Sunday 18th April 2004


ASTON MARTIN DB9

Ian Kuah attended the launch of the DB9 and gives PH an in depth account of the new GT

The Aston Martin DB7 was one of the most beautiful cars ever and that set the bar very high for the DB9 that now inherits its crown. A 21st Century interpretation of the DB7 theme, the newcomer looks a bit tougher, a bit more purposeful, but draws heavily on the marque's lineage of impeccable class and breeding. 

A car with enough eye appeal to satisfy those with a long time DB7 love affair has to be special, seamlessly combining elegant lines and the poise of a ballerina with a purposeful stance and real gravitas. Mixing these seemingly disparate qualities was a tough task, but design chief, Henrik Fisker and his team have carried it off with aplomb. The result is a design that works in 3D and from every angle - territory way beyond the superficial styling that so many contemporary sportscars allude to.

And yet when you speak to Fisker, you realise that the DB9ís proportions are classical. The design themes - the long pointed nose, curved waistline and raised haunches, the raked roofline and the proportion of roof to body and the pinched-in waist, most apparent in plan view. All of these are symbolic as traditional sportscar visual projections of power.

The view from directly astern is also significant as an Aston Martin motif. The wide rear haunches of the car create a muscular stance further emphasised by the rear window whose shape runs counter to that of most cars on the road in being distinctly tapered from top to bottom.  

 
 
As in architecture and other noble design disciplines, rules like the Golden Mean of proportions have been adhered to, but the details and look unique to this car show that it is still possible to be original and distinctive. The 0.34 drag coefficient is not remarkable, and Fisker openly admits that aesthetics and unerring stability at high speed took priority over a low drag factor in the DB9ís aerodynamic development.

The Aston Martin DNA and Fiskerís interpretation of the classical rules have made the difference. Importantly, its design works on every level whether you are an informed enthusiast or a non-car person. Either will acknowledge the inherent beauty in the shape at first glance, but when the academically inclined stand back and analyse, every element stacks up according to the rules. It proves the point that real design should work both subjectively and objectively.

A lot of thought has also gone into the details, although the fact that a much larger budget than was ever available for the DB7 helped. Just as well, for Aston Martin customers are a sophisticated bunch and expect to be more than just satisfied. They need to be delighted.

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