I recently had the chance to drive the all-new 2017 Aston Martin DB11, which is so new that you can’t even buy it yet. More importantly, Aston Martin thinks the DB11 is so much better than its predecessor, the DB9, that they’ve skipped a number. And so, you’re probably wondering, what did I think?
I thought it was pretty cool.
Here’s how this all came about. Last week, I got an email from the sales manager at Aston Martin Summit in northern New Jersey, asking if I wanted to film something with their DB11. This is like asking a bear if it would like to rifle through an empty campsite containing bulk-purchased Kit-Kat bars. I drove up there on Friday, but I got a flat tire about halfway into the journey, so I drove back up on Saturday and spent the entire day with the DB11 — driving it, examining it and filming its quirks and unusual features in weather so cold I think I could’ve stuck my tongue to it like that kid in “A Christmas Story.”
In the end, here’s the conclusion I came to: This thing is a massive step forward for Aston Martin. See the 2017 Aston Martin DB11 models for sale near you
I’ll start on the outside. In the past, many people have accused Aston Martin’s cars of looking identical because, well, Aston Martin’s cars looked identical. The DB11 finally breaks the trend with a striking new design that looks undeniably more modern than every other current Aston Martin. While I was filming my video behind the dealership, several people walked up in awe, asking “Is this the DB11?” and shuffling over to check it out, as if they were the bear and the DB11 was the Kit-Kat bars. It’s gorgeous. It’s breathtaking. There’s very little debate about this.
Here’s something you might not have realized: The interior is just as impressive as the exterior. Interior quality has improved dramatically since the days of my V8 Vantage, to the point where it uses the softest, plushest leather on virtually every possible surface, the highest-quality materials and a sound system with speakers that automatically rise up from the dashboard when you turn on the stereo. I’m serious.
Another thing you’ll notice about the interior: There are many bits from Mercedes-Benz. Owing to a recent cooperative agreement between Aston and Mercedes, the DB11 borrows several interior items from the German brand, including the entire infotainment system and Mercedes’ distinctive infotainment-system controller. While the majority of the interior is noticeably Aston Martin, there are several places where it’s very Mercedes instead. And soon, there will be another place: While the DB11 currently uses Aston’s own 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12, which makes 600 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, a turbocharged V8 supplied by Mercedes-Benz is on the way.
Not that you’d want it. Because the DB11’s V12 is wildly awesome.
Here’s the thing about Aston Martin: You kind of think of its cars as touring vehicles, designed for people who prioritize beautiful styling and a richly appointed cabin above all else. And the DB11 will certainly satisfy that type of buyer.
But here’s the thing about the DB11: It makes 600 hp, it does 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds, and its engine note is so vicious that it constantly reminds you it’s the kind of car that can make passengers scream in fear — while sitting on some of the softest leather seats in the entire automotive industry.
In my mind, the Aston Martin DB11 is the finest example yet of the car that can be both an elegant around-town cruiser or a back-road thrill ride, depending on the experience you want. Shift into GT mode, and the elegance is there, with softer suspension, a subdued exhaust note and that richly appointed cabin. The DB11 even has automatic start/stop to save fuel. But if you put it in Sport+ mode, the DB11 comes alive far more aggressively than any Aston Martin before it, with explosive acceleration, tremendously well-balanced handling and direct, satisfying steering. A lot of cars claim to have a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, offering both back-road driving pleasure and luxury cruising potential, but I’ve never quite met one that manages to take both items so far to the extreme.
But then again, the DB11 had better be the best of its breed. Pricing starts around $215,000 with shipping, and the model I drove was just a hair over $254,000 — far more expensive than rivals like the Maserati GranTurismo, the Mercedes-AMG GT and the BMW M6. Then again, it’s also better than those cars: It’s faster, it’s more exciting, it’s better looking, and it has a more beautiful interior.
You also can’t count out another advantage this car has over its rivals: the highly respected Aston Martin brand name. Which, with the DB11, has now officially entered the modern era. Find a 2017 Aston Martin DB11 for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.