Portrait of Tammy Strobel


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BEAUTIFUL TO BEHOLD AND DYNAMIC TO DRIVE, Aston Martins have always been the quintessential gentleman’s driving machine and the ‘Grandaddy’ of all grand touring cars. The stunning new DB11 only solidifies that reputation. 

The model succeeds the DB9 as the latest figurehead of the iconic DB series named after former owner Sir David Brown, a bloodline that has spanned nearly 70 years and given us such iconic cars as the DB5 popularised in several James Bond films, starting with Goldfinger in 1964. 

The DB 11 also represents a new chapter in Aston Martin’s illustrious history – dating back to 1913 – as the first car released in the company’s new ‘Second Century’ plan, which promises a flurry of new cars over the coming years. 

Even though the DB11 is a completely new car from bumper to bumper, the familiar lines remain unmistakably Aston Martin and are visually an evolution rather than a revolution. 

It is a truly beautiful car. The proportions and details remain elegant and classy while also being modern and contemporary, and the tasteful designs now also play a fully functional role. 

The dynamic side streaks, for example, channel a vortex of air from the front wheel along the side of the car and in through a duct situated above the C pillar at the rear windows. 

This forms part of the ‘air-blade’ system where air is then ducted through the car and out via a vent at the rear, creating downforce and high-speed stability, doing away with the need for unsightly spoilers and wings. 

Another beautiful piece of design engineering is the one-piece aluminium clamshell hood, which envelopes the entire front of the car and houses the familiar Aston Martin grille that feeds air to the heart and soul of this beautiful beast. 

The interior is also pure Aston Martin, with quality leather and metal throughout, although I do have a gripe regarding some of the familiar-looking controls and switches courtesy of Mercedes. Personally, I think that marques such as Aston Martin should insist on being unique in every detail. 

The placement of the infotainment display also looks as if someone has left their tablet computer there. Situated on rather than in the dash, it looks like an afterthought. 

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However, the cabin oozes with quality and is an extremely nice environment to be in. The two-plus-two layout feels open and airy and is supremely comfortable – even for my near two-metre stature. 

There’s not much storage space in here, though, as there isn’t any glovebox. Instead, there are two pockets in each of the doors and a generous centre/arm console which, by way of a pull switch, slides open electronically rather than by the manual ‘lift and click’. 

Aside from the clever aerodynamics and the drop-dead gorgeous looks, the real song and dance is to be found up front, under that clamshell hood. At the epicentre lies a colossal 5.2-litre, twin-turbo V12 engine producing 600bhp and an amazing 516lb-ft of torque. 

The DB11 does 0-60mph in a face-wrenching 3.9s with an overall top speed of 200mph, substantially better figures than the DB9. 

This traditional mix of huge power, comfort, style and sportiness means that all Aston Martins are driver’s cars and can tackle almost any driving situation, be it a sprint to the shops, a blast around the mountain bends or cruising across continents. 

Hong Kong’s roads are not ideal to really test a vehicle, but they did give me a chance to experience some of the sensations of the DB11. 

First – and most important in my view – is the sound of that beautiful V12 engine. A push button on the centre console awakens this sleeping giant with a delicious roar followed by a gravelly rumble as it settles back down to idle, a symphony of sound which is, again, unmistakably Aston Martin. 

The ride quality at normal speeds is engaging yet sedate and with all electronic controls set at the least-aggressive GT mode, the car feels light and extremely easy to drive, making it easy to forget all that intimidating power at your toes. 

The next step up from GT mode is Sport – this is where it gets interesting – and this is followed by the Sport+. 

My limited test drive revealed little difference between the Sport modes, but the difference from GT to Sport was quite marked. Firstly, the dynamics of the suspension changes completely, making the car feel taut and well planted on the road.

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Further adjustments can be made to the suspension by way of a selector on the steering wheel. However, I felt no temptation to play with any of the controls as the grand tourer proved it can eat up corners as well as most supercars.

The delivery of power is much more violent and the new ZF gearbox and mechanical rear differential do an excellent job of translating all that power through the rear wheels and on to the road.

On a few reckless occasions, I did manage to test the traction-control system, which works very well to contain this beast. It’s a good idea to keep this on while playing with this kind of power in someone else’s car.

Most importantly for me, once again, is the noise from the angry V12. Pushing your foot sharply to the floor in Sport mode not only instantly re-arranges your internal organs but produces an almost indescribably beautiful noise experience that could provoke a grin from even the fiercest environmentalist.

The grin would soon disappear, though, as hard driving and a heavy right foot soon prove that a 5.2-litre V12 can be as thirsty as an Irish priest, averaging little better than approximately 17mpg around town and 20mpg while at cruise.

Fortunately, Aston Martin has been very clever with the new V12 engine when it comes to efficiency. While driving gently or on the highway, for example, the new DB is able to completely shut down one bank of cylinders, meaning the big V12 turns into a regular straight 6, drastically improving those mpg statistics.

In conclusion, this DB flagship is yet another sensational car from the UK-based company, which has once again managed to create the ultimate driving machine and wrap it in a masterpiece of automotive art.

Other car marques such as Bentley and Ferrari will endeavour to challenge Aston Martin for the top honours in the GT segment, but with its sheer elegance and supreme driving performance, the DB11 can currently claim to be the new Granddaddy of them all.

Photos Henry Chiu