RE: Aston Martin DB11 V8: Driven

RE: Aston Martin DB11 V8: Driven

Wednesday 27th September 2017

Aston Martin DB11 V8: Driven

First AMG-engined Aston Martin is here and it's a cracker



Given an Aston Martin is very much a car bought with the heart rather than the head, the emotional associations with the brand are absolutely vital to the success of the product. So, whatever practical or pragmatic sense there may be in using Mercedes engines, the threat to the way we feel about the cars is very real.

Nothing tweaked on the outside - jolly good!
Nothing tweaked on the outside - jolly good!
Daimler electrical architecture - manifested as Mercedes nav and switchgear - is already present in the DB11. And a big improvement over what was there before, though identifying whose parts bin the column stalks come from may admittedly be of more interest to motoring journalists than actual customers. The engine though? Given it's at the very heart of the car's character it matters rather more.

Which explains the tactful distance maintained by both parties. Talk to AMG and they'll express polite interest in the Aston Martin deal. But when it comes down to it they'll point out in this instance they are, bluntly, a supplier. Build the engines, crate them up, send them off.

And when they unpack them at Gaydon? There's no attempt to pretend it's anything other than a bought-in power unit. But also clear statements about what they've done to make it their own, up to and including a new intake system, custom Bosch ECU and programming, a new sump to match the crank centreline of the V12 and an exhaust system tuned to make it sound less Teutonic. Given the same package will underpin the pending Vantage replacement there's rather a lot at stake.

Front-hinged bonnets are just cooler, aren't they?
Front-hinged bonnets are just cooler, aren't they?
The good news arrives with the first press of the starter button, the gargling growl familiar to anyone with recent Aston Martin experience. This is entirely deliberate, a chat with project manager Paul Barratt and chassis guru Matt Becker revealing they wanted less AMG bass and more sophisticated mid- and high-range. It's always there too, Barratt insisting there's no piped in noise via symposer or speakers, but admitting they did drill a few extra holes in the boot cladding to make sure the sound comes through loud and clear.

The figures are interesting too. 510hp is nearly 100hp less than the Aston-built 5.2-litre V12 in the existing DB11, but torque is much more evenly matched, the V8 at 498lb ft compared with 516lb ft in the V12. There's only a tenth in it to 62mph, the senior car stretching its legs at the upper end to record 200mph against the V8's 187mph. Inevitably, there's more interest in what goes on between those numbers, informed by the fact that nearly all of the 115kg saved over the V12 comes from the engine, switching the weight distribution from 51:49 front to back in the existing car to the other way round. As before - and distinct from the Mercedes applications - the engine drives the rear wheels via a transaxle-mounted eight-speed automatic.

New weight balance pays dividends here
New weight balance pays dividends here
Eyes doing spirals from too many numbers? Becker's view on the subjective stuff is potentially more interesting. It's at a different power and price point but we've recently enjoyed what chopping 50-odd kilos off the front of the F-Type did to the handling. Twice that off the nose of the DB11 has given Becker opportunity to dial in a slightly sportier feel. The weight saving, paired with subtle changes to the steering weight, and tuning of bushings and suspension arms, has resulted in faster response and an improved sense of agility. The intention is clear - the 4.0-litre engine is important for markets that tax larger motors, but this is also a chance to create a DB11 variant with a character of its own.

You never escape that you're in a big car, something not helped by the lofty dash and slot-like view through the windscreen. The Becker touch in the way the car has been set up reaps immediate rewards though, his Lotus-honed instincts shining through even in something weighing twice as much as the Elises on which he perfected his craft. There may be a lot of weight, but it's nearly all between the axles which, like the V12, makes turn-in response utterly instinctive and stance steadfastly neutral on a balanced throttle. Just that in this instance it feels rather more alert and eager to respond, the relationship between roll and steering angle perfectly balanced to make joined-up sequences of corners flow seamlessly.

Seriously, who is doing interior specs right now?
Seriously, who is doing interior specs right now?
Although the torque numbers are close on paper, the smaller engine is getting a proportionally larger amount of its thrust through forced induction. So, where the 5.2 feels like the old V12 with a bit more mid-range, the V8 has a definite turbocharged whoosh in its power delivery and can be a little tricky to modulate on part-throttle. No such complaints when you're properly on it though, the power of this AMG engine meaning you're in no way short changed in terms of performance. And it relishes being revved out too. Sure, it's more urgent and less majestic than the V12, but point-to-point there isn't much in it.

You keep coming back to the benefits of that centred weight distribution too. Whereas the Bentley Continental GT and AMG versions of the S-Class can also do the fast sporting coupe thing, they both feel nose heavy and less agile. The balance and the mechanical limited-slip differential give the DB11 a pleasingly old-school feel too, the fact the mass is contained meaning Aston can keep a fairly loose grip on the electronic reins and let the car move around a little, even with everything on. On unseasonably wet and slippery Spanish roads it's a car to be respected, requiring meaningful corrections if you're clumsy on the throttle and wake the turbos at the wrong time. That's appropriate for an Aston Martin though - while it's no TVR, it's a car demanding of an engaged driver who knows what they're doing. Against the all-wheel drive of the Bentley and the roll-cancelling trickery of the Mercedes it's a pleasingly simple formula though, this level of feedback in a car of such size and weight an impressive and refreshing achievement.

Concerned about using a turbo AMG V8? Don't be!
Concerned about using a turbo AMG V8? Don't be!
There is a mid-way ESP setting, but it's sufficiently buried in the menus, and the throttle balanced adjustability is accessible enough with everything on that you'd need to be determined to hunt it out. As it is, you're left with GT, Sport and Sport Plus modes for engine and gearbox, with dampers independently following the same progression via a separate button - and increasing weight and response to the wheel in the process. Sport and above also lets you run the gears out to the limiter in the manual mode, the automatic responding fast enough to the paddles that you wonder why the S-Class Coupe persists with its hybrid auto and lock-up clutch combination. Nor does it feel significantly slower than the dual-clutch in the GT, the gearbox being Aston Martin's key differentiator when compared with the AMG applications of this powertrain. And probably the best all-round compromise.

V8 or V12 then? The smaller-engined DB11 is no second best in terms of on-road performance and proves there is space for a slightly more assertive character in the senior Aston Martin. Though saying that, if you've got the choice, the V12 is the more satisfying and appropriate option for this particular car. What this installation does confirm, however, is that the arrival of AMG V8s in Aston Martin engine bays is nothing to be afraid of. As a dry run for the critical Vantage replacement it is, indeed, a teasing appetiser. And, let's face it, if you're going to buy your V8 in from another manufacturer, it may as well be AMG.


ASTON MARTIN DB11 V8
Engine
: 3,982cc V8, turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 510@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 498@2,000-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 4.0sec
Top speed: 187mph
Weight: 1,760kg
MPG: 28.5*
CO2: 230g/km*
Price: from £144,900

(*provisional figures)

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

sidesauce

Original Poster:

758 posts

151 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
So so tempting...

I'm waiting for Speedraser to come along and say 'it's not a proper Aston Martin as it's not an Aston Martin engine' but frankly I don't, nor I suspect many others will, care.

Only thing is, what of the forthcoming V8 Vantage? Unless it's significantly cheaper I think I'd prefer the DB11 if only for the added practicality of the 2 rear seats!

NJJ

85 posts

13 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
The next Vantage is shaping up to be a cracker then, especially if the DB10 looks are retained. Didn't like the DB11 styling initially, but in the right colour combo with the darkened rear lights it looks and feels very special.


Ekona

1,537 posts

135 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
What is wrong with AM and choosing colour combos for the DB11 press cars?! The V12 was bad enough, but the V8 above is vile.

smilo996

1,419 posts

103 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
All getting very interesting at Aston Towers.

The Vantage will have the same engine but will they turn up the hair driers and pop the V12 in.

What of AMG. They make one of the engines but that currently is one of four(?).
It cannot not be that difficult to knock four cylinders off the V12 which is also a twin turbo unit.
The new tech centre at Red Bull will include McLaren and Cosworth with their LMP1 engine but not Ricardo, the maker of McLaren's road engines(?).
or perhaps Merc will dump Williams and muscle Merc engines in under the guise of AMG/Aston into the Red Bull.
Perhaps this will affect Aston's future relationship with AMG, signed under the last regime.
Aston is now building down the road from Ford/Jag engine plant. If it stays open why would they continue to produce in Germany.

Aston sales are really strong. Not great in white but the DB11looks good in the flesh.

Vantage might be Db10ish.

Interesting times.

Raman Kandola

218 posts

56 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
Ekona said:
What is wrong with AM and choosing colour combos for the DB11 press cars?! The V12 was bad enough, but the V8 above is vile.
Agreed, that is an "interesting" choice of interior colour

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leakymanifold

26 posts

19 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
I quite like the interior, its quite fun and different to the usual black....getmecoat

LewisR

664 posts

148 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
sidesauce said:
So so tempting...

I'm waiting for Speedraser to come along and say 'it's not a proper Aston Martin as it's not an Aston Martin engine' but frankly I don't, nor I suspect many others will, care.

Only thing is, what of the forthcoming V8 Vantage? Unless it's significantly cheaper I think I'd prefer the DB11 if only for the added practicality of the 2 rear seats!
Aston Martins haven't had Aston Martin engines since the V8 stopped in 2000.
The DB7 6 & 12 cyl. engines were from Jaguar and Ford respectively.

Krikkit

12,984 posts

114 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
smilo996 said:
It cannot not be that difficult to knock four cylinders off the V12 which is also a twin turbo unit.
Do you have a long career in OEM engine development?

The complexity involved cannot be understated - Mercedes engines undergo massively expensive testing etc to end up with a very reliable unit, Aston can take advantage of the billions of euros of work they've sunk in, make a few changes for more character and slot it straight in with the electronics architecture (which in itself costs billions to develop from scratch).

It's more than just chopping two cylinders off, you've got to have a fully integrated package that works reliably and for sensible cost to keep each car profitable. Going alone and trying to build everything from scratch is exactly what's sunk Aston before.

TooMany2cvs

27,870 posts

59 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
leakymanifold said:
I quite like the interior, its quite fun and different to the usual black....getmecoat
Are you totally colour-blind? It's purple with pink stitching.

cmoose

42,398 posts

162 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
Krikkit said:
Do you have a long career in OEM engine development?

The complexity involved cannot be understated - Mercedes engines undergo massively expensive testing etc to end up with a very reliable unit, Aston can take advantage of the billions of euros of work they've sunk in, make a few changes for more character and slot it straight in with the electronics architecture (which in itself costs billions to develop from scratch).

It's more than just chopping two cylinders off, you've got to have a fully integrated package that works reliably and for sensible cost to keep each car profitable. Going alone and trying to build everything from scratch is exactly what's sunk Aston before.
All true, but means Aston has zero control over its future engine plans. Well, bar the V12.

Feels a bit precarious to me to be buying in engines. Sure, they'll have a deal for x number of years. But what if Merc don't fancy renewing or their next engine doesn't suit Aston? To be fair, they probably don't have much choice and the Merc engine is as good as it gets for this application. Not really sure why Merc would sell them the engine unless it was considering acquiring Aston in the long term...

TooMany2cvs

27,870 posts

59 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
cmoose said:
All true, but means Aston has zero control over its future engine plans. Well, bar the V12.

Feels a bit precarious to me to be buying in engines. Sure, they'll have a deal for x number of years. But what if Merc don't fancy renewing or their next engine doesn't suit Aston? To be fair, they probably don't have much choice and the Merc engine is as good as it gets for this application. Not really sure why Merc would sell them the engine unless it was considering acquiring Aston in the long term...
At a time when AMG are down-sizing like everybody else, there's a good point here...

Oakman

145 posts

91 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
With regard to the new AMG sourced Aston V8 engine.

This weekend I was at a charity event where a small selection of Aston Martins current cars were available to drive on the road with professional instructors from the factory - it was a great experience, very much to recommend.

In discussion with the instructor in the Vantage V8S I was driving, I asked about the new range of engines. He proceeded to tell me the same as was quoted in the above article - ie crated out from AMG and Aston did all the other work.

In conjunction to this with ZF supplying their industry standard 8 speed automatic gearbox but specifically for transaxle use in the Astons.

He did very interestingly cite that Aston were able to extract significantly more BHP than the standard AMG unit, though the 'gentlemans agreement' between them precludes Aston from currently offering this to their customers.

More to come maybe......


cmoose

42,398 posts

162 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
Oakman said:
He did very interestingly cite that Aston were able to extract significantly more BHP than the standard AMG unit, though the 'gentlemans agreement' between them precludes Aston from currently offering this to their customers.

More to come maybe......
Gentleman's agreement? Am sure it's all been fully codified in triplicate. And of course they could extract more power. Given access to the ECU, 30 mins and a laptop, so could your local tuning shop. It's a turbo lump, after all.

Am sure a roadmap of incremental increases is all agreed, but there won't be anything left to gentleman's agreements!

johnnnnnnyy

230 posts

123 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
There once was a time when you'd walk round an Aston stopping in awe at each angle, now a strange face will be pulled as you desperately try and justify why you maybe could live with this over design. The British gentleman's car has gone, replaced with a fashion statement.
Yes I'm looking for my next car. Yes I can afford one. But not feeling the love for this brand anymore.

unpc

2,010 posts

146 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
johnnnnnnyy said:
There once was a time when you'd walk round an Aston stopping in awe at each angle, now a strange face will be pulled as you desperately try and justify why you maybe could live with this over design. The British gentleman's car has gone, replaced with a fashion statement.
Yes I'm looking for my next car. Yes I can afford one. But not feeling the love for this brand anymore.
So what would you buy instead?

TooMany2cvs

27,870 posts

59 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
johnnnnnnyy said:
There once was a time when you'd walk round an Aston stopping in awe at each angle, now a strange face will be pulled as you desperately try and justify why you maybe could live with this over design.
It's amazing how quickly the Virage has been forgotten, really.

johnnnnnnyy

230 posts

123 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
unpc said:
johnnnnnnyy said:
There once was a time when you'd walk round an Aston stopping in awe at each angle, now a strange face will be pulled as you desperately try and justify why you maybe could live with this over design. The British gentleman's car has gone, replaced with a fashion statement.
Yes I'm looking for my next car. Yes I can afford one. But not feeling the love for this brand anymore.
So what would you buy instead?
I was hoping to buy my forth Aston, and keeping an eye on the evolution of this next generation, but seeing them in the flesh and on the road, I'm not feeling anything from them at all.

I kinda took my eye off the ball, pinning my trust into Aston, so have only just started looking around now. I've no idea tbh yet.

Chris Stott

5,292 posts

130 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
Posted this in the Aston forum on Sunday...

Chris Stott said:
Congratulations OP!

Never really had much desire for Aston's. Pretty enough (particularly the early DB9), but always thought they were be big, heavy, tourers.

Yesterday, my brother-in-law went for his 2nd DB11 test drive, I tagged along and the salesman was kind enough to offer me a drive as well. BIL had already driven the V8, so yesterday was the V12.

What a car!

Didn't think the DB11 was particularly good looking when I saw them in the magazines, but in the flesh it's a magnificent thing. A bit colour dependent though. They had 4 in the dealers - a white one (that we drove), black/silver, black/black and green. Didn't think the white one looked right, or the black with silver roof arch. But black and green both looked fabulous.

Thought it would feel like an (expensive) 6er, or mustang to drive, but nothing like that at all... it drove as good as it looked - plenty fast, amazing ride quality, and very agile for such a heavy car.

I left the dealers completely smitten!

Here's the car he's picking up Wednesday... V12 in (special order) Alloro green, with gloss black trim, black interior with yellow stitching.

HighwayStar

1,904 posts

77 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
smilo996 said:
All getting very interesting at Aston Towers.

The Vantage will have the same engine but will they turn up the hair driers and pop the V12 in.

What of AMG. They make one of the engines but that currently is one of four(?).
It cannot not be that difficult to knock four cylinders off the V12 which is also a twin turbo unit.
The new tech centre at Red Bull will include McLaren and Cosworth with their LMP1 engine but not Ricardo, the maker of McLaren's road engines(?).
or perhaps Merc will dump Williams and muscle Merc engines in under the guise of AMG/Aston into the Red Bull.
Perhaps this will affect Aston's future relationship with AMG, signed under the last regime.
Aston is now building down the road from Ford/Jag engine plant. If it stays open why would they continue to produce in Germany.

Aston sales are really strong. Not great in white but the DB11looks good in the flesh.

Vantage might be Db10ish.

Interesting times.
Off topic a little... Re McLaren, how do they tie in with the new Red Bull Tech Centre? Why would they go that way when they now have a pretty extensive deal with Renault? I can't find anything online re McLaren being included in the Aston/Red Bull Tech Centre.
Care to elaborate on this Smilo?

DJMC

2,114 posts

36 months

Wednesday 27th September 2017
quotequote all
unpc said:
So what would you buy instead?
...anything which doesn't leave me with wet ankles and feet, then gets "fixed", then pours rain water over me again, then gets "fixed", then pours rain water over me again, then I give up and sell it back to the dealer at a huge loss!

NEVER again!

mad