by Karl Furlong
Call it the "beauty premium" or "beauty bias," but several studies have found that good-looking people are likelier to earn more, have increased confidence levels, and even be perceived as more competent. It's a cruel deficiency of human nature, but this same deficiency is the reason that Aston Martin remains one of the world's most desired automotive brands. These cars may not always be the quickest, fastest, or best built, but it's impossibly hard to take your eyes off them, and the same holds true for the DB11 Coupe with its seductive proportions. The interior is also easy on the eye and replete with expensive-feeling materials. Under the hood, a choice of either a 503-horsepower twin-turbo V8 or a twin-turbo V12 with 630 horses each provides more than enough power, while the cabin's layout is much improved over older Astons. A true GT, the DB11 thrives at a high-speed cruise. So, while it isn't the most practical grand tourer and rivals like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe feel even more opulent inside, the irresistible style of the DB11 will have you making all kinds of excuses for its few flaws.
Aston Martin has left the DB11 largely unchanged for the 2020 model year.
See trim levels and configurations:
The DB9 was - and remains - one of the most beautiful coupes ever made, so it couldn't have been easy for Aston Martin to redesign this icon without displeasing brand loyalists. Thankfully, the DB11 doesn't deviate too far from the formula, with the same long hood and narrow side windows, but the newer car does get a wider front grille and subtly reshaped headlamps. The DB11's 'floating roof' - with the side strakes finished in a contrasting color - does stand out, as does its less bulky rear aspect with slimmer taillamps. The V8 has power-folding exterior mirrors, 20-inch wheels, black hood meshes, and a graphite splitter, diffuser, and sills. The racier AMR V12 gets 20-inch forged wheels, carbon hood blades, and available AMR signature lime accents.
Long, low, and wide, the DB11 is nevertheless not quite as gargantuan as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. The 110.4-inch wheelbase is housed in a body with a total length of 187 inches (the S-Class Coupe, by comparison, is 198.1 inches long). The DB11 is 81.1 inches wide including the exterior mirrors and its height is 50.8 inches, a full 4.8 inches lower than the S-Class. The V8 model weighs in at 3,880 pounds and the V12 is naturally heavier at 4,134 lbs.
Aston Martin's positioning as an exotic brand for the most discerning of customers becomes clear when configuring your new DB11, as there is a dizzying array of options. If you don't want to build your ideal car from scratch (by choosing your own exterior color and interior material combinations), you can choose from one of several designer specifications. Pop Pioneer, for instance, mixes Blue Haze metallic paint with Light Argento metallic, while Tech Wave blends Morning Frost (white) paint with Gloss Black pillars. Choosing your own colors avails over 50 different shades, from stealthy hues like Silver Birch Provenance, Satin Xenon Grey, and Satin Jet Black, to some truly vibrant colors like Frosted Glass Yellow, Dubonnet Rosso, and Royal Indigo. The brake calipers can be painted in yellow, Madagascar Orange, Bronze, and more, while the roof strakes can be had in Gloss Silver or Black to contrast with the chosen paintwork color. Unfortunately, we can't tell you what our favored combination is as we didn't have a month to explore all the possibilities.
Both DB11 Coupes have mighty engines that make them ideally suited to the GT role. The 'base' model employs a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 producing 503 horsepower and 513 lb-ft of torque, generously donated from Mercedes-AMG. Power is fed to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, enabling the V8 DB11 to reach 62 mph in about four seconds and carry on to a top speed of 187 mph. If nothing but a V12 will suffice, the AMR model will oblige with its 5.2-liter twin-turbo unit that churns out 630 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, improving the 0-62 time to 3.7 seconds and increasing the top speed to 208 mph. So, the V12's performance advantage is relatively slim and, in the real world, it would be difficult to sense the difference. The Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe is a serious competitor to the Aston as it accomplishes 0-60 in only 3.4 seconds; the Merc's torque output of 664 lb-ft trounces even the V12 DB11.
Mercedes' AMG division has been cranking out world-class engines for years, so Aston Martin loyalists shouldn't feel shortchanged by the DB11 V8 using an AMG-sourced engine. Here, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo develops 503 hp and 513 lb-ft of torque and, with its 'hot vee' configuration, throttle response is improved. It pairs well with the eight-speed automatic and, as the performance figures above demonstrate, the V8 is barely slower than the V12. On the move, there is a deep well of power to tap into, making it easy to pass slower traffic and ensuring that the big coupe is largely unaffected by inclines. If there is one complaint, it's that in this application, the V8 doesn't sound as loud or exciting as it does in Mercedes products. The AMR's 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 delivers all of its 630 hp and 516 lb-ft to the rear wheels and, while performance is only slightly better than in the V8, the bigger engine's character is a few notches above as it wails towards the red line. The transmission is good rather than great; sometimes, downshifts take slightly longer than you want them to. But in normal driving, the unit shifts gears smoothly.
When the DB11 Coupe was first launched, it didn't handle with the assurance that was expected. Driven with enthusiasm, it lacked the precision expected of an Aston Martin, even one that is more of a grand tourer; the V12 engine seemed to overwhelm the car and there was too much discernable weight transfer to inspire confidence. Chassis tweaks have improved matters through the years, though, and while one can't entirely escape the DB11's size and weight, the steering is accurate and keenly communicates what the front wheels are doing. The car is also better at powering out of corners than before.
It's the V8 that feels sprightlier, though, largely the result of it being 254 lbs lighter. Its responsive engine also encourages you to drive it harder, while the V12 is more mellow and better suited to fulfilling the role of a traditional GT. The adaptive damping system offers GT, Sport, and Sport + modes, with each gradually improving body control but maintaining the smooth ride quality. You can cover vast distances in the DB11 and emerge still feeling fresh and ready for more. That is, after all, what a true GT is about. On the downside, the cabin isn't as hushed as the one in the S-Class Coupe.
The DB11 has all the ingredients for heavy consumption, but the V8's figures aren't actually too terrible. EPA estimates for this model work out to 18/24/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, dropping to 15/22/18 mpg for the V12. With a 20.5-gallon gas tank, the V8's combined cruising range works out to around 410 miles, decreasing to 369 miles for the V12.
Aston Martins have always felt as special inside as they looked on the outside. Fortunately, the DB11 is no different. Everywhere you look, there is upscale leather - even the hoop to pull the front seat forward is leather-covered instead of the more typical plastic latch. There are some other expensive touches, such as a button to electrically open or close the center console lid. The link to Mercedes-Benz is evident in the infotainment system, which can be operated with an available touchpad. While one or two pieces of trim look cheaper than those in an S-Class, the overall impression is positive. Plush, power-adjustable front seats with memory, an electronic instrument cluster, and an Alcantara headliner are standard features. Of course, with the level of customization available, owners can specify a cabin that suits their exacting tastes.
The 2+2 tag means that while the DB11 has rear seats, they're best used for extra packing space, as no adult should ever have to attempt to squeeze themselves back there. Things are far better in front, where legroom and headroom are sufficient. The seats are richly trimmed in leather and offer excellent lateral support. Ingress and egress are good and, if someone of a smaller stature must get into the back, access is enhanced, thanks to a front seat that automatically moves forward. The roof pillars can impede the view out, though.
Once you've finally managed to choose your ideal exterior color and wheel combination, it's time to tuck into the endless array of interior color and trim choices. Three color-split environments (monotone, duotone, and Q Split) dictate how your color choices are applied to the leather seats and the cabin as a whole. Over 50 colors are available, ranging from more low-key hues like Obsidian Black, Dark Mocha, Oxford Tan, and Wolf Grey, to Californian Poppy, Vivid Red, and Cote d'Azur Blue. The pillars can be a different color to the roof, and the headrests can differ to the seat, so the options are almost limitless. The Aston Martin wing emblem can be embroidered into the seats, while even the seatbelts have their own color palette spanning five shades. Trim inlays include Piano Black, Dyed Tamo Open Pore wood, and Twill Carbon. In summary, then, the bespoke Aston experience starts long before you fire up the engine for the first time.
Offering around ten cubic feet of trunk space, the DB11's cargo area can fit two soft bags and two smaller suitcases. It's not much, then, but it's nearly as much as the Mercedes S-Class coupe, which has 10.4 cubes of space. The optional four-piece luggage set isn't just for show and is a great way to maximize every inch of the available trunk capacity. Interior storage space for smaller items isn't exactly generous, either, with most of the responsibility going to the covered center console, which houses a tray and cupholders.
Despite the luxurious feel of the cabin, it isn't as well-equipped as German sports cars that cost much less. Standard features encompass power-adjustable front seats with a three-position memory system, heated front seats, power-folding exterior mirrors, front/rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, cruise control with a speed limiter, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an electronic instrument cluster. Keyless entry and go forms part of the package, too. Besides providing a massive variety of trim and color choices, the options list also contains amenities like ventilated seats, auto park assist, a powered armrest, power seat bolsters, and a garage door opener. Blind-spot monitoring is available, as well, but the list of available driver-assist technologies isn't comprehensive.
The DB11 uses an older version of Mercedes' infotainment setup and, while the eight-inch LCD screen is clear and the menus logically arranged, it does feel just half a step behind the latest systems. The system can be ordered with or without a touchpad controller. Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, a Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation, USB audio playback, and iPod/iPhone integration. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are missing, though. Although a 400-watt, nine-speaker audio system is standard, the 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen upgrade is more befitting of the DB11's status.
Last year, the DB11 was recalled for an airbag that may not deploy correctly in the event of an accident. Ironically, back in 2018, the DB11 had a recall for a driver airbag that could inadvertently deploy, leading to a possible crash. For 2020, the DB11 is, so far, recall-free.
Although missing out on complimentary maintenance, the DB11 is covered by a three-year vehicle/powertrain warranty regardless of mileage covered.
As is the case for most high-end GTs, sports cars, and luxury vehicles, local authorities have not evaluated the Aston Martin DB11 Coupe for crashworthiness. Although no official safety rating exists, we don't doubt that this is a safe coupe.
The DB11 is fitted with a full suite of airbags including dual front, front side, and knee airbags, providing comprehensive occupant protection in the event of an accident. Also standard is cruise control with a speed limiter, a 360-degree birds-eye camera, parking sensors front and rear, tire pressure monitoring, LED headlights with daytime running lamps, dynamic stability control, and emergency brake assist. Optional safety features include auto park assist and blind-spot monitoring.
The much-loved Aston Martin DB9 has found a worthy replacement in the form of the DB11. The manufacturer should be applauded for updating the DB11's design with modern styling cues without losing the graceful, effortlessly cool appeal that seems ingrained in every Aston. Inside, too, is an interior that is a welcome step up in quality over its predecessor. Although rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Bentley have the edge for sheer ride comfort and opulence, the DB11 comes across as a less conservative offering; it not only boasts heaps of showroom appeal, but on the road, has the ability to entertain more than its softer competition. The DB11 also proves that although a brand new model may not be perfect at launch, those flaws can be ironed out - the 2020 DB11 is a much-improved dynamic performer over the initial versions launched a few years ago. Downsides include tiny rear seats, an infotainment interface that feels outdated, and some driver aids that are expensive extras. But this beautiful GT is a car that'll always guarantee that you turn back to take another look.
The 2020 Aston Martin DB11 Coupe starts off at an MSRP of $198,995 for the V8 variant. Next is the AMR with the V12 engine which increases the outlay to a steep $241,000. These prices exclude options (and remember, there are a plethora of those), taxes, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $3,086.
For 2020, the Aston Martin DB11 Coupe is offered in two flavors: the V8 and the V12 AMR. Both versions are rear-wheel-drive and use an eight-speed automatic transmission. They also share an adaptive damping suspension with GT, Sport, and Sport + modes. Under the hood, the V8 model has a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine with 503 horsepower and 513 lb-ft of torque, while the AMR uses a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 with outputs of 630 hp and 516 lb-ft.
As standard, the V8 gets a Strathmore leather monotone interior with Alcantara headlining, power-adjustable and heated front seats with a memory system, power-folding exterior mirrors, 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, an electronic instrument cluster, and a 400-watt audio system. Driver convenience gear encompasses a 360-degree camera system, front/rear parking sensors, and keyless entry/go.
Moving up to the AMR introduces 20-inch alloy wheels with a unique forged finish, a Caithness leather interior, carbon side strakes, darkened tailpipe finishers, carbon blades on the hood, and door sill plaques with an embedded AMR logo.
To detail each one of the DB11's optional extras would fill more pages than is practical. Rest assured that the sky's the limit for fussy buyers without concern for how much things cost. Last year's prices should give you an idea of what to expect when ticking boxes on the DB11, starting with the Technology Plus Package at $9,090 - this adds auto park assist, blind-spot monitoring, the touchpad controller for the infotainment system, and the upgraded Bang & Olufsen audio system. We recommend the Comfort Package at a comparatively affordable $2,780 as it includes powered seat bolsters, a heated steering wheel, and heated/ventilated front seats. The Dark Chrome Interior Jewelry Pack goes for $1,595 and the Dark Exterior Finisher Pack adds black finishes to the outside for $3,190.
Standalone options include heated/ventilated front seats ($1,595), blind spot monitoring ($750), and the Bang & Olufsen audio system ($8,330).
This is a tricky one to answer because, at over $40,000 less, the V8 model nearly matches the V12's performance and, by virtue of being lighter, is a slightly more athletic handler. On the other hand, little can replicate the novelty of a large V12 power plant. For a couple of reasons, we're going to go with the AMR V12. One, if you can afford the V8 at nearly $200,000, stretching to the V12 shouldn't be a big issue. Two, if you want an exciting British sports car, get the cheaper and more dynamic Vantage. Primarily conceived as a comfortable GT, the V12 fits that description to a tee. We'd equip ours with the Technology Plus Package and the Comfort Package, and leave the bewildering number of color/trim choices up to you.
Not many cars garner as much attention as the DB11, but the Ferrari Portofino qualifies for a place on that abbreviated list. It's a less hardcore product from the house of the prancing horse and is a Ferrari you can genuinely live with every day. A comfortable cabin with 2+2 seating and a similarly-sized trunk to the Aston Martin are examples of this. The Portofino's difference is its retractable hardtop, whereas the DB11 Coupe has a fixed roof. Both cars handle well and have precise steering systems, although both are tuned to provide comfortable grand touring motoring. The Portofino's twin-turbo V8 is more powerful than the DB11's V8, and the Ferrari is even quicker to 60 than the DB11 AMR V12. Inside, the Ferrari has a racier feel than the more luxurious and upscale DB11. Choosing between these two achingly desirable GTs is a foolish exercise and we want no part of it.
Dripping with class, the Bentley Continental doesn't just have the "GT" in its name for show, but is perhaps the epitome of what a grand tourer coupe is all about. There is the large-capacity, unstressed engine in the form of a 626-hp 6.0-liter W12. There's the imposing, grand looks. And there is also one of the most special cabins available in any luxury car. A V8 Continental GT is also available and, overall, the Aston and the Bentley provide remarkably similar acceleration runs. On the road, the two deviate a bit more, and a lot of it comes down to weight: the base Continental GT is nearly 900 lbs heavier than the base DB11. As a result, the Aston Martin feels like the nimbler car here. But the Bentley fights back with supreme ride refinement and smoothness. The GT also has a larger trunk and the edge for quality. If you want a traditional GT coupe that feels like a majestic palace, get the Bentley. If you want your GT to have a bit more dynamic sparkle in its blood, go for the Aston.
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