Full 2008 Aston Martin DBS Review
What's New for 2008
The DBS is Aston Martin's all-new flagship for 2008.
James Bond has had some questionable rides over the years. An AMC Hornet, Lincoln Mark VII and a Ford LTD have all brought disgrace to an automotive reputation that has otherwise been exemplary. Yet in "Casino Royale," the starring 2008 Aston Martin DBS is not only worthy, but it essentially serves as a metaphor for the film's unconventional, less polished take on the Bond legend. "A tough guy in a dinner suit" is how the DBS's designer Marek Reichman describes his creation.
The DBS is a modified version of Aston's already highly desirable DB9. Like Daniel Craig's muscular, tuxedo-clad Bond, the DBS is strikingly handsome, yet its bulging fenders and more chiseled fascia give the impression that it can kick your teeth in if you challenge it. A 510-horsepower V12 (a 60-hp increase) lurks under its sculpted carbon-fiber hood, and with a curb weight of only 3,737 pounds (143 less than the DB9's), the DBS can hit 60 mph in about 4 seconds flat. It also makes gloriously intimidating sounds. Press the sapphire crystal key fob into its dashboard slot and listen with glee as the engine spins and roars to life, like the crack of a whip engaging an avalanche. That avalanche returns anytime the driver dives into the ample power band -- yet the engine and exhaust thankfully remain civil when cruising.
While the DBS is clearly a tough guy, there's more to the "dinner suit" part than its styling. The interior is simply stunning, swathed in leather, Alcantara and subtle accent trim of aluminum, carbon fiber and piano black. Unlike the DB9, the DBS accommodates only two people, but they will be surprisingly comfortable over long journeys with seats that strike a brilliant balance between comfort and support. Road trip comfort is also aided by a surprisingly compliant suspension, considering the car's sporting nature.
When it comes to the exotic market segment, each model usually chisels out its own niche, making direct comparisons difficult. The Bentley Continental GT Speed provides performance and British prestige similar to that of the DBS, but it's designed to offer a greater degree of opulent comfort than visceral performance. For an entirely different flavor, Ferrari's fiery 599 Fiorano offers superior performance and handling, while the 612 Scaglietti is fairly even with the DBS on paper. There are a few other contenders (including Aston's own DB9), but in the end, though, this type of purchase is all about preference and irrational emotion.
Of course, there's certainly nothing more irrational than a brand associated with bumper-mounted rockets and ejector seats. However, Aston Martin is also a brand known for producing cars that are achingly beautiful and wildly powerful. The 2008 Aston Martin DBS deservedly takes a place inside James Bond's garage, and we have no doubt that in the real world, Aston's newest flagship will make a fine addition for those with the financial means.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Aston Martin DBS exotic sports car's standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, an electronically adjustable suspension, carbon ceramic disc brakes, xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding outside mirrors, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat with memory settings, a four-way power passenger seat, a tilt-telescoping steering column, heated seats and leather and Alcantara upholstery. Also standard is automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a battery deactivation switch, Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system and a premium sound system with in-dash six-CD changer and iPod integration.
Major options include satellite radio, a graphite-color finish for the wheels, piano black interior trim and special-order exterior colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The Aston Martin DBS is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 that produces 510 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission available. Aston Martin estimates the DBS will accelerate from "naught" to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds, meaning it's a good bet it'll get to 60 mph on our test track in close to 4 seconds flat.
The DBS comes with a fair amount of safety equipment for a supercar. Stability and traction control are standard, along with antilock carbon ceramic brakes. Side airbags and parking sensors front and rear are also standard.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like all Aston Martins, the DBS is one of the finest examples of interior craftsmanship. It's difficult to find a surface not covered in soft leather or Alcantara faux suede. Subtle carbon-fiber trim lines areas of the doors, while tasteful alloy trim and must-have optional piano-black trim adorn the center console. The elegant key fob (or Emotion Control Unit) that seamlessly slides into the dash is partly made from sapphire crystal.
The DBS's interior represents the next generation of Aston Martin design. While much is similar to the DB9 and V8 Vantage, the center stack controls have been cleaned up to produce a classier and more user-friendly design. Easily deciphered buttons combine with a central LCD screen layout borrowed from Volvo to create a more user-friendly and better-looking interface than those found in the "lesser" Astons. Still, we wish they had ditched the metallic electroluminescent gauges. Not only do the speedometer and tachometer strangely rotate in opposite directions (the tach goes the wrong way) but the speedo features such a huge range of numbers that it's rendered practically useless. Luckily, the driver can select a digital speedometer in the prominent trip computer display.
The 2008 Aston Martin DBS is striking for how easy it is to drive. The clutch is light and short in travel, while the shifter snick-snicks through the gates with precision. The steering is light and the cabin's decent visibility makes it less onerous feeling than some other exotics. Not only is it easy to handle, it's also surprisingly comfortable. Although the ride is firmer than the DB9's, the DBS is never punishing.
The DBS may be easy and comfortable, but with 520 hp flowing to the rear wheels of a 3,737-pound sport coupe, it is a car that must be shown respect. Even a dollop of excessive throttle will get the tail wagging mid-turn, so unless you're a drifting specialist, it's wise to constantly observe the age-old mantra of slow in, fast out. The DBS is also not a canyon carver like a Ferrari 599, as it prefers long, high-speed sweepers to tight hairpins. In either setting, though, that light steering proves to be a slight detriment, lacking the feel and weight of a Ferrari's or Porsche's steering.