The 2018 Aston Martin DB11 offers willing V-8 or V-12 power (both with a distinctive voice), spirited grand touring handling, a comfortable ride, and strong brakes. We rate the DB11 a 9 for performance based on these strengths. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
V-8 or V-12 power
Both engines are new for this generation of the DB. The V-12 is now a twin-turbocharged 5.2-liter unit that makes 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The V-8 is also twin-turbocharged. It’s a 4.0-liter engine from Mercedes-AMG, and it puts out 503 hp and 498 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines sit farther back in the chassis than the DB9’s engines, creating better weight distribution, and both are mated to a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted via steering wheel paddles.
In terms of engine performance, the V-8 and V-12 are practically a toss-up. The V-8 propels the DB11 from 0-62 mph in 4.0 seconds, while the V-12 does the deed in 3.9 seconds. The V-12 tops out at 200 mph, while the V-8 can hit 187 mph. The main advantages for the V-12 are in the badge and the sound.
Still, both engines provide a menacing note worthy of the beautiful sheet metal that surrounds them. Aston Martin tuned the Mercedes V-8 to sound more like an Aston engine, replacing the intake and exhaust to limit the typical AMG bass tones and bring out the midrange and high tones. Both also drop an octave or two when put in the Sport or Sport+ modes to announce their intentions more vehemently, letting out pops and crackles when the driver lets off the gas and between gears.
Power with the V-12 is more immediate, as the V-8’s turbos take a bit of time to spool up. Thereafter, both engines pin occupants back in those sculpted leather seats and launch this beautiful British missile toward the horizon.
The transmission shifts better than a human can, cracking off quick shifts in the Sport modes, dropping up to four gears on downshifts, and holding gears longer. In Comfort the shifts are smooth and the revs are kept low.
A relaxed but capable grand tourer
The DB9 was an old car by the time it was retired and it suffered for it. The ride was stiff, and the handling wasn’t up to current sports car standards. The DB11 is more relaxed, but very capable. Its new platform is 85 pounds lighter and 15 percent stiffer, while the body is longer, lower and wider.
The DB11 is far easier to drive on a regular basis than the DB9, thanks to a smoother ride, especially with the dampers in GT model. Aston Martin makes the V-8 model a bit stiffer, with firmer dampers and rear bushings, but they mostly serve to improve handling rather than harm the ride.
The Sport and Sport+ settings make the ride jiggly, but not overly harsh.
The DB11’s steering, handling, and braking, however, are quite accomplished. The quick 13:1 steering ratio combines with the stiff platform to make turn-in immediate. The 20-inch 245/40 front and 285/35 rear Bridgestone Potenza 007 tires grip tenaciously, the car rotates predictably through corners, the brakes are strong and confident, and the DB11 is settled at speed.
Balance is better with the V-8, which weighs 243 pounds less than the V-12. All of that weight comes off the nose, creating a near-perfect 51/49 front/rear weight bias. It’s the one to buy for those who want the sportier DB11.
While the DB11 has a brake-actuated torque-vectoring system and a mechanical limited-slip differential, Aston Martin does not offer some systems that would improve track performance, such as active rear steering, a clutch-based torque vectoring system, or carbon ceramic brakes.
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