Full 2011 Aston Martin DBS Review
What's New for 2011
Most DBS center-console switchgear is now made of glass. The tire-pressure monitoring system and the Bluetooth microphone have also been improved.
The V12 erupts with a sharp blip and a mighty roar like the crack of a whip igniting a volcano. You slot the chunky metal gear lever into 1st and unleash the 510 ferocious horses. Your back sinks into the snug suede-swathed seat and the boisterous horns of the James Bond theme blare in your head over the thunder from beneath the carbon-fiber hood. If this ever got old, it would be time to give away everything and pursue a higher plane of existence.
Now before we get any further into the superlatives, let's get to the nuts and bolts of the matter. The 2011 Aston Martin DBS is a modified version of the sexy Aston Martin DB9, and while the DBS and DB9 are certainly similar in appearance, a longer look will reveal the DBS's bulging fenders, additional air vents and more chiseled fascia. It's like comparing ruggedly handsome Daniel Craig to pretty boy Pierce Brosnan. Each is certainly compelling in its own way -- the cars, we mean -- but our preference is for toughness.
The differences don't end with styling. The DBS's 6.0-liter V12 produces 40 horsepower more than the DB9's, and thanks to its lightweight carbon-fiber body panels and other weight-saving measures, it can hit 60 mph about a half-second quicker. The retuned chassis and steering aren't all that different from the DB9's, but subtle changes have made the DBS a more communicative driving machine.
However, the DBS is more than just something to drive that makes pretty noises. The made-to-order interior is adorned with leather and faux suede, plus accents of aluminum, carbon fiber, piano-black wood and, for 2011, glass for the buttons of the center console. Customers can choose between a pair of vestigial rear seats or more useful parcel shelves that also trim 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 two-mode adjustable suspension.
A Bentley Continental GT Speed, Ferrari California and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG will also deliver grand performances of automotive theatre, and some will cost less, so it all boils down to what sort of exotic car experience you're looking for. But we can guarantee that every time you open the swan-style doors and awaken that slumbering V12, the 2011 Aston Martin DBS will certainly feel special.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Aston Martin DBS is available in coupe and convertible (DBS Volante) body styles. Two seats are standard, although you can have the standard rear parcel shelves replaced by two tiny seats as an option.
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, leather/faux suede upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a hard-drive-based navigation system and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system with an in-dash six-CD changer, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod interface. The Volante convertible features a fully powered soft top and hard tonneau cover.
Major options include different wheel designs, upgraded performance tires, a suede-trimmed steering wheel and satellite radio. There are a number of customization options including piano-black interior trim, full leather upholstery and special-order paint colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 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 shift paddles on the steering wheel is optional. Aston Martin estimates the DBS coupe will accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds.
The 2011 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
The interior of the 2011 DBS is one of the finest examples of English craftsmanship. It's difficult to find a surface not covered in soft leather or faux suede. Subtle carbon-fiber trim lines areas of the doors, while tasteful alloy trim and optional piano-black trim (a must-have) adorn the center console.
For 2011, most of the buttons on the center console are fashioned from glass, which is certainly a swanky touch, while the layout of those buttons, with its central LCD, is adapted from Volvo and is a user-friendly and attractive interface. The same can't be said for the navigation system, which is finicky to use.
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 spins counter-clockwise), but also 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.
The 2011 Aston Martin DBS is surprisingly easy to drive. The clutch effort is light and the pedal travel is short, while the shift lever for the manual transmission 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.
Of course, the 510 hp flowing to the rear wheels of this 3,737-pound coupe means the DBS is still a car that must be shown respect. Even a dollop of excessive throttle will get the tail wagging in the corners. The DBS seems more at home on long, high-speed sweepers than in tight hairpins. In either setting, though, the steering seems a bit light. If you want a balance between grand touring comfort and hard-core driving histrionics, the DBS is it.