Aston Martin’s deal with Mercedes-Benz has already seen the DB11 feature electrical components from Merc, but with the DB11 V8, the full fruit of the partnership is being realized. Beneath the svelte 2+2 seat coupe grand tourer’s decidedly Aston Martin styling, there’s not just a Mercedes engine, but an AMG engine – the very same one you’ll find in the AMG C63, E63, and AMG GT amongst other AMG models. Compared to the V12, the V8 saves more than 250 pounds, all off the front axle, but also comes with a reduction in power and torque. But, it might be better off for it…
It may be classified as a 2+2 seat GT car, but the rear seats are unfit for anyone you’d call a friend. Even children on short journeys would bemoan the lack of space. Up front, however, things are a little different – vastly more spacious in a cabin that feels cavernous by class standards – with the exception of a cramped foot well, the price to pay for the longitudinally mounted front engine and transmission tunnel. The front engine configuration also affords a small, but decent 10 cubic feet of cargo space out back.The interior is clad in rich, luxuriant leathers and fine finishes, decorative quilting on leather upholstered sports seats. The let-down is the button-quality on the large leather steering wheel; that and the Mercedes-Benz touchpad above the infotainment controller wheel. It’s hardly the best thing to use in a Merc, let alone an Aston Martin.
The DB11 is first and foremost a GT car. Comfort comes standard, even in the firmest of adaptive damper settings. The thorough suspension tuning makes the DB11 truly cross-country comfortable. That doesn’t come at the expense of handling prowess though. Body-roll, although well controlled, is marginally still present, though more than 200 pounds less weight in the nose of the DB11 V8 has a notable effect on reducing this to sporting levels of front end directness. The steering feels light and direct, the front end keen and agile. Factor in slightly stiffer rear suspension and torque-vectoring, and the DB11 V8 pivots around a central point, the cockpit. The comfort of a GT meets the dynamism and balance of a true sports car, the DB11’s large proportions shrinking around the driver through curvaceous mountain roads. As it turns out, losing 4 cylinders has sharpened the DB11 and honed it into a fine handling machine.
Bearing the full fruits of the Mercedes-Aston partnership, the DB11 V8 features Mercedes-AMG’s M178 engine. The 4.0-liter V8 features two turbochargers in a ‘hot-in-the-vee’ configuration to improve throttle response. Aston has revised the exhaust to give it a more Aston Martin-like character to go with the 503 horsepower and 498 lb-ft of torque – down 97hp and 18 lb-ft on the V12. Power is directed to the rear wheels via the excellent ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic gearbox – though the tuning could be a little sharper. Performance losses are only minimal from V12 to V8, 0-62mph now taking just 4 seconds dead before stretching on to a top speed of 186mph.
Visually, the DB11 V8 differs little from the V12, featuring dark headlamp bezels, a unique alloy wheel finishes and 2 hood vents rather than 4. The rest of the specification remains the same, meaning you get the same heated power adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, 360-degree park cameras, and rear park sensors all standard. Ventilated seats and Bang & Olufsen audio are available as optional extras. In the way of safety, features include ABS brakes with EBD, airbags, and an intuitive multi-stage stability control system that allows enjoyable levels of play before reigning the DB11 back in.
It was a case of high risk and evern higher reward when Aston decided to equip the DB11 with a Mercedes-AMG V8, but the gamble has paid dividends! The DB11 still boasts GT car appeal, but now it has sports car handling that’s second to none.