What's New for 2010
Front parking sensors and automatic power-folding mirrors are now standard on the 2010 Aston Martin DB9.
Styling is subjective and all that, but really, you need to see an oculist if your eyes see the 2010 Aston Martin DB9 as something other than a gorgeous automobile. When the world's automakers finally stop making cars and resort to some sort of hydrogen-powered hover pod, everyone will look back on the DB9 as one of the prettiest cars to ever roam the Earth. So the DB9 is obviously desirable for its looks, but the real question is: What's going on underneath all that pretty?
Well, the DB9 is built on Aston Martin's VH platform that underpins all its vehicles -- it's 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 470-horsepower V12, which propels the DB9 coupe to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. That's certainly not slow, but less costly exotic cars like the Porsche 911 Turbo or Audi R8 5.2 are notably quicker. It definitely won't handle with the tenacity of those cars either.
Even so, the DB9 isn't intended to be the ultimate automotive thrill machine. The DB9 is more of a grand touring car, one that possesses sharp handling yet has a ride comfortable enough to go from Miami to Los Angeles without making your butt go numb and reducing your spine to a garbled mash of vertebrae. The interior's masterful and customizable collection of fine leathers, rich woods and even sapphire crystal make such a trip all the more enjoyable.
Among exotics, its fellow Brit the Bentley Continental GT is the closest competitor to the DB9 in terms of power and character, but even that comparison is a stretch. To a further degree, cars like the Audi R8 5.2, Ferrari California, Maserati GranTurismo, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and Porsche 911 Turbo would appeal to the same sort of high-priced demographic, but all offer vastly different styles and various degrees of ride/handling acumen.
In the end, though, we suspect many buyers will not worry too much that Exotic A is quicker than Exotic B, or even that Exotic G is a better value. They're more likely to care about the style and image each exotic exudes, with the assumption that what's going on underneath all that pretty is a brilliantly engineered car. For the 2010 Aston Martin DB9, that's indeed a safe assumption.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 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 wheels, a limited-slip differential, HID headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, a wind deflector (Volante), automatic power-folding exterior mirrors, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory functions, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a full leather interior, battery disconnect switch (for vehicle storage), Bluetooth, a navigation system and a surround-sound audio system with an iPod interface, satellite radio and a six-CD changer.
The coupe can be equipped with an optional Sport Pack, which adds firmer suspension tuning along with lighter-weight 19-inch wheels. Other options include 20-inch wheels and a Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system. The DB9 is also 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 it's possible to accessorize your DB9 to your velour jumpsuit. Also, the color of almost all interior leather surfaces can be made to order.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive DB9 is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 capable of 470 hp and 443 pound-feet 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 tenths 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 2010 Aston Martin DB9 includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags (that protect the head and torso) and front and rear parking sensors. The Volante 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 earlier DB9s. Still, the navigation system is one of the worst in the business, and we wish Aston would ditch the metallic electroluminescent gauges that strangely rotate in opposite directions (the tach goes the wrong way). The speedometer also has 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 comfort. The two rear seats are glorified parcel shelves, while the trunk offers enough room for a set of golf clubs and a suitcase. The cabin's decent outward visibility makes the DB9 less onerous to drive than some other exotics.
The 2010 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. 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.