The only engine offered in the DB11 is a twin-turbocharged V12 that produces 600bhp and 700Nm of torque, and provides a big step up in performance over the DB9. In fact the DB11’s 3.9sec 0-60mph time and 200mph top speed almost match those of the old Vanquish, a supposedly much more extreme machine.
Unlike many high-performance cars that have switched to turbocharging, including Ferrari’s California and 488 GTB, the DB11’s new V12 still retains much of the aural magic that made the old engine so appealing. You still get that wonderful flare of revs when the engine first fires (unless you’ve given the starter button a long press to activate the new ‘quiet start mode’ to keep your neighbours happy) and the richly textured tune coming from the exhausts under hard acceleration is a real joy to hear.
But the DB11’s much more substantial low-down and mid-range pull makes it feel like a far more effortlessly accelerative machine than the DB9. Turbo lag is well contained and the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox is only occasionally wrong-footed.
A switch above the steering wheel spoke lets you flick between three driving modes: GT, Sport and Sport Plus. In GT mode the gearbox assumes a relaxed demeanour, gearshift strategy, throttle response and exhaust sound, each becoming more aggressive as you progress through the modes.
Although Aston has tried to create a more GT-like car with the DB11 there’s still an expectation of sports car handling with any car wearing the DB badge. And thanks to an even weight distribution that comes from the weight of the front-mounted V12 being countered by the mass of the rear-mounted gearbox, the DB11 handles extremely well. It’s a large car, over 4.7m long and almost 1800kg, but there’s little evidence of understeer and the rear tyres seem more than man enough to cope with the engine’s prodigious torque.
The steering ratio is significantly faster than the old DB9’s - quick enough to make it feel noticeably more alert when turning, but not so fast that it requires any kind of acclimatising process, like a Ferrari.
The steering is now electrically- rather than hydraulically assisted and, while pleasingly accurate, has lost some of the detailed feedback that made older Astons so enjoyable to drive even at low speeds. Aston says that was a deliberate move designed to promote the DB11’s role as a relaxing long-distance companion, and to make parking easier for those who plan to use their cars every day.
For the same reason, in the adaptive dampers’ basic GT setting, the body is allowed to move quite freely. Some will prefer the suspension to take a tighter grip even in normal driving, and would be advised to use the steering wheel mounted switch to select the chassis’ Sport mode. Certainly for any kind of enthusiastic use, Sport is the preferred option. Sport Plus is best reserved for race tracks and ultra-smooth surfaces.