What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Aston Martin DBS gains a convertible body style known as the Volante. The previously optional Bang & Olufsen sound system is now standard and an Alcantara steering wheel is a new option.
The dormant V12 awakens with a sharp blip and a mighty roar like the crack of a whip releasing an avalanche. You slot the chunky metal gear lever into 1st and unleash the 510 ferocious horses. Your back sinks into the snug Alcantara-swathed seat, your grin widens, the boisterous horns of the James Bond theme blares in your head. The 2010 Aston Martin DBS is as much an experience as it is an automobile.
The DBS is a modified version of Aston's sexy DB9 and is now available in both coupe and Volante convertible body styles for 2010. With its bulging fenders and a more chiseled fascia, the difference between the DB9 and DBS is like pretty boy Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig's tough guy in a dinner jacket -- both compelling in their own way. The differences in performance are similarly subtle. The DBS's V12 produces 40 additional horses, and with carbon-fiber body panels and other weight-saving measures, it can hit 60 mph a half-second quicker. The retuned chassis and steering aren't radically dissimilar to those of the DB9, but all of these small changes add up to a total sports car that is more communicative and thrilling.
Yet, while the DBS's tough guy credentials are clear, the "dinner jacket" bit extends beyond just the handsome styling. The made-to-order interior is adorned in leather, Alcantara and subtle accent trim of aluminum, carbon fiber, piano-black wood and even sapphire crystal. Customers can choose between a pair of vestigial rear seats or more useful parcel shelves that also save some weight. With either, however, two passengers will discover that the DBS lives up to its grand touring description over long journeys, with supportive seats and a suspension tuned to be compliant.
When it comes to exotic sports cars like the DBS, the few models available each command their own particular niche, making direct comparisons pointless. If a Bentley Continental GT Speed, Ferrari 599, Lamborghini Gallardo or Mercedes-Benz SLS also tickle your fancy, there's little apples-to-apples fodder to share. And at these prices, there's little point in dollar-to-dollar comparison, either. But every time you open its "swan doors" and fire that sonorous V12 to life, we're pretty sure the Aston DBS will impress.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Aston Martin DBS is available in coupe and Volante convertible body styles. 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, automatic power-folding outside mirrors, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat with memory functions, a four-way power passenger seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a battery deactivation switch (for long-term disuse), Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod interface. The Volante features a fully powered retractable soft top and tonneau cover.
Major options include different wheel designs, upgraded performance tires, Alcantara steering wheel and satellite radio. There are a number of customization options including piano-black interior trim, full leather upholstery (versus part Alcantara) and special-order paint colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Aston Martin DBS is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 that produces 510 horsepower 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 coupe will accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds, meaning it's a good bet it'll get to 60 mph 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 haven't been any official government crash tests conducted, but if you go by the Bond movie "Casino Royale," you can flip a DBS nine times and allegedly survive. So there's that.
Interior Design and Special Features
As with all Aston Martins, the 2010 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. Unfortunately, Aston also nicked a Volvo navigation system, which is one of the worst on the market.
The gauges are another point of contention even though they look exquisite. Not only do the speedometer and tachometer rotate in opposite directions (the tach goes the wrong way) but the speedo features such a huge range of numbers that you have to rely on the redundant digital readout in the trip computer.
Surprisingly, even tall drivers will find plenty of head- and legroom in the DBS, although the passenger seat annoyingly doesn't adjust for height. Given that the rear seats are only usable for tiny people, we'd stick with the parcel shelves to bolster the coupe's decently sized 9-cubic-foot trunk. The Volante trunk's volume has not been disclosed, though it's a safe bet that it is a bit smaller than the coupe's.
The 2010 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 optional automatic transmission may not be as engaging as the automated manuals found in competitors, but it's also a lot smoother in everyday driving.
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 still 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 keep the stability control turned on. The DBS seems more at home on long, high-speed sweepers than in 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 grand touring comfort and hard-core driving histrionics, the DBS is it.