Full 2013 Aston Martin DB9 Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Aston Martin DB9 receives a significant refresh. The styling has been subtly updated, the engine and chassis greatly revised, and the adaptive suspension borrowed from the short-lived Virage.
For years now we've waxed poetically about the Aston Martin DB9, extolling creative metaphors and grand adjectives upon its timeless beauty. Sure, we've always been quick to point out its many other automotive merits as well, but when you really boil it down, it was the DB9's looks that have made us fawn, ogle and drool. Yet in the car world, everything must move on, and the 2013 Aston Martin DB9 represents this beauty's first significant overhaul.
Fear not, however, for this is Aston Martin we're talking about and a "significant overhaul" is a very relative term. It involves new headlights, a slight resculpting of the front airdam, borrowing the higher rear lip spoiler from the discontinued DBS, and the oh-so-shocking redesign of the traditional fender vent that had largely gone unchanged since before the days of Sean Connery in Goldfinger. Instead of the silver trim piece bisecting the center of the vent, it now runs along the top just as it did in last year's Virage. The Aston Martin faithful may not be pleased.
This isn't just a face-lift, though; there are indeed a huge number of noteworthy changes under the skin. Several carry over from the now defunct Virage and DBS, including the adaptive suspension and carbon-ceramic brakes. However, the DB9 moves beyond its departing siblings with the latest, fourth generation of Aston Martin's aluminum "VQ" platform. It is stiffer than before and, in conjunction with the adaptive suspension, results in improved ride and handling characteristics.
Perhaps most importantly, the 2013 DB9 is powered by Aston Martin's latest, more sophisticated 5.9-liter V12 good for 510 horsepower. For those keeping score at home, that's the same output as the old DBS, which cost about $100,000 more than the previous DB9. In that way, and only in that way, the new DB9 is a screaming value. As before, only a six-speed automatic transmission is offered, so manual lovers will have to accept the paddle shifters or shop the used car classifieds.
The cabin is the one area where the DB9 carries over unchanged, which is to its detriment. It's still attractive, comfortable and swathed in buttery-soft leather, but some of the switchgear feels like it belongs to a much cheaper car and the electronics are woefully behind the times. Though still a lovely interior, cross-shopping a 2013 Bentley Continental GT will quickly reveal the contrast in materials, craftsmanship and interior space.
Yet the DB9 is far more dynamic to drive than its British rival, while still being comfortable enough to drive from Miami to Los Angeles without making your butt go numb, your ears ring or your luggage remain at home. The same cannot be said for other exotic sports cars. For even though a lot has changed for the better, the 2013 Aston Martin DB9 maintains those virtues that made it such a truly special GT car ? except perhaps the fender vents.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Aston Martin DB9 is available as a coupe or a soft-top convertible known as the Volante. Both come with a 2+2 seating arrangement. The coupe has an option to replace the rear vestigial seats with a more useful storage area.
Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, performance tires, a three-mode adjustable and adaptive suspension, carbon-ceramic disc brakes, bi-xenon headlights, power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic climate control, heated power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger, including memory functions), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full leather interior, a trunk-mounted umbrella, a battery deactivation switch (for extended parking), Bluetooth phone connectivity, a Garmin navigation system and a premium audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB input and an iPod interface. The Volante gets a fully powered soft top and a wind deflector.
Options include different wheels, a rearview camera, sport seats (six-way power adjustment, not heated, requires the front-seat-only configuration) and a Bang & Olufsen 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. There are also plentiful interior trim types and leather hues available.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Aston Martin DB9 is powered by a 5.9-liter V12 (Aston labels it a 6.0) good for 510 hp and 457 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential are all standard. Aston Martin says the coupe will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, while the heavier Volante should be slightly slower. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg combined (13 city/19 highway).
Every 2013 DB9 includes standard antilock carbon-ceramic disc brakes, stability and traction control, and front side airbags that protect the head and torso. Front and rear parking sensors are also included, while a rearview camera is optional. The Volante gets standard automatically deploying rollover bars.
Interior Design and Special Features
It's difficult to find a surface in the DB9 that's not covered in soft leather, while veneer, alloy trim and even sapphire crystal fill in the blanks. Any complaints we may level below are often easy to ignore because of all this pampering beauty.
In terms of functionality, easily deciphered buttons combine with a central screen to create fairly simple and user-friendly audio and climate controls. However, Aston Martin trails other luxury carmakers' in-car electronics, so technophiles may find the cabin antiquated. The Garmin-sourced navigation system in particular may be an improvement over Aston's horrible old one, but it still feels out of place in such an expensive car.
The DB9 proves its road trip worthiness thanks to a driver seat that's marvelously comfortable, with ample leg- and headroom for even taller drivers. The four-way power passenger seat unfortunately doesn't offer the same amount of adjustability or comfort. The two rear seats are glorified parcel shelves, so we suggest opting for the actual parcel shelves that are optional on the coupe. The trunk is generously sized for an exotic sports car and has enough room for a set of golf clubs and a suitcase. On the other hand, the Volante suffers more wind buffeting than other convertibles.
If you're cross-shopping within the Aston Martin garage, get ready to hear many of the same old descriptions. The 2013 Aston Martin DB9 is surprisingly easy to drive, with decent outward visibility and a traditional automatic transmission that delivers smooth shifts without the jerkiness associated with fancier automated manuals. Selecting the Sport setting noticeably increases throttle response and shift speed, and allows gears to be held manually all the way to redline without automatically upshifting.
The car is also quite comfortable, with supportive, heated seats and a compliant ride quality. The suspension automatically adapts to road conditions with three driver-selectable modes that result in both a better ride (that is nevertheless quite firm) and sharper handling that's less prone to pavement imperfections. The electric-assist steering is precise, and the car's idealized weight balance assures neutral handling. As for the engine, it provides a thrilling experience of abundant power accompanied by the glorious song of a wailing V12.