins from the 1960s

The story is completely different with the DB11. With the body panels not so tall, the front fenders rise only a couple of inches above the wheels. The nose seems lower and the whole front end looks more aerodynamic. The beltline also seems more organic. It descends slightly as it moves across the doors and then it makes a more abrupt hike over the rear wheel arches, only to descend again toward the taillights. This feature alone makes the DB11 look sleeker and reminds of classic Aston Martins from the 1960s.

The carving just above the side skirts is intriguing too and makes it seem as if Aston Martin wanted to add a side-exiting exhaust pipe at some point. It also gives it a race-inspired look, as does the big diffuser that replaces most of the plastic in the bumper.

The only thing I like more about the Bimmer here is the way the roof blends in with the design. When the top is in place, the 8 Series looks like a coupe, mostly because the roof was modeled to mimic the metal cover of its sibling. The DB11, on the other hand, has a simpler soft-top that deletes the aggressiveness of the coupe.

Rear

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Aston Martin ditched the traditional taillights in favor of very thin light bars

The rear of the 8 Series looks awfully familiar, despite BMW adding slimmer taillights on this model. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but I think this flagship two-door would have deserved a more unique butt. Despite the taillights and the big license plate recess in the upper bumper, the 8 Series still has the classic configuration with the tall bumper and integrated, rectangular exhaust pipes. There’s no actual diffuser either, which pushes the car farther away from the sporty status of its rival.

Aston Martin took a different approach with the DB11, even when compared to the DB9 or other vehicles in the lineup. For starters, the British firm ditched the traditional taillights in favor of very thin light bars. The outer elements are shaped like the letter "C," but the lower stripes is longer and extends into the trunk lid. To simplify, it’s like Aston Martin designed proper taillights but eventually decided to use only the frame. And the effect is really cool.

Down below, Aston Martin abandon the usual plastic bumper for a diffuser like element that extends all the way up into the fascia. Although not overly aggressive, the piece is finished in gloss black and its size and shape mimics the diffuser seen on Aston Martin race cars. An actual diffuser sits in the lower center section, flanked by round exhaust pipes. Far from classy, but decidedly British and... pleasantly aggressive?

Exterior Dimensions

BMW 8 Series Convertible Aston Martin DB11 Volante
Length inches 191.2 186.57
Width inches 74.9 76.37
Height inches 53.0 50.35
Wheelbase inches 111.1 110.43

Interior

2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible Interior
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Both cars have sporty-looking, yet clean interiors

Not surprisingly, both cars have sporty-looking, yet clean interiors. And they’re very similar as far as design goes too, with similar arrangements on the center stack and even in the instrument cluster. But there are plenty of different features to talk about too.

BMW’s interior designs were anything but wild until now, and the 8 Series is no exception from this rule. Actually, the Germans simplified the design even more for this car. Thanks to the massive infotainment display and the new-generation, fully digital instrument cluster, there are less physical controls on the center stack and the center console.

The center stack itself has a race-inspired design. Not only it becomes wider toward the top, but it’s heavily angled design separates the driver and front passenger areas. What’s more, it’s oriented toward the driver, making it easier to access the infotainment system and operate the A/C and the numerous apps and features.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante Interior
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When it comes to materials, both vehicles are heavily oriented toward the luxury market

Design-wise, the DB11 follows along the same lines. There’s a wide center console separating the two front seats and a clean dashboard that makes the cabin seem spacious. The digital instrument cluster keeps information legible. However, the center stack isn’t angled toward the driver, which is a bit disappointing. This is because Aston Martin probably wanted to keep the interior as close as possible to a classic grand tourer, but it might be proof that the Brits aren’t thinking out of the box as much as they should.

When it comes to materials, both vehicles are heavily oriented toward the luxury market. Both have sports seats with integrated headrests and leather as standard. The 8 Series will treat you to fine Merino leather, while the DB11’s cabin is equally nice thanks to acres of leather and Alcantara. Aston Martin seems to offer more upholstery options though and you have access to virtually limitless combinations if you’re willing to spend big.

As far as tech goes, both will satisfy your need for the latest features and apps. However, the Bimmer wins when it comes to connectivity thanks to its bigger infotainment display. While the DB11’s measures eight inches, the 8 Series comes with a 10.25-inch screen. Sure, it’s not a massive difference, but it simply looks better overall.

Convertible-Only Features

2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible Exterior
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BMW's soft-top takes only 15 seconds to fold or unfold

Modern convertibles are usually identical to their coupe counterparts and this stands true for both the 8 Series and the DB11. There are no extra features and the cabriolets don’t lack any of the items found in the coupe.

Except for the roof of course. Both vehicles have retractable soft-tops instead of integrated metal roofs, which provides access to infinite headroom and makes driving in warm weather much more enjoyable.

The 8 Series comes with a lightweight soft-top design. This is extremely important for a car with sporty character. Convertibles usually need extra reinforcing, which increases curb weight, so keeping the roof as light as possible prevents the drop-top from being significantly heavier than the coupe.

2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible Exterior
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You need to travel at no more than 31 mph to be able to open and close the roof on the move

The top can be opened and closed automatically at the push of button. It takes only 15 seconds to fold or unfold, but you need to travel at speed of up to 31 mph to activate it while on the go. The roof was designed using the latest acoustic and insulation materials so you won’t miss the lack of a metal top when the cockpit is covered.

Similarly, Aston Martin designed a brand-new fabric roof with careful attention to isolation and insulation. Made from eight different layers of fabric, it protects you from extreme weather and wind noise. Folding and unfolding time is similar to the 8 Series. It takes 14 seconds to lower the roof into the trunk and 16 to put it back up. You can do it by pushing a button on the center stack or using the key fob before you enter the car. Just like in the 8 Series, you need to travel at no more than 31 mph to be able to open and close the roof on the move.

Drivetrain and Performance

2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible Interior
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BMW's twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8 cranks out 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque

As of this writing, you can order the 8 Series Convertible with two engines. However, only one is available in the United States. If you live on this side of the pond, you can only get the M850i version for the time being. This drop-top comes with a new development of the familiar twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8 engine.

Fitted with a new aluminum-alloy block, fully variable valve control, double-Vanos variable camshaft timing, larger twin-scroll turbochargers, and intake ports optimized for higher flow, the mill cranks out 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque and pushes the drop-top from 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. Top speed is limited to the familiar 155-mph mark. It mates to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission with a Launch Control function and standard all-wheel drive.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 High Resolution Exterior
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Newly developed for the DB11, the 5.2-liter V-12 cranks out a solid 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque

If you’re in Europe, you have access to the diesel-powered 840d model. Shared with the 7 Series, the 3.0-liter inline-six oil burner generates 316 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of twist. This car is obviously slower to 62 mph, needing 5.2 seconds to hit the benchmark, but offers better fuel economy at 46.3 mpg (versus 28.3 mpg for the V-8 model). xDrive all-wheel drive is optional in this case.

You get two engine options from Aston Martin as well. First up, the British firm borrowed the twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 from Mercedes-AMG. Powering the base version of the DB11 Volante, it delivers 503 horsepower and 513 pound-feet of torque. That’s 20 horsepower and 40 pound-feet below the M850i xDrive. Not surprisingly, it’s a bit slower too, needing 4.1 second to reach 62 mph from a standing start.

2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante Exterior
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If performance is what you're interested in, the Bimmer is the better option in terms of off-the-line sprints and torque

Aston Martin doesn’t offer a diesel — it never had one anyway — but it offers a more powerful option in the form of a twin-turbo, 5.2-liter V-12. Newly developed for the DB11, this powerplant cranks out a solid 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. It delivers more oomph than BMW’s V-8, but it still lags behind in the torque department. This means it’s slower too, hitting 62 mph in around four seconds. But while none of the DB11’s options is quicker than the M850i xDrive, the Aston Martin offers superior top speed, with both models going past the 180-mph mark.

So if performance is what you’re interested in, the Bimmer is the better option in terms of off-the-line sprints and torque. At least one of gasoline engine is underway, so you get more diversity, including a diesel. The all-wheel-drive system also comes in handy during the cold season. Of course, it’s also about whether you want an all-wheel-drive grand tourer with enhanced stability or a wilder GT with race-inspired behavior.

Drivetrain specifications

2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible Aston Martin DB11 Volante
Engine Turbo 4.4-liter V-8 5.2-litre twin-turbo V-12
Engine power 523 HP @ 5,500 - 6,000 RPM 600 HP @ 6,500 RPM
Engine torque 553 LB-FT @ 1,800-4,600 RPM 516 LB-FT @ 1,500-5,000 RPM
0-60 mph seconds 3.8 4.1
Top speed mph 155 196

Pricing

2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible Exterior
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U.S. pricing for the M850i is not yet available, but it’s expected to retail from around $120,000. In the United Kingdom, the 840d starts from £83,270, while the M850i should come in at around £108,000.

The Bimmer seem rather affordable compared to the DB11 Volante, which retails from a whopping $216,495 here in the U.S. In the U.K., Aston Martin is asking £159,900 for the base model.

Based on pricing only, there can be only one winner here: the BMW 8 Series.

Final Thoughts

2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante Wallpaper quality Exterior
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This is a tough one for many reasons. The biggest dispute here is that these cars compete in different segments as far as pricing goes. While the 8 Series runs at the top of the premium market, the DB11 Volante goes beyond that, in a territory where we can find cars from McLaren, Ferrari, and Lamborghini.

So why am I comparing them? Well, for starters, it goes to show that you don’t have to pay in excess of $200,000 to get solid performance. Although it doesn’t have a V-12 option, the 8 Series is quicker than any configuration of the DB11 when selected in the V-8-powered M850i trim.

Sure, it’s not as fancy as the DB11 on the inside and its exterior is nowhere near as sporty, but it wins when it comes to torque and performance, and it also has the advantage of an all-wheel-drive system. It’s not necessarily the better car overall, but it does a few things better for a much smaller price.

Does this mean that the DB11 Volante isn’t worth the extra premium? No way! Aston Martin’s drop-top is as cool as they get and definitely stands out when compared to the BMW 8 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. The DB11 is the more emotional choice and this is exactly why Aston Martin is asking way more for it.

Further reading

2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible.

2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible vs 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante Wallpaper quality Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante.

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