The Aston Martin DB11, once somewhat underwhelming, now finds itself reinvigorated… can the all-new ‘super tourer,’ the DB12, right the course for Aston Martin’s iconic lineage? Picture it: the bewitching hour, 4 AM, in the temporarily hushed village of Silverstone. If this were a vampire movie, this is when the bloodsuckers come out to party, but instead, it’s the aftermath of the Grand Prix, where they’re busy erasing every shred of F1 evidence like experienced grave robbers under the cloak of darkness.
As I steer the DB12 through this sombre landscape, the momentary encounter with a speed bump tells me this car has been playing in a different league since its DB11 days. The DB12 struts its stuff with composed grace, effortlessly handling the bounce and rebound, making it clear that something extraordinary is afoot.
But let’s not forget, cars like this are city slickers, so that’s where we begin – a twist in the tale, you could say. I’m off to see how our DB12 fares in a Silverstone GP city/track challenge, right where Max Verstappen sent his RB19 darting around in a mere 90.275 seconds during his win in July. Aston’s got some big shoes to fill, given its recent sporting success; hence, let’s take the DB12 for a spin on the Silverstone stage.
The V8 under the hood, with twin turbos for that extra oomph, purrs its presence up to the roundabout from Towcester to Whittlebury Road. It’s like a musical murmur, noticeable yet not obnoxious. As I navigate the streets, I encounter the first of many police cars, gliding past with all the calm sophistication of Bond avoiding a sticky situation. Cattle End awaits, with intrigued onlookers ready to assess my vehicular choice. A slight twist, and I’m steering through the GT-ish turns with the deftness of a maestro guiding his orchestra with wrist flicks.
The DB12 is already whispering in my ear that it’s more than just another Aston. The way it dances with throttle and steering, the grace with which it executes my every command – it feels like it’s been to Aston charm school. But does it live up to the title of the world’s first super tourer? That’s the question we’ve got to answer, and it’s a tag that’s been thrown around before, even by the likes of the Ferrari Roma and the Porsche 911 Turbo. Those cars have intensity oozing from every bolt; does the DB12 have that same fire within?
Let’s rewind a bit and remember the DB11 – not a bad car per se, but one that aged a little faster than we’d hoped. The dashboard was a bit of a puzzle, cluttered and crowded, and that infotainment system, a borrowed relic from Mercedes, never quite danced gracefully with the car’s spirit. Beyond the seven-tenths mark, it felt like a fish out of water, squatting, twisting, losing its grip – not the kind of dance partner you’d want when coming out of a corner. So, here’s the mission: let’s sort out those niggles.
In the style department, you might think not much has changed. It’s visually assertive, but not quite the brute force of the DBS. There’s less brawn and more finesse, but you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a well-done facelift rather than an entirely new creation. Don’t be fooled; the magic happened underneath.
The platform remains the same, but it’s beefed up with extra bracing for added rigidity. The double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension layout are untouched, but the real magic lies in what isn’t there anymore – no more V12, no hybrid. Emissions caught up with the V12, and a hybrid would have been more expensive than building a gold-plated race track. So, the twin-turbo V8, first introduced in 2018, gets a makeover. It now belts out a robust 671 horsepower and a muscular 590 lb-ft of torque. Hold on to your driving gloves; that’s a lot of power. All this gusto is channelled through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which has undergone its own fine-tuning, including a shorter final drive for better sprinting. 0 to 62 mph in a blistering 3.6 seconds.
Now we’re cruising along the A43, a chance to put the pedal to the metal. The DB11 was quite adept at this sort of terrain, save for one nagging issue – it suffered from some rather impolite tire noise. The DB12, however, features Michelin’s latest Pilot Sport S 5 tyres, equipped with foam inserts to hush the noise. It’s a masterful performance on this stretch. The gearbox, as if guided by an innate sense, always selects the perfect gear, even with the abundant torque at play.
The improved visibility means less bobbing and weaving when changing lanes, and the steering feels crisper in my hands, yet simultaneously more settled. While not quite the lofty isolation of a Conti GT, it still carries itself with a sporty demeanour, but with a twist – if this were a drive to Calais, I wouldn’t think twice. I’d recline, listen to the engine’s soothing melody, and perhaps explore the new Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi system on the straighter stretches.
Now, let’s talk about the interior – it’s a game-changer. This is Aston’s cabin revolution. The forward view is uncluttered because the central screen doesn’t hog the dashboard’s upright position; instead, it reclines gracefully below the vents. It’s less invasive, avoiding the tech-heavy focus, steering us back to the realm of materials and craftsmanship.
But there’s something worth celebrating here – Aston’s first touchscreen. It’s responsive, not bogged down by a maze of menus, and, most importantly, it’s Aston’s own creation, not a hand-me-down from an aging Mercedes. Look at the centre console, though, and you’ll sense a familiar vibe. It’s got that Porsche essence, a toggle gear lever, and a sloping deck adorned with buttons. It’s a more tactile experience, with rotary barrels for temperature and volume adjustments, but it’s a subtle nod towards Stuttgart’s direction.
The ergonomics have been vastly improved, there’s more storage, and the cabin feels more open, less claustrophobic. The driving position is pure artistry, nestled behind a beautifully contoured steering wheel, perched on a seat so meticulously sculpted that the optional carbon bucket seems unnecessary. You slide in and marvel at how far Aston has come. Sure, there’s no grand expansion in rear seat space, and the boot’s access is still a bit of a puzzle – the lid doesn’t lift far enough, and it’s easy to bump your head when reaching in. But for two fortunate souls, this space, this ambience, is heaven.
Some might say that Silverstone’s inland setting is somewhat unspectacular, but I uncovered some of the most divine driving roads in Britain. And let me tell you, these roads are the ultimate test for the DB12. The engine and chassis harmonise like seasoned musicians, climbing with a synchronicity that’s enviable. The moment you turn in, you can feel the rear axle joining the party, compressing and supporting alongside the front, ensuring both outer wheels stick to the script. When you plant the accelerator, there’s no slack to take up, just crisp, effortless power delivery. It’s a dance with controlled grace, offering conviction without fuss.
And it’s engaging, though not as tightly wound as a McLaren Artura or as hyperactive as the caffeine-fueled Lamborghini Huracan STO. Instead, it’s richly satisfying, its thrills might not be as immediate, but they’ll leave a lasting mark. It traverses the Church Way chicane with eagerness, finding its rhythm as the road opens up, a graceful back and forth, each corner an elegant embrace.
Are there criticisms? Perhaps the steering lacks a bit of natural feel – but in this context, it feels just right, inspiring confidence. The optional carbon-ceramic brakes do experience a touch of fade and a slightly soft pedal when pushed to the brink, but spec them for the 27kg weight reduction, not their extra dynamism. The engine isn’t a wild explosion of power, nor does it scream with aggression; it’s a deep-sea diver, plunging into the depths of torque, pushing you forward with an abundance of thrust. And then, after a moment’s pause, you realise there’s still a couple of inches of throttle travel just waiting for your command. Welcome to supercar speed, presented with the dignified grace of a grand tourer. This upgraded V8 is wonderfully forceful, singing with a throaty timbre, yet even when you unleash its full fury, there’s no sense of the DB12 bidding adieu to its comfort zone. It’s like that dependable friend who never lets you down.
In a final attempt to catch it off guard, the following morning, I steer it up the Towcester bypass. Width and a lengthy snout are its only downfalls; I don’t miss the V12, for it never felt as responsive as this, and it would likely appear sluggish in this crisp, new chassis. As for hybridisation, that might mean losing the V8 and gaining an unwanted heap of weight.
After taking some pictures outside Silverstone Distillery, I took a moment to appreciate the DB12’s magnetic aesthetics. Its styling may not be a revolution, but it’s confidently assertive, and the massive grille, well, it’s a statement. The choice of colour matters too, and Iridescent Thunder looks like a million pounds as the sun lends its golden touch, casting long, luxurious shadows.
The drive back that evening revealed more about the DB12’s sheer competence. It may not be the most dramatic beast to handle, but I can’t catch it off guard. Whatever I throw at it, it’s ready, anticipating my next move. It’s obedient, poised, exhibiting real grace and composure. You might think I’m not utterly enthralled, but that’s not the case. It might not possess the raw intensity of a Porsche or a Ferrari, but it’s got the ability to leave a lasting impression.
So, what’s the verdict? While it may not have the same tightly wound demeanour as the Maserati MC20 or the sheer dynamism of the Porsche 911 GT3, the DB12 sits right at the heart of it all. It’s a car with prowess in every facet, the kind of companion that doesn’t ask for much but delivers so much more. It’s a car that I’d love to embark on leisurely jaunts with, a partner for memorable journeys.
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