Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Following a decade or more of glacial change, we suddenly can’t keep up with the slew of new Astons. This year alone we’ve already driven the new Vantage, the heavily revised AMR-spec DB11, and now there’s this, the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.
It’s the fastest and most powerful road car Aston has ever built – with a 211mph top speed and 715bhp twin-turbo V12 – and it ups the ante on the DB11, just as the Vanquish did on the DB9 before it. But it’s not called Vanquish this time around, as that’s now allegedly reserved for Aston’s forthcoming, mid-engined Ferrari 488 and McLaren 720S rival.
Instead the DBS name is back; it’s been around since ’67, and was last used on the Vanquish’s predecessor, another amped-up DB9, the one Daniel Craig barrel-rolled in his Casino Royale debut. As for the ‘Superleggera’ tag, Aston says it’s a homage to the lightweight construction methods pioneered by Italian coachbuilder Touring.
Where does the DBS Superleggera fit in?
Atop the lot, though Aston itself has blurred the lines a little with the recent introduction of the AMR-spec DB11, a car never in its product plans. 2017’s Mercedes-engined V8 version of DB11 outshone its bigger V12 bother, what with it being cheaper, more economical and better to drive. So the base V12 is gone, replaced with an Aston Martin Racing-badged model with more power (now 630bhp) and a sharper chassis.
Still, the DBS manages to put space between it and this interloper. Not least thanks to the extra power and torque easily available from the twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12: there’s now 715bhp, and an additional 148lb for a whopping 664lb ft total (which necessitated a new, strengthened eight-speed ZF gearbox).
Power still goes to the rear wheels, and Aston claims 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and 0-100mph in 6.4 seconds. And I remember a time when the McLaren F1’s 3.2 and 6.3 seconds seems untouchable – and yet here we have a big front-engined GT that could breathe down its neck.
A DB11 on steroids…
It does, thanks to a new carbonfibre body. Weight is trimmed by 72kg (though it’s still 1693kg dry, and close to two tonnes with fluids and a driver aboard) but the real impact is in the extra visual menace. From the sculpted, vented clamshell bonnet to the muscular squared-off rear arches, it’s a gorgeous thing to behold.
Where there isn’t carbon, the huge front intake nixes Aston’s trademark grille for a more Zagato-esque nose flanked by inlets either side that add more menace. The side strakes aft of the front wheels are better resolved than on the DB11, and while that car always looks like there’s too much air between wheel and wheelarch, here the inch bigger forged alloys (now 21s) and 5mm ride height drop fill the gap to perfection. Only a little fussiness around the rear exhaust and lights let it down.
More than just extra power and less weight
Those tyres are 265-section at the front, and 305 at the back (up from 255 and 295 respectively) and it’s Pirelli P Zero rubber rather than Bridgestone S007s now. They wrap carbon ceramic discs in place of the DB11’s steel brakes. There’s a new exhaust too, bespoke suspension geometry, while aero tweaks (including a fixed rear spoiler in place of the DB11’s pop-up item) generate more downforce – now 180kg at top speed, the most of any series-production Aston – without any additional drag.
Inside the changes aren’t quite so striking; here the DBS is more obviously a re-trimmed DB11. Though that’s no bad thing, as Aston’s fit and finish keeps getting better, the DBS-specific materials now err towards carbon rather than wood, and all the infotainment electronics work wonderfully. It’s not something we could praise in the past (and the Mercedes-sourced parts are still a novelty) but by the time the company’s DBX SUV turns up in 2019 we’ll be long past mentioning it – and that for Aston will be the real victory.