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Staggering Superleggera


THE ASTON MARTIN DBS SUPERLEGGERA IS NOTHING SHORT OF STAGGERING. ASTON MARTIN’S NEW FLAGSHIP IS WINNING FANS EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING THIS WRITER AFTER A MERE TWO DAYS IN ITS COMPANY.

 

Aston Martin DBS | Photo: Drew Gibson

 

The DBS Superleggera is based on the same platform as the DB11, but don’t think for a moment it’s the same car.

The giveaway is in the name, Superleggera, which in Italian means Super Light.

The DBS weighs in at 1800kg, but thanks to lots of carbon fibre bits and bobs, it weighs 75kg less than the DB11.

Its textbook coupe lines are some of the most muscular and toned of any Super GT.

Think of the DBS as the car equivalent of Jason Statham in a Saville Row suit.

However, the handiwork of Aston Martin design guru Marek Reichman features function as well as form.

Side vents, which hark back to Aston design of yesteryear, channel air up over the wing mirrors, through gaps in the rear three quarter, and out through the lip spoiler at the rear.

This ‘Aeroblade’ system provides 180kg of downforce at speed.

Providing said speed is a 5.2L twin-turbo V12 and Aston’s slick ZF eight-speed auto box.

This engine and gearbox combo are an all-conquering powerhouse, with a gargantuan 533kW and 900Nm of torque.

You could attach that to your garage and still reach 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. Top speed? The far side of 330km/h!

Inside you still get Aston’s incredible quality and craftsmanship, and looking ahead you see that long muscular bonnet stretching to the horizon.

The switchgear is all previous gen Mercedes, which does the job fine, but feels a tad last week in a car costing $465,000.

On the flipside, once you fire up the DBS, the ensuing V12 bellow is nigh on one of the most primeval soundtracks of any car on sale today.

Around town it is incredibly docile, just watch the low nose on speedbumps, but when you hit the great wide open, you need to be awake.

To say the DBS is quick would be a severe understatement, all it takes is for you to stray above 2,000rpm, and you are fed the kind of acceleration capable of rearranging your fillings.

Each shift is crisp and you realise the car you wanted to overtake is now a spec in your rear-view mirror.

The carbon brakes slow you down with breath-taking precision and in Sport Plus, despite being a big Grand Tourer, you can eat up bendy bitumen with pinpoint accuracy.

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is lightyears ahead of its DB11 and Vantage counterparts in Aston Martin’s family of supercars. It might be too much oomph for some people, but those wanting the ultimate in refinement, luxury and earth-shattering speed, should look no further than what is very possibly, the greatest Aston Martin road car yet.

Aston Martin DBS | Photo: Drew Gibson

 

Grand Tourer with attitude


THE ASTON MARTIN DB11 IS ALREADY A FINE CAR, BUT IN THIS WRITER’S OPINION, A BIT TOO SOFT AND GT-ESQUE.

Aston Martin has gone two steps further to separate the V12 from the V8 in the line-up. Enter the $355,000 DB11 AMR; the Grand Tourer with the attitude that the DB11 V12 always should have.

Where does the AMR come in? These three initials stand for Aston Martin Racing, a name given to faster, race-inspired Astons of recent years.

The AMR also officially replaces the standard DB11 V12 in the range.

Under the bonnet, the 5.2-litre twin turbo V12 gets 22kW more than the outgoing DB11 V12, bringing total power output to 470kW/700Nm.

Coupled to Aston’s slick eight-speed-automatic gearbox, zero to 100km/h is dealt with in 3.7 seconds. Sure, you will be doing 11.4L/100km, but that is not why you bought one is it?

The AMR gets a larger front anti-roll bar, the rear suspension has been retuned to give a sportier feel, the dampers both front and rear have also been revised for the same reason, and that V12 is even louder.

Inside, you do get all the fruit as before, but the Mercedes switchgear and infotainment screen feel a tad out of place in a car which costs in excess of $350,000. Sure, it is very responsive and will do the job of working the nav, Bluetooth etc, but it just doesn’t feel bespoke enough for the AMR.

With a high transmission tunnel and hip-hugging leather chairs, you do feel rather cocooned by your surroundings. In fact, the driving position as a whole is nigh on perfect. Though, the lack of a glovebox is odd.

As per the Vantage, you can fiddle about with the damping and engine modes by pressing the two buttons on either side of the wheel, with three modes, GT, Sport and Sport Plus, available for

With a wheelbase of 2802mm, and 4739mm from nose to tail, the DB11 is certainly no point-and-shoot sports car.

That said, around town, the AMR, despite its sportier pretensions and feeling bigger than it actually is, manages to be quite easy to manoeuvre and doesn’t feel daunting by any means.

With the engine and dampers in GT mode, the AMR can eat up the miles, but in the flowing twisting country backroads, the AMR tweaks make themselves known.

You can carry a great deal of speed into each bend, with little effort required to coax it into the corner. Plus, when you lift off, the exhaust crackles like a far-off battlefield.

Switch the dampers and engine into Sport Plus, and the AMR gets serious. Those mods to the chassis and the suspension makes it live and supple.

Steering weights up beautifully and standing on the anchors means you come to a dead stop in quick succession.

The DB11 no longer suffers from middle child syndrome. The AMR package turns the DB11 V12 from a fine tourer into a seriously desirable sporting package.


 

2019 Aston Martin Vantage

Aston’s Perfect Storm: 2019 Aston Martin Vantage


The plan was simple: spend three days in Auckland driving the most eagerly anticipated Aston Martin for years – the 2019 Vantage.

 

2019 Aston Martin Vantage
MAKE NO MISTAKE, THE NEW VANTAGE IS AN ALL-OUT SPORTS CAR

 

The new car is the first completely all new Vantage since the first generation launched in 2006, and boy they did not muck around with the rebuild. Aston Martin claims the new hard-charging baby in the line-up is a full-on Porsche 911-beater.

Styling-wise the new Vantage, like pretty much all Astons for the last half century, is a real stunner. Chief Designer Marek Reichman has always been handy with a pencil and paper, but the Vantage is easily one of his greatest hits.

Marrying form and function in an exceptional package, it takes inspiration from the DB10 Bond car and the ballistic Vulcan track car. At 4465mm long and 2153mm wide, it’s actually 286mm shorter than the DB11. Make no mistake, the new Vantage is an all-out sports car.

However, the biggest change comes in the form of it’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine producing 373kW of power and 680Nm of torque. Coincidentally, this engine comes from Mercedes AMG, and is a real peach.

Mated to a new ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox, rear-mounted electronic diff and weighing in at 1530kg, the new Vantage is no slouch, with zero to 100km/h achieved in 3.6 seconds and a top whack of 314km/h.

Three drive and damping modes, sport, sport plus and track are on offer. Sport is for normal driving while sport plus increases the exhaust noise, sharpens the throttle response and quickens the gearchanges. In track, everything is the same, but times 10; the same goes for the damping. However, you can easily have the suspension in sport and the engine in track, which for some New Zealand roads is a handy tool in one’s automotive arsenal.

Inside you get a truly sumptuous, bang up to date cabin. The driving position is low and, thanks to a high transmission tunnel, you feel really cocooned by your surroundings. All interior features are easy to operate via a very familiar looking touchpad system. While the digital dials are clean and crisp, I do miss the chronograph watch style dials of old.

On the move, the Vantage gives acceleration to rearrange your fillings, a V8 bellow that would wake the dead and sharp handling seldom seen anywhere else. The eight speed ZF transmission is so much slicker than previous sport shift set-up, the steering is perfect and precise, and the combination of 50-50 weight distribution and sticky Pirelli P-Zero rubber, means the Vantage will eat up every bend with ease.

Prices start at $249,000, not cheap but few cars out there give you the same level of performance, comfort, practicality and exclusivity. The idea that I had to give it back, filled me with dread. Bravo Aston Martin, bravo.