RE: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: Driven

RE: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: Driven

Wednesday 1st August

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: Driven

The DBS name returns for the most powerful production Aston ever - is it the best Second Century Aston yet?



Given the last couple of years, expectations for the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera run high. Whereas the previous DBS seemed rather confused in its message - is it just a faster DB9? Is it a Vanquish replacement? Why is there a Virage? - the brief for this car is apparently unequivocal from Aston Martin: "Immaculately styled, obsessively engineered and outrageously potent, the new DBS Superleggera is every inch the Aston Martin flagship." That's Andy Palmer's view. This the car to properly crown the 'regular' Aston range. Following as it does cars like the DB11 AMR and Vantage, cars as competitive as anyone can remember from Aston, there's undeniably cause for optimism.

You'll hopefully be familiar with the DBS essentials by now, but a brief reminder if not: 725hp from a reworked 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12, 664lb ft, 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and 211mph flat out. The wheelbase is the same as a DB11 but the tracks wider and the front overhang shorter. The 2.9:1 final drive is borrowed from the Vantage, now operating through a ZF8HP95 gearbox (because the regular 8HP can't take the torque). There's a maximum of 180kg of downforce (split 60/120 front to back), the standard ceramic brakes are 410mm and 360mm in diameter, and its 21-inch wheels are shod in 265-section (front) and 305-section (rear) Pirelli P-Zeros.

All that is brought together with one extremely specific mission in mind: to be the best Super GT in the world, and beat the 812 Superfast. With recent experience of the Ferrari still fresh in the mind, it would seem remiss not to try and compare the two to some extent with this DBS drive. Of course the scenarios are very different, the UK in March being not exactly comparable with Austria in July, but the temptation is irresistible. Here goes...


On paper, the Ferrari seems to edge it. Sure, there's no doubting Aston's claim of "immense torque for breathtaking response" - 664lb ft surpasses Ferrari's 530lb ft - but the Superfast is more powerful (by 75hp), lighter (by 168kg) and more accelerative. That said, top speed is identical, and the Aston boasts an entry price saving of around £35k (for what it's worth at this level).

Styling wise, it's hard not to see this duel as anything but a victory for the Aston. Unlike the previous DBS, this Superleggera looks like very much its own car - despite clearly being influenced by other Astons. It's pugnacious and tough, yet with some really elegant details, too. To these eyes the Ferrari is both less attractive and less imposing at the same time, a bit fussier than the F12 which preceded it because of the aero focus.

The inside of both cars tells you a lot about their respective personalities. Even if someone else opens the door to a DBS you can smell the Bridge of Weir leather from miles away, the ambience being opulent and decadent in the most appropriate fashion, if still somewhat let down by the occasional fussy detail not befitting of a £250k car. The Ferrari, on the other hand, was all about the driver, decked out with carbon, race harnesses, aggressive bucket seats and all the major controls around the instrument binnacle. Don't worry about the passenger's experience, it seems to say, you have 800hp to concern yourself with...


Before the DBS is even half way through its eight ratios, it's clear this Aston is a more serene, more luxurious and more accommodating car than the banzai Ferrari. While it has a tweaked front anti-roll bar to the DB11 for improved turn-in response, it's also said to be less vertically stiff than a Vantage and features an isolated rear subframe (where it's fixed in the junior model). Combine that with damper modes that begin at GT (they start at Sport in the Vantage) and hopefully you can appreciate that this is a car actually more suited to mooching than the aesthetic and the bravado would have you believe. The aim was to split the difference between a Vantage and a DB11, meaning this Superleggera cruises with aplomb (certainly more quietly than the Ferrari), trundles around down as well as any other GT car and decisively deals with imperfections on minor roads.

However the issue, not unpredictably, is that the edge you might expect from a 725hp Aston flagship never quite materialises. Even with the powertrain and damping dialled up to their most focused, the DBS always feels more at the GT end of the Super GT spectrum. Don't misunderstand: it's still very good, bordering on excellent, with superb traction, a confidence inspiring front end and poised, well honed body control - but it feels similar to what has come before. More than that, it can't come close to matching the deranged yet addictive incisiveness, involvement and excitement of that ruddy Ferrari.

Nowhere is that gulf more apparent than in the respective powertrains. In isolation, the Aston Martin is sublime; indeed anybody coming from the old V12 cars will be blown away by both the accessibility and scale of the performance. Moreover, even compared to the DB11s that use this V12 in different states of tune, the torque is absolutely tremendous - whatever the gear, the punch never seems to subside. Overtakes last half as long as expected, corners are taken a gear up and numbers on the speedo rather naughtier than they should be. All the time.


Yet with knowledge of the 812's powertrain - perhaps one of the finest to ever enter series production, granted - some weaknesses do emerge. The Superleggera's torque converter auto can't match the Ferrari's dual-clutch for shift speed up or down, and Maranello's 6.5-litre V12 remains unmatched in its performance, crazed response and stunning soundtrack. The Aston DBS Superleggera uses a very good V12 and automatic combo; the Ferrari 812 Superfast features a V12 and automatic combo that beggars belief. Again though, the Aston can counter. While the Ferrari buzzes along at a 70mph cruise, desperate to be on a more interesting stretch of road, the DBS is subdued, hushed and refined, yet capable of travelling almost as fast whenever you see fit.

Which leaves us where, exactly? In a bit of a pickle, to be frank. Because it's hard to escape the impression that, enjoyable though the DBS most certainly is, it feels a little too close to the DB11 for comfort. Of course that doesn't make it a bad car - very far from it, in fact - but the gap to the flagship implied by the price and the performance never quite manifests itself in the driving. It comes across as a DB11 AMR S (easy for you to say), certainly a lot quicker but only a tad sharper, without a really distinct identity of its own - despite the look and the promise. Hopefully a comparison between the two will reveal a clearer picture

As for DBS against 812, the cars are actually more different than you might imagine. Really the Ferrari is a mid-engined supercar with the V12 ahead of the driver, more demanding than the Aston yet more rewarding as well. You have to handle more as a driver, but you get more back. The DBS is a far more conventional Super GT, and will appeal to those put off by the Ferrari's intensity: luxurious, cosseting and very fast, the kind of thing Aston has done so well for so long, without really breaking any new ground in the way the Vantage did. Just a few short years ago this car would have been truly revelatory for Aston Martin; in 2018 it feels like a great car, albeit a hard one to justify right now.


SPECIFICATION - ASTON MARTIN DBS SUPERLEGGERA
Engine:
 5,204cc V12, turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp):725@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft):664@1,500-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Top speed: 211mph
Weight: 1,693kg (dry), 1,845kg EU kerbweight
MPG: 23.0
CO2: 285g/km
Price: £225,000

 














Author
Discussion

Speed_Demon

Original Poster:

2,584 posts

124 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Ruddy hell, I think that looks wonderful.

Shame it's not distinctive enough of a drive to really create an identity but perhaps difficult if they were leaning towards a more 'comfortable' drive?

This vs the Ferrari? I think this is very much different strokes for different folks

robm3

4,560 posts

163 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Aston vs Ferrari?

Perhaps we should ask Danny Wilde and Brett Sinclair to 'Persuade' us which one is best... showing my age frown

aston addict

188 posts

94 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Think they’ve done a great job with the exterior styling. The huge grille looks much better with the numberplate and it’s almost got a feline grace to it. Better than the DB11.

Where I think it will age very quickly is the interior. Compare this to that in the new Conti GT - think Harry (Harry’s Garage) said it was one of the best interiors he had ever sat in.

Now I know Aston is chasing a younger audience, but the odd shapes and lines remind me of a British leyland maestro meeting an Alienware pc - somewhat naff.

Well, at least they’ll have something to do for the facelift.

Nerdherder

339 posts

33 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Graft this snout onto the Vantage please Aston. Job jobbed.

dazwalsh

4,047 posts

77 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Oooooh i like that! And no stupid stripes or lime green bits of plastic bolted on.
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mhurley

478 posts

69 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
I don't like the Ipad style screen on the dashboard - too distracting

Gameface

5,944 posts

13 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Article said:
Just a few short years ago this car would have been truly revelatory for Aston Martin; in 2018 it feels like a great car, albeit a hard one to justify right now.
At this level you don't justify, you just buy.

Dan the Deck

45 posts

19 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
I think the DB11 is an awful looking thing, but this looks absolutely superb

ZX10R NIN

12,327 posts

61 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
It looks fantastic which is half the battle & it sounds like it's a good steer to so that's a win win.

swisstoni

7,187 posts

215 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Cars are eventually just going to be a massive grille with a roller skate on the back.

aeropilot

16,579 posts

163 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
robm3 said:
Aston vs Ferrari?

Perhaps we should ask Danny Wilde and Brett Sinclair to 'Persuade' us which one is best... showing my age frown
And I'd still take a 246GTS or DBS V8 over this new DBS any day of the week.........which also shows my age as well.

Can't blame Aston though for chasing the new money market though.....but that interior looks awful.


urquattroGus

931 posts

126 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
That review was dripping with faint praise.

stuckmojo

1,936 posts

124 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Nerdherder said:
Graft this snout onto the Vantage please Aston. Job jobbed.
this. The Vantage has such a lovely shape but the front is horrid.

greenarrow

1,464 posts

53 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
This looks absolutely wonderful. The problem is that it will probably weigh more than the quoted 1845KG (why are Astons sooo heavy) and therefore when performance tested will fall quite a bit short of the Ferrari 812 Superfast. I know straight line performance isn't the be all and end all, but spending this sort of cash, I suspect you want your 725BHP Aston Martin to at least be competitive with the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. After all, back in the day, the original Vantage V8 went toe to toe with the Countach and 911 Turbo and I remember Jeremy Clarkson beating a Diablo in a 1990s Vantage at Santa Pod......

Mackofthejungle

780 posts

131 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
I decent effort I'd say.. Less successful than the DB11 and Vantage overall though. It's just a less elegant car.. I always liked the Ferrari's low key-ness - it's almost narrow looking. I like that. The whole back end of the Aston is a mess too, and it's not very classy looking - bit of a shame - verging on cheap looking..

The rest has hints of old coach works though, which is rare. And the glass house looks big somehow.. Probably a combination of no tints (I want my sports car to look like a van please?!) and the black roof. Pretty lovely.

Interesting reading about the engine though.. I know the Ferrari also has a modern engine, but I'm in no doubt that all engines in all modern cars are getting worse. Turbo this and small capacity that - it's great for economy and emissions (apparently), but my god we're driving some dull cars now!

indapendentlee

255 posts

35 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
It looks absolutely amazing - just enough difference from the DB11, just enough aggression - lovely. The interior is too similar to DB11 and it'll have too much torque to put the power down anywhere (early DB11s with 125bhp less were pretty spinny-uppy) but the real problem is that it's a real tough sell where it sits.

If you want a GT that isn't a DB11 the NA V12 in the Ferrari wins the day, if you want focused sports car I can't see how you'd pick this over a 720S. I really want Aston to do well but it's going to be tough!

Twoshoe

423 posts

120 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
robm3 said:
Aston vs Ferrari?

Perhaps we should ask Danny Wilde and Brett Sinclair to 'Persuade' us which one is best... showing my age frown
I remember it too if it's any comfort - best tv theme tune ever!

cheddar

4,067 posts

110 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Ok, hands up, £250k, one car, your money, one chance, this or a Ferrari Superfast?

TaylotS2K

1,574 posts

143 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
Beautiful car. Simply stunning.

Davey S2

11,984 posts

190 months

Wednesday 1st August
quotequote all
If I wanted a big, fast, comfortable GT to use as an everyday car I'd rather the new Continental GT.

If I wanted a thrilling, fast, loud supercar which can also do the GT role I'd take the 812.

Still al very nice looking thing though (on the outside at least).