2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8 Steals Its Sibling’s Show – Forbes
It’s acceptable that I prefer the V8-powered DB11 over its V12-powered sibling, reassures the team at Aston Martin. It may sound a bit absurd that I am willing to give up nearly 100 horsepower and a silky-smooth twelve-cylinder engine, but from my current perspective – effortlessly traveling at triple-digit speeds down a desolate highway near Barcelona – it’s a sacrifice that I would make without hesitation.
Courtesy of the celebrated British automaker, I’m on the West Coast of Spain to spend some time with its all-new 2018 DB11 V8 model — the follow-up act to the flagship DB11 V12 that debuted less than a year ago. While the century-old vehicle manufacturer used to struggle to bring a new vehicle to the marketplace in a timely manner, all that has changed thanks to Andy Palmer, the company’s CEO. Under Palmer’s enthusiastic guidance, Aston Martin is being led through a rapid-fire product launch cycle that is all part of its Second Century Plan. In a nutshell, the company will introduce seven new products — there’s even a crossover, dubbed the DBX model — that should satisfy the entire spectrum of luxury vehicles. With a fresh product lineup, Aston Martin will be in a positon to rival Bentley and Ferrari, says Aston’s leader. Palmer’s frankness and passion is as contagious as his determination — he’s the proper gentleman for the job.
The DB11, which is technically the successor to the DB9, has been a resounding success. The company has delivered more than 2,500 units to date (the $230,000 vehicle is currently sold out) and the new V8 model will supplement its hot-selling sibling with a sub-$200,000 base price.
Differentiating the V8 from its V12 sibling isn’t very challenging from the front. Most obvious to the casual passer-by is the unique hood, which does away with the two distinguishing vents in middle (they were deemed unnecessary as the V8 engine channels air differently within the engine bay). The signature front grill is dark black (on the V12, the anodized black finish is shaved away to expose the bright aluminum) as are the headlamp bezels, and the wheels have a unique finish. While most everyone will notice those clues, few will be able to tell that the front brake calipers feature marginally smaller pistons, resized to compensate for the slightly lighter curb weight.
Depress the flush door handles and drop inside the passenger cabin for a real challenge — from the driver’s seat, the V8 is virtually identical to the V12. Not to worry, both boast purely first-class accommodations all around. Fine leather, premium metals, and top-notch trims cover every square inch. I’m spellbound by the soft suede on the inside of the door pulls (I notice it every single time), and the patterned stitching on the roof is mesmerizing. Customers are offered the same option packages on both vehicles. And, for those who want to push the boundary of custom design, Aston Martin offers its Q bespoke treatment – simply open your imagination (and your checkbook).
Aston Martin has its own V8 engine, but that naturally aspirated 4.3-liter was showing its age. In a wise move, the automaker borrowed a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 from Mercedes-AMG, the Brit’s new technical partner. Of course, the British engineers took the liberty to tailor the V8 for its new role – it boasts a bespoke wet sump lubrication system (necessary to package it low in the engine compartment), new intake, new engine mounts, and a new exhaust. Mated to a specially calibrated ZF 8-speed transaxle (Aston passed on the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed) the engine, gearbox, and stability control are all calibrated for the new pairing.
And it’s a wondrous marriage.
The German engine under the hood of the DB11 is rated at 503 horsepower and 513 pound-feet of torque, which is bullish on anyone’s scale. As expected, the V8 is lighter than the V12 so the vehicle’s mass drops by 253 pounds (the curb weight of the all-aluminum coupe is now below 3,900 pounds). The center of gravity has also changed from 51:49 (Front/Rear in the V12) to a more favorable 49:51. There isn’t a bit of bad news here.