2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera First Look Review: A Brute In A Suit
Combining brute force with Aston looks is a recipe for success.
Let’s take a moment to be thankful that we now live in a world were we can walk into a new car showroom, and drive away in a 700-horsepower car. The base Aston Martin DB11 with its 600-hp 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 isn’t what we’d call slow, but the British automaker decided to take it up a notch with the new DBS Superleggera. Strike that, Aston has taken things up several notches. The 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 now produces a whopping 715 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque, making it an match for almost any car on the market.
Power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission – sorry manual lovers. 0-60 mph takes 3.4 seconds, 0-100 mph takes 6.4 seconds, and the top speed is 211 mph. These numbers are staggeringly quick when examined in a void, but how does the DBS stack up against its rivals? To be frank, there aren’t too many luxury coupes that can hold a candle to the Aston. The now out-of-production Bentley Continental Super Sports was close with a 700 hp twin-turbo W12, matching the Superleggera’s 0-60 time and hitting a top speed of 209 mph. A Super Sports version of the new Continental will arrive eventually, but nothing is confirmed.
With the Bentley out of contention, there are very few luxury cars that can match the Aston’s performance. Sure, a Porsche 911 GT2 RS is faster, but we wouldn’t call it a comfortable GT car. To find competitors for the DBS, we have to look below the realm of exotics and examine some of the “normal” luxury automakers, and even a few domestics. First, we have to consider the Mercedes S63 AMG coupe. We recently tested the convertible, and managed a 0-60 mph run of 3.3 seconds (that’s faster than DBS’ estimated time). Even though the AMG is down over 100 hp on the Aston, it’s able to keep up thanks to all-wheel-drive grip.
So if all you care about is 0-60 performance, and you don’t need the added prestige of the Aston Martin badge, you could save over $100,000 buying an S63. Likewise, if luxury is less of a concern, you could opt for one of the 700-plus hp domestic cars: the Corvette ZR1 and Dodge Hellcat. Like the GT2 RS, the ZR1 will easily outperform the DBS, though it will fall flat on its face as a luxury experience. The Dodge Challenger Hellcat offers close to the same power as the DBS for a fraction of the price, though we shouldn’t have to explain that the materials Aston Martin uses in the interior put the Dodge to shame.
While the S63 comes close, the DBS only really has one car to worry about: the Ferrari 812 Superfast. Not only can the Ferrari match the Aston on quality and prestige, it is powered by a 6.5-liter V12 producing 789 hp and 530 lb-ft of torque. Though it lacks the tiny backseat found in the DBS, the 812 makes up for it with a quicker 2.8 second 0-60 time, a 7.9 second 0-124 time, and a matching top speed of 211. The Ferrari does cost around $30,000 more than the Aston, but what’s another $30,000 to someone who is already spending over $300,000? The Ferrari is therefore a very close competitor, but even it has some drawbacks.
Though the Ferrari has a very nice interior, it can not match the elegance found in the Aston. The DBS features some of the most unique leather stitching we have ever seen on a car interior, and the performance-oriented layout of the 812 just isn’t as elegant. We also mentioned the rear seat in the DBS. Of course, the back seat isn’t huge, but it may make a difference if the purpose for buying the car is to cruise around with friends or family. As a luxury gran tourer, the new DBS Superleggera seems tough to beat. Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman describes the DBS as a “brute in a suit,” and we certainly agree.
We said that the standard V12 DB11 isn’t exactly slow, but it does lack a certain panache that the DB9 had. Perhaps that is why so soon into the DB11’s life cycle, it has already been upgraded with the 630 hp DB11 AMR. We aren’t saying the DB11 isn’t fast, just not as exciting as we initially hoped. In terms of speed, the 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 feels like a fighter jet compared to the old 5.9-liter V12, which was more like a propeller plane. Still, the old engine would sing a glorious V12 song, while the new turbo unit simply sounds adequate at best. We hope that Aston can take it up few notches with the DBS, and force that turbo V12 to sing.
The DBS features a new active valve exhaust with quad pipes, which is said to deliver “commanding and powerful sound character” while still maintaining the refinement of a grand tourer. This should help it sound a bit livelier, while reduced weight and stiffer suspension should make it feel more giddy from behind the wheel. Hopefully we’ll get a turn behind the wheel of the new DBS Superleggera, to see how well it lives up to the “brute in a suit” moniker.