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Wednesday 19th September 2012


ASTON MARTIN REVIVES DB9

Aston's 'brand-sharpening' exercise continues


Aston Martin has revealed a newly refocused 2013 model year DB9 – and confirmed, as PistonHeads predicted, that the Virage is to stop production “with immediate effect”.

This is Aston Martin having a clear-out. Instead of a dated DB9 and ‘in-betweener’ Virage sitting beneath the similarly dated DBS, buyers now have a revised DB9 and the pretty Vanquish to choose between. The brand is being sharpened rather than stretched thin.

Evolution, not revolution
Evolution, not revolution
There’s good reason Aston Martin calls it ’13MY’ DB9 rather than a new one, though: to look at, it is very much an evolution of the current car. Inside, the changes are even less obvious. It’s beneath the surface that Aston says the major work has taken place. When upgrades include mention of a heavily revised V12 engine that’s positioned differently within the chassis, we’re inclined to believe it.

Visual clout

So, the visuals. If you’re looking at it from the back, you’ll struggle to spot them. The taillights have been clear-lens for a while now, meaning the main upgrade is the rear spoiler, which is extended into a more prominent ‘flip’ to improve the ducktail aero effects.

At the side, the lower section has a crisper light-catcher effect, while the wheels are now 20-inches in diameter. Door mirrors are also more structural (and less like a Ford refuges) in design. It’s subtle, but it does all make the DB9 look more purposeful.

Rear spoiler is more pronounced
Rear spoiler is more pronounced
The key upgrades are at the front, though. The wider grille now gets a five-bar design with ‘chamfered’ design that Aston says creates an aero design similar to that on the One-77. The lower design is also much more contemporary and includes a sharper splitter that eliminates the slightly blunt and kit-car look of the current car.

Those with keen eyes will also spot the bonnet doesn’t only now include zinc vents, but is also an entirely new structure. This is to ensure the car meets the latest Euro pedestrian safety regulations (and thus can remain on sale): Aston’s even patented a new type of collapsible front grille surround to ensure it passes the regs without any form of deployable-on-impact solution.

More power to go and stop

Nothing to see here
Nothing to see here
Mechanically, it has more power, courtesy of a revised AMII V12 benefitting from many Vanquish-inspired upgrades. Now producing 517hp at 6500rpm (up from 470hp) and 457lb ft at 5500rpm (443 at 5000rpm), the new engine has a revised block and a new head that includes dual variable valve timing.

The throttle bodies are bigger, the intake manifold and fuel pump have been revised, and the combustion chambers are now machined. It even now sits lower in the chassis, benefitting the centre of gravity and further helping meet those new pedestrian rules. The same rear-mounted Touchtronic 2 six-speed gearbox remains, with standard LSD.

It gets ‘Gen4’ Adaptive Damping System as standard, with a choice of Normal, Sport and Track modes, and also now come with carbon ceramic discs as standard. The Brembo anchors have 398mm front floating discs and Aston reckons an overall 12.5kg reduction in unsprung mass helps ride and handling plus braking and steering feel.

£10k premium for Volante
£10k premium for Volante
Other changes? They’re there, but you have to look hard, because the interior is the least-changed aspect of all. For the record, there’s a new rotary light switch. Wipers are now auto. It gets full grain leather with a Virage-style leather ‘welt’ edge. Folding door mirrors are standard, a reversing camera is optional. Again though, this is a model year upgrade rather than a new DB9.

Aston focus

Perhaps the biggest improvement is the clearer focus it gives buyers. Instead of the DB9 looking like the poor relation, attention has once again been focused on it – and both identikit alternatives, the Virage and DBS, culled. It’s back to being what Aston calls the ‘hub’ of its GT range. 

In a strange mix of engineering logic and marketing hyperbole, DB9 product manager Andy Haslam summed it up well: “The introduction of this significantly enhanced 13MY car means Aston Martin buyers have a very clear and compelling model line-up from which to choose.

So the numbers continue - for a while
So the numbers continue - for a while
“Taking the best elements of Virage, adding important new upgrades and combining these with the iconic DB9 nomenclature we have created a compelling new Sports GT that sits proudly at the very heart of the Aston Martin sports car range.

“With the exceptional new Vanquish super GT occupying the top of the range, there is now a clear and logical step from DB9.”

Price? From £131,995 for the coupe, an estimated £10k more for the Volante (around £4k more than today, then). It’s available to order now, with deliveries from next month.

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