Aston Martin insiders have nicknamed the new range-topping DBS Superleggera their ‘brute in a suit’. And brutish it most certainly is – with 725-horsepower delivering a 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds, 0-100mph in 6.4 seconds, and a 211mph top speed.
They also call it the ‘rogue’, and it most certainly is that.
Video: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Considered by Aston Martin to be a range-topping super GT, the firm is using the launch of the DBS Superleggera to draw in Ferrari 812 Superfast buyers – it’s a car the design team considers a genuinely compelling alternative to a car from Maranello (with, as we’ll see, the price tag to match).
Finally replacing the ageing Aston Martin Vanquish S, and sitting above the Vantage and DB11, the DBS Superleggera uses the firm’s latest aluminium architecture, derived from the DB11. Director of design Miles Nürnberger insists, however, it is not just a beefed up DB11, but is a bespoke creation. “Every modern Aston Martin must have its own unique character.”
This has been achieved, he says, by giving the new DBS Superleggera an aggressive full-height grille (“you’ll definitely see it coming in your rear-view mirror”), pumped-up features to give a greater physical presence, and rear haunches a full 15mm wider than the DB11 to “exaggerate the feeling of muscle”.
And the name? DBS is the revival of a nameplate first used in 1967, while Superleggera is a nod to classic Italian coachbuilder Touring, whose Superleggera script (it means superlight, in honour of its famed lightweight construction methods) appears on the bonnet. “DBS Superleggera not only marks the return of a great Aston Martin name, but signals our return to the very pinnacle of the super GT sector,” said Aston Martin president and CEO Dr Andy Palmer.
“Handsome beyond measure, immaculately styled, obsessively engineered and outrageously potent, the new DBS Superleggera is every inch the Aston Martin flagship.” And is duly priced accordingly: from £225,000 in the UK, €274,995 in Europe, and $304,995 in North America. Deliveries? They begin in autumn 2018.
Now let’s dive into some more of the delicious details within Aston Martin’s new halo car.
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: in detail
The body is made entirely from extruded aluminium clad in carbon fibre, which has helped Aston’s designers achieve some of the extreme styling features, and also help the DBS Superleggera boast the highest carbon content of any road car Aston currently makes. At under 1,700kg, it’s also 72kg lighter than the DB11.
Its engine is suitably brutish. 725hp is delivered at 6500rpm, but it also puts out a massive 900Nm (663lb ft) of torque across a massive 1,800-5,000rpm rev range. The 5.2-litre V12 has two turbos, four camshafts, is entirely made from aluminium, and is ferociously fast in real-world use: 50-75mph in fourth gear takes just 2.2 seconds – from the inside lane to the overtaking lane of a motorway in a couple of heartbeats.
The engine has purposefully been tuned “to deliver maximum performance within the rev window in which most road driving typically occurs… shunning highly-strung, high rev delivery for effortless urgency and crushing overtaking ability”.
It’s so potent, Aston’s had to buy a new, stronger type of eight-speed automatic gearbox from German supplier ZF just to cope with its output.
Needless to say, it sounds the part. Not in normal driving – the car remains subdued in low-load and small accelerator pedal openings, says Aston. It does have some manners. But stick it in Sport and Sport Plus, and a new quad exhaust system increases the exhaust’s level and purity, complete with pops and bangs on overrun. Even the noise at a standstill has been enriched, thanks to a new design of wastegate.
“The term super GT is a relatively new one,” said the firm’s chief technical officer Max Szwaj, but it’s one that’s long been part of Aston DNA. The key to it is that ultra-high torque engine, but the rest of it has been honed to create a “formidable and fabulous machine”.
A double diffuser at the back – like the ones banned in F1 racing – combines with ‘Aeroblade II’ that’s twice the size of the clever aeroblade aperture on the DB11 (and fixed, not retractible) to help it generate a heavyweight 180kg of downforce at its top speed – impressively, without creating any extra drag. “It’s the highest level of downforce for any road-going Aston Martin ever,” chief engineer Matt Becker told us.
“The aero generates 120kg at the rear and 60kg of downforce at the front – this gives it a pinned and planted feel at high speed. You can drive it one-handed, if you wish.” Becker added Aston actually tuned the rear end downforce, to give it the best ‘feel’ at high speed, rather than simply chasing ever-bigger numbers. “It has a different feel [to the DB11] to match the different look.”
The ride is 5mm lower than the DB11, suspension geometry is all-new, the steering delivers more feedback and even the engine mounts have been tuned to improve steering response. There’s also a bigger-than-ever separation between the setup of the three driving modes: from GT, to Sport, and Sport Plus.
Even the wheels are bigger than the DB11. “21-inches don’t fit the DB11: we took the opportunity of creating a new body to go extra-wide and ensure they fitted,” said Nürnberger. Buyers can pick from standard Y-spoke forged rims, or optional lightweight twin-spoke forged wheels with a strong let light structurally-optimised design.
Bespoke Pirelli P-Zero tyres are fitted, 305/30-section on the rear, and they have noise-absorbing foam technology in their sidewalls to boost refinement.
“Every time I drive it, I’m blown away by its raw performance,” added Becker. “It’s explosively quick if you floor the throttle, bit has that relentless, effortless delivery that only a big turbocharged V12 can deliver. While we wanted to create a very, very fast car, it was crucial that it didn’t terrify less experienced driver… we’ve honed the dynamics so that it’s agile and connected, but also linear and progressive as you work towards its limits.”
And if you do panic, 410mm carbon ceramic brakes, gripped by six-piston front calipers, haul it down quickly – Aston’s even revised the master cylinder and booster so the brake pedal travel is shorter, and the feel firmer.
Oh, and because the brakes have a higher thermal capacity, the DBS Superleggera can operate its brake-nibbling Dynamic Torque Vectoring system more often, cornering more precisely and with more agility.
What’s life like inside the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Very plush, with what’s described as “aromatic’ leather and Alcantara upholstery, standard Sports Plus performance seats and complementary steering wheel, and a brace of special Designer Specifications that match bespoke outside finishes with matching ones inside.
Now click the images below to see more of the new 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera…