With wild styling and an equally wild 715bhp, Aston Martin's new DBS Superleggera is the GT re-invented with more swagger. By James Taylor
THE FASTER YOU GO. THE BETTER
Highest ever downforce for a production Aston: 180kg at Vimax (60kg front, 120kg rear) yet without any extra drag versus DB11. That's thanks to clever underbody aero and a shrewdly tuned rear spoiler.
ASTON MARTIN HAS revived two storied name plates for its latest, and fastest, grand tourer: the evocatively named DBS Superleggera. Priced from £225,000, the new model becomes the Gaydon firm’s flagship GT, powering into the position previously held by the now-retired Vanquish S.
The DBS name was last applied to a new Aston in 2012, on a harder, faster, more muscular version of the DB9. In turn, the new DBS is closely related to the DB11 but there’s more distance between the two models this time, both visually and dynamically.
Superleggera means ‘super-light’ in Italian, but despite carbonfibre bodywork the DBS is hardly a flyweight, at 1693kg dry. It is around 70kg lighter than the DB11, however.
While DBS and DB11 share the same bonded aluminium structure and 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12, the DBS’s wide-mouthed grille (reminiscent of recent Zagato-styled Aston specials) and new light treatments make it look significantly different from its donor car at 20 paces. It will offer a markedly more focused driving experience than the DB11, too.
The Vi2’s power output has jumped to no less than 7isbhp (compared with 63obhp in the top DBn AMR variant), and torque has climbed by nearly 1501b ft to a 6641b ft peak. That would be too much for the DBn’s gearbox, so the DBS has a new ZF eight-speed auto, with a lower final drive. While o-62mph is dusted in 3-4sec, it’s in-gear acceleration where the DBS’s extra muscle and shorter gearing will really tell. In fourth gear, for example, 50-ioomph will take 4.2sec.
‘Nine-hundred Newton-metres [6641b ft] from i8oorpm is a lot to manage,’ Aston’s chief engineer for vehicle engineering Matt Becker tells CAR, ‘but our goal is a linear ratio between driver capability and car performance. We’ve developed new tyres
with Pirelli - 265 front, 305 rear - for two reasons. It looks better, in my opinion. Plus of course the wider section gives more traction. We’ve increased the limited-slip differential’s locking ratio by five per cent compared with the DB11, again for traction and control.’
Electronic torque vectoring also helps the DBS meter its vast torque output precisely, without vaping those bespoke P Zeroes. It sits 5mm lower than the DB11, on the same forged double wishbones up front and multi-link rear suspension, with adaptive dampers
with three modes - GT, Sport and Sport Plus. Becker explains that spring rates have been increased by around 15 per cent compared with the DB11. Roll stiffness too has been increased, to make the DBS feel more agile, with the power steering software retuned likewise. The rear bushes’ stiffness is a blend of DB11 and Vantage, as is the suspension tuning as a whole - ‘so it doesn’t step on those cars’ toes’.
Becker says the DBS Superleggera has been developed to occupy its own space within the Aston range in terms of how it drives. ‘DB11 is a GT car - the gentleman of the bunch - and Vantage is the hunter. DBS sits between them. It’s a GT car; a super-GT, if you will. Comfort is very important, as is a sense of connection for the driver.’
The V12's internals haven’t changed, the performance jump coming from electronic tweakery, additional cooling and a new exhaust (with active-valved quad tailpipes promised to sound louder and more evocative than the DB11). Becker describes it simply as ‘turning the engine up’.
DBS dynamics sit between DB11 and Vantage. It's a GT car, but a super-GT'Matt Becker
Downforce has been turned up too, to the highest level yet for a production Aston, but with an identical drag figure to the DB11, thanks largely to underbody airflow management. Venturi vanes create front downforce and channel air into the double diffuser at the rear. The blade-like rear spoiler helps too, the product of plenty of collaborative back and forth between Aston’s aero and
There’s nothing shy about the DBS’s interior, with quilted leather at every turn and a smorgasbord of colour and trim options. Look closely and you’ll spot a Mercedessourced central dial and touchpad to operate the LCD multimedia screen.
Aston’s big car push continues apace. The DBS Superleggera is the third new model in its plan to launch seven new cars in seven years, following the DB11 and Vantage. DBS Superleggera deliveries will start in the autumn, with a convertible Volante version expected to follow in 2019.
What's in a name?
Badges with backstory
The new DBS is Aston's third. The first was launched in 1967; an elegant square-jawed bruiser styled by Bill Towns and made famous by George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (dubbed tyre squeal on a beach and all), before evolving into the V8 Vantage. The name returned for 2007's DB9 evolution - itself made famous by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
The name references the lightweight construction methods used by coachbuilders
Touring and licensed to Aston for use on special bodywork for the DB4 and DB5. The Superleggera script on the new car's bonnet echoes that of original '60s cars.
- Engine 5204cc 48v twin-turbo V12,715bhp@6500rpm, 664lb ft @ 1800rpm
- Transmission 8-speed auto, limitedslip diff, rear-wheel drive
- Suspension Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear
- Performance 3.4sec 0-62mph, 6.4sec 0 -100mph, 211mph, 22.9mpg (est), 285g/km C02 (est)
- Weight 1693kg (dry)
- On sale Autumn