Full 2009 Aston Martin DBS Review
What's New for 2009
The Aston Martin DBS adds three key options for 2009: a six-speed automatic transmission, rear seats and a Bang & Olufsen stereo.
The dormant 2009 Aston Martin DBS fires up and comes alive, its ferocious 510-horsepower V12 awakening with a sharp blip and a mighty roar like the crack of a whip inciting an avalanche. Your grin widens; your eyes glow. The boisterous horns of the James Bond theme blare in your head. If this ever got old, it would be time to sell everything off and pursue a higher calling.
The DBS is a modified version of Aston's sexy DB9, with bulging fenders and a more chiseled fascia that give the impression that it can kick your teeth in if you challenge it. The difference between the two is like pretty boy Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig's tough guy in a dinner jacket, yet both appeal in their own way. A 510-hp V12 (a 40-hp increase) lurks under the DBS's lightweight carbon-fiber hood, and with a curb weight of only 3,737 pounds (143 less than the DB9), it can hit 60 mph in about 4 seconds. The handling is slicker and the entire car feels more like a dedicated driving machine.
Yet, while the DBS is clearly a tough guy, there's more to the "dinner jacket" than its styling. The interior is swathed in made-to-order leather, Alcantara and subtle accent trim of aluminum, carbon fiber and/or piano-black wood. For 2009, the DBS can be optioned with a pair of vestigial rear seats that replace the standard rear parcel shelves. With either rear setup, the DBS is really intended for two people who'll be surprisingly comfortable over long journeys, with front seats that strike a brilliant balance between comfort and support. Road trip comfort is also aided by a surprisingly compliant suspension given the car's sporting nature.
When it comes to the exotic segment, the few models available each chisel out their own particular niche, making direct comparisons pointless. If a Bentley Continental GT Speed, Ferrari 599 Fiorano, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti or Lamborghini Gallardo also tickle your fancy, there's little apples-to-apples fodder to share. Having said that, Aston's own DB9 is much cheaper and offers nearly as much performance as the DBS. In the end, it all depends on how much money you want to spend and what type of exotic automotive experience you desire. When it comes to the 2009 Aston Martin DBS, it's expensive, but it's hard to imagine being disappointed by the sights and sounds of this truly unique automotive experience.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Aston Martin DBS sports car comes in one body style (a convertible arrives next model year). Two seats are standard, with a pair of rear parcel shelves that can be replaced by two tiny optional seats. Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, an electronically adjustable suspension, carbon-ceramic 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 front seats, leather and Alcantara upholstery, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a battery deactivation switch (for long-term disuse), Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system and a premium stereo with in-dash six-CD changer and iPod integration.
Major options include the rear seats, forged aluminum wheels (versus heavier cast aluminum), satellite radio and an incredible 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system. There are a number of customization options, including piano black interior trim and special-order paint colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 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 transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic with paddle shifter manual mode is optional. 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 an exotic sports car. Stability and traction control are standard, along with antilock carbon-ceramic disc brakes. Side airbags and front and rear parking sensors are standard. There are no side curtain airbags. "Casino Royale" showed you can flip a DBS nine times and allegedly survive, but there haven't been any official government crash tests conducted as of yet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like all Aston Martins, the 2009 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. When it comes to controls, easily deciphered buttons combine with a central LCD screen layout borrowed from Volvo to create a user-friendly and attractive interface. The gauges are a different story. 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, you have to rely on the redundant digital readout in the trip computer.
Surprisingly, space is quite good in the DBS. Even tall drivers will find plenty of head- and legroom, although the passenger seat annoyingly doesn't adjust for height. When so equipped, the rear seats are only usable for tiny people. We'd stick with the parcel shelves to bolster the decently sized 9-cubic-foot trunk.
The 2009 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 feel less onerous 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 510 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 or Porsche's steering. If you want a balance between comfort and hard-core driving histrionics, the DBS is it.