Full 2009 Aston Martin DB9 Review
What's New for 2009
The 2009 Aston Martin DB9 is a bit more powerful this year as its 6.0-liter V12 receives a 20-horsepower boost. Other changes include revised suspension tuning (Aston says it's for improved ride quality) and quicker, smoother shifts for the automatic transmission. Torsional rigidity in the DB9 Volante has also been increased. Inside, the DB9 gets the same improved stereo, climate and navigation controls as the DBS, as well as its crystal and stainless steel "emotion control unit" key fob. There's also a sizable price increase.
If there is truth in beauty, then the 2009 Aston Martin DB9 has never told a lie. We try not to focus too intently on styling, but how can you not when a car is so gorgeous it turns knees into Jell-O simply by sitting still? People always say it's what's on the inside that counts. Well, it turns out the DB9's insides are pretty good, but in the end, just being pretty is really all that matters.
Under those sexy lines resides Aston Martin's VH platform, a strong aluminum architecture that manages to keep weight reasonably in check. This in turn allows for greater agility and less taxed acceleration from the 6.0-liter V12, which nevertheless gets a power boost for 2009. Horsepower is up by 20 to 470, and torque is now 443 pound-feet (from 420). Also revised is the optional automatic transmission, which now features smoother low-speed gearchanges, quicker high-speed changes and rev-matching downshifts.
Even so, the DB9 isn't the ultimate automotive thrill machine -- other exotics best it in terms of numbers and outright performance. The DB9 is more of a GT car, one that possesses sharp handling yet is still capable of driving from Miami to Los Angeles without giving the driver chronic back pain. Inside, the DB9 has always been a masterly collection of beautiful leathers, rich woods and other lovely materials. Previously, the center stack controls were a little fiddly and their satin silver finish didn't live up to the rest of the cabin. They've been given the boot for 2009, with the DB9 adopting the same, more ergonomic stereo, climate and navigation controls as the DBS. Another DBS feature that trickles down to the DB9 is the "emotion control unit," or rather the $1,000 key fob made of stainless steel, piano black trim and sapphire crystal that glows red when neatly plugged into the dash.
Among exotics, its fellow Brits the Bentley Continental GT and GT Speed are the closest competitors to the DB9 in terms of power and character, but even that comparison is a stretch. To a further degree, cars like the Mercedes-Benz CL- and SL-Classes, Maserati GranTurismo, Ferrari California, Lamborghini Gallardo or even Audi R8 would appeal to the same sort of high-priced demographic, but all offer vastly different styles and various degrees of handling acumen. But in the end, we suspect many potential buyers will not worry too much that Exotic A is quicker than Exotic B, or that Exotic G has 6 additional yards of Connolly leather. They're more likely to care about the style and image each exotic exudes with the knowledge that it's going to drive brilliantly anyway. For that, the 2009 Aston Martin DB9 is sinfully beautiful and endlessly classy. And that's no lie.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Aston Martin DB9 is a 2+2-seat luxury GT available in coupe and convertible body styles. The convertible is known as the Volante. Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, rear parking sensors, a wind deflector (Volante), power-folding exterior mirrors, a tilt and telescoping steering column, a full leather interior, automatic climate control, power and heated front seats with driver memory settings, a battery deactivation button (for vehicle storage), Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system, and a premium stereo with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and iPod control. Optional on the coupe is the Sport Pack, which adds firmer suspension tuning along with lighter-weight 19-inch wheels.
The DB9 is highly customizable, especially when it comes to exterior paint. There's a rather large selection of colors to choose from (including Volante roof colors), plus you can request any paint code Aston Martin or any other manufacturer has ever used. You can match your car to a sample -- meaning your DB9 and velour jumpsuit can be twinsies. Also, the color of almost all interior leather surfaces can be made to order.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2009 Aston Martin DB9 is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 capable of 470 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters are available. With either transmission or body style, acceleration is prodigious. According to Aston Martin, both manual- and automatic-equipped coupes go from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The heavier convertible is a few ticks slower. In case you care, fuel economy with the automatic is 12 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
Safety equipment on the 2009 DB9 includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags (that protect head and torso) and rear parking sensors. Front parking sensors are optional. The Volante convertible comes standard with automatically deploying rollover hoops.
Interior Design and Special Features
It's difficult to find a surface in the DB9 that's not covered in soft leather, while wood, piano black, alloy trim and even sapphire crystal fill in the blanks. Easily deciphered buttons combine with a central LCD screen to create a more-user-friendly and better-looking interface than that of last year's DB9. Still, we wish they had ditched the metallic electroluminescent gauges that strangely rotate in opposite directions (the tach goes the wrong way) and feature a speedometer with such a huge range and tiny numbers that it's rendered practically useless. Luckily, there's a digital speedometer in the trip computer.
The driver seat is marvelously comfortable, with ample leg- and headroom for taller drivers. Unfortunately, the four-way power passenger seat doesn't offer the same amount of adjustability and therefore comfort. The two rear seats are glorified partial shelves, while the trunk offers enough room for a set of golf clubs and a suitcase. The cabin's decent visibility makes it less onerous feeling than some other exotics.
The 2009 Aston Martin DB9 is striking for how easy it is to drive. The clutch is light and short in travel, and the shifter snicks through the gates with precision. The automatic transmission is remarkably smooth, and its manual-mode paddle shifts are quick and now feature rev-matching downshifts. The steering is light and precise, although don't expect Ferrari accuracy and feel. As exotic GTs go, the DB9 is generally exhilarating to drive, as it changes direction easily and responds smartly to steering and braking inputs. Best of all, it still manages to offer a compliant ride that makes it one of the few exotic sports cars you'd look forward to driving cross country.
Still, driving enthusiasts should note that the DB9 Volante's less rigid body not only makes it jiggle over rough surfaces but also forces it to have a softer suspension, making it more of a boulevard cruiser. Enthusiasts interested in the coupe should make sure they specify the Sports Pack option, as it exhibits better steering feel, sharper turn-in response and better ride control over midcorner bumps.