RE: Aston Martin DB9 GT: Driven

RE: Aston Martin DB9 GT: Driven

Wednesday 19th August 2015

Aston Martin DB9 GT: Driven

The DB9's valedictory salute, and a fairly excellent one at that



The very definition of the gift that keeps giving, the Aston Martin DB9 stands as a pioneer of the 'modern' Gaydon-era Astons built on the Vertical Horizontal engineering methodology. Not platform. They get a bit sniffy when you use that word.

We've been writing about the DB9 on PistonHeads since 2004, a year after the car was launched at the Frankfurt show. There was a big enough update in 2012 for Aston Martin to call it the 'new DB9' as part of a rationalisation of the product portfolio but, essentially, the car has remained the same and at the heart of the model range. Not for long though. The DB11 is an increasingly frequent sight in front of the spy photographers, looking closer to production spec each time. Turbos are coming, the DB9's replacement perhaps fittingly the start of the AMG-Aston era.

No gig would be complete without an encore though and so the DB9 GT aims to send the old stager out in style. As pointed out in our news story the GT did the same for the DB7 when its time came and was an absolute corker. Here's hoping for the same with this run-out megamix...

Cheerio then old chum!
Cheerio then old chum!
Still got it
Credit to the original design too because there aren't many 12-year-old cars that still carry off looking good this late into their careers. Aston's design language has taken a turn for the assertive compared with the restrained elegance of the initial DB9 and a supply deal with Kahn to turn a limited number into its extrovert and coachbuilt 'Vengeance' shows interest in exploring this further.

But the GT is true to the DB9's more elegant foundations and adds just a little garnish in the form of black-painted splitter and diffuser, new 10-spoke wheels, 'revised' front and rear lights (apparently) and - perhaps more significantly - Aston Martin's AMI II control interface. Introduced on the Vanquish, this finally replaces the stylish but desperately fiddly 80s hi-fi style centre console the DB9 has used from the start. Big rotary dials, haptic heating controls and a cleaner look make it both more stylish and easier to use. The nav graphics are still a bit ZX Spectrum but as a whole it does at least feel of the modern era.

Then there's the engine. It's still the familiar AM11 6.0-litre V12 at heart but with 547hp the GT is the most powerful DB9 yet, 40hp more potent than the facelifted model and not far off 100hp up on the original car. In this age of turbo downsizing it remains a standout feature and while the forced induction V8s in rivals like the Bentley Continental GT S and Mercedes S63 Coupe punch harder from lower revs you'll forgive much simply for the character and experience.

Superb steering comes to the fore here
Superb steering comes to the fore here
Sound system
And, let's face it, it's hardly under-endowed. There's 457lb ft of torque to play with, even if you have to wait until 5,500rpm to get it. But the noise it makes doing it is just fabulous. Slide that 'key' into the slot, hold it just a tad longer than you think you ought if you don't want it spat back out and the whirr of the starter before the big V12 catches and fires is pure theatre. In a good way. This is a proper engine, smooth and refined but with just enough of a harsh, mechanical edge to remind you it's a bit different from everything else out there. It's just one of many features of the DB9 that still, after all these years, will put a little involuntary grin on your face each time you fire it up. And, hell, isn't that the kind of thing you want out of an Aston Martin?

The interior is still absolutely gorgeous too. 'Bronze Metallic Contemporary Leather', 'Copper fine thread' and 'Flint' silver seatbelts all sound pretentious on the options sheet and between them add £1,785 to the £140,000 starting price. But the combined effect is just lovely and the style, touch and smell of the GT's cabin is uniquely evocative. It's a lovely place to spend time, basically.

Are the updates enough to make it feel more contemporary on the road though? The long travel throttle pedal and linear power delivery exacerbate the sense that for all the impressive numbers the DB9 is true to its GT role and less angry and explosive than the Vanquish or Vantage. That's fine, and once up to speed it just keeps going and going, the faint gargle taking on a more aggressive tone and the numbers getting serious very quickly.

This old lump still a big part of the appeal
This old lump still a big part of the appeal
Gran Turismo
The GT has Aston's three-stage ADS dampers but, truth be told, isn't what you'd call plush in any of the settings. If you want a more soothing, isolating GT experience you're probably better off with that S-Class Coupe or even a Continental GT. Likewise the steering, which is firmer, sharper and way more communicative than anything in more modern rivals. In case you're in doubt this is a good thing, the hydraulically assisted system's feedback - like the V12 - a reminder of what we're losing in the name of progress. This is old-school, but in a good way.

Not sure the same can be said of the gearbox though, the rest of the Aston range having ditched the six-speed Touchtronic automatic and gone to the snappier and more up to date eight-speeder. The breadth of the power delivery means you're happier holding ratios longer than you would in 'modern' turbocharged car but when you do come to change it's either a traditional slurred auto shift or a languid response to the paddle. The styling, performance and cabin all manage to carry off maturity as something positive and to be savoured; in comparison the transmission just feels old-fashioned.

Overall the clue is in the name; although seriously rapid by any stretch of the imagination the DB9 GT isn't about bare knuckle combat with back roads and race tracks. It's at the sportier end of the GT spectrum for sure, but it's a car for making progress with just the occasional foray into the rortier end of the V12's performance envelope to prick the hairs on your neck when required. And it - still - passes the test of being the kind of car you can't resist turning to look over your shoulder at as you walk away from it. If this is the DB9's swansong it's a fitting one.


ASTON MARTIN DB9 GT
Engine:
5,935cc V12
Transmission: 6-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 547@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 457@5,500rpm
0-62mph:  4.5sec
Top speed: 183mph
Weight: 1,785kg ('without driver')
MPG: 19.8 (Combined)
CO2: 333g/km
Price: £140,000 (£161,135 as tested comprising £3,495 for Scintilla Silver AML Special paint, £995 for 'Bronze Metallic' contemporary leather, £395 for 'Copper' fine thread, £5,495 for Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Audio, £1,495 for 'Piano Black' interior trim pack, £395 for Black pedals, £395 for Flint seatbelts, £3,995 for Carbon Fibre Splitter and Diffuser, £995 for Grey brake calipers, £195 for Black Side Strake Meshes, £995 for Carbon Fibre Tail Lamp Insert, £1,295 for 10-Spoke Gloss Black Diamond Turned Wheels, £995 for Black Window Surround and £295 for Alarm Upgrade)















Photos: Tom Begley, additional photography courtesy of Autocar

Author
Discussion

sidesauce

Original Poster:

718 posts

149 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
I know a lot of people on here will say they preferred the original one but I think this final model looks way better. What a way to go...!

MrTappets

881 posts

122 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
I remember when the Virage came along in 2010 and everyone was completely nonplussed because it just seemed to be a lightly (not even majorly) updated DB9. I guess Aston could have really used this car then to put them slightly ahead of the competition. Must say, though it looks pretty well perfect now, I'm just not sure I could even if I had the money. That depreciation would scare me too much, although I suppose it's about on par with anything in this class. Still, the idea of this with an open-gated six speed and a glass roof really appeals to me!

GTEYE

1,175 posts

141 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
"£995 for Carbon Fibre Tail Lamp Insert"

Wow, that's the clincher. Aston clearly know their market smile

SFO

4,590 posts

114 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
the most elegant and beautiful 2 door coupe on sale smile

interior is stunningly gorgeous

Ozzie Osmond

21,189 posts

177 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
If I was splashing £140k on a new car I think I'd be looking for something more "modern". DB9 is a nice car but now more than 10 years in production.
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HannsG

2,209 posts

65 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
Are the rear seats still unusable?

pSynrg

238 posts

113 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
Well, if Audi & Porsche are going get slated for it then so should Aston Martin.

This barely looks any different.

DB9VolanteDriver

2,175 posts

107 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
HannsG said:
Are the rear seats still unusable?
They didn't redesign the car, so why would you think otherwise?

Axionknight

8,300 posts

66 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
pSynrg said:
Well, if Audi & Porsche are going get slated for it then so should Aston Martin.

This barely looks any different.
I know, fabulous isn't it? cloud9

RobinBanks

14,498 posts

110 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
I think this is the best looking DB9

The car I still really want is the DB7 though

williamp

15,994 posts

204 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
Heres the Audi bit you forgot to add. Cant have a P'head review without it..


Can the DB9 GT be recommended over Audi's mighty 160bhp 2 litre engine? Impossible. The German would walk it in performance terms - it's almost 47mpg better

P-Jay

8,600 posts

122 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
That looks amazing, but if my numbers came in, I'd be worried it'll look very old hat the moment the DB11 arrives.

sparks_E39

9,841 posts

144 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
That is a beautiful car.

markcoznottz

4,475 posts

155 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
Not quite as pretty as the DBS, that car is stunning in the flesh, and has none of the slightly boring nature of the cooking models. While we are on the subject, why has Aston never pushed for its own 'amg' line?, a proper sporting Aston, like a gt3, but not quite as full on?.

MG CHRIS

6,386 posts

98 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
Is that road around the ellan valley in mid wales looks very much like one of the sections of roads up there.

smilo996

1,399 posts

101 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
Well compared to the 911 which is 50 years old and getting uglier, the DB9 is just a teenager and getting better looking with each year.

Good to see it going out with that engine and those tweeks.

Such a shame that engine is being retired it looks and sounds amazing and by the sound of it is perfectly capable of serious speed for those cars it is inserted into in the Aston Range.


RoverP6B

3,669 posts

59 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
The V12 will be around for a couple of years yet. I take it there's no manual option now?

I don't like the "new" headlights on the DB9, which were introduced when the Rapide arrived several years ago. The bigger units on the early DB9s were nicer, as was the continuation of the grille below the bumper. I'd just buy an early manual DB9 and subject it to some engine tweaks to get more power out of it, maybe some better springs and dampers, and ask AM if they'd kindly upgrade the satnav system for me - although that wouldn't bother me over-much.

JackP1

1,233 posts

93 months

Wednesday 19th August 2015
quotequote all
I wonder where they got the styling from....





Oh yeah, the Virage. The car the brought out for 6 months, killed it off, brought the Vanquish out and now reared its head again.

jcl

198 posts

174 months

Thursday 20th August 2015
quotequote all
IMO the only car on sale that reviewing is pointless.

It's so beautiful it could drive like a Corolla and it wouldn't matter.

RoverP6B

3,669 posts

59 months

Thursday 20th August 2015
quotequote all
The Virage was supposed to be a halfway house between the DB9 and DBS. The Vanquish is the far side of the DBS from the Virage. In truth, it was a micro-niche too far, and recalled memories of possibly the worst Aston Martin.