When I talk about cars, the fact that I’m a massive Aston Martin fan is unavoidable. I’ve walked the factory floor, met the folks restoring and modifying rare vintage Astons of yesteryear and spent days upon days with the people behind the brand. Moreover, I talk about driving the cars — the thrills of a handbuilt car care countless — making special note of the V12-powered DB11 released earlier this year. It’s sublime; an aggressive yet stately, sporting grand tourer with the heart of a demon and the looks of an angel. The new DB11 I’ve just driven in Spain is mostly the same, only it’s lost a lot of weight and drives as though it has mainlined methamphetamines.
First, the numbers, because they tell the raw story. Relative to my V12 dream, the new V8 is, of course, down four cylinders — this alone makes for a truly massive difference in how the car performs. The V8 weighs just over 250 pounds less than the twelver; the entire curb weight of the V8 slots in just over 3,750 pounds. So, the V8 DB11 is much lighter — just imagine how much faster you’d move if you suddenly lost 250 pounds.
The weight savings translates to more than just straight line hustle because physics is more than just speed. Weight distribution — perhaps one of the more underappreciated car statistics available — shifts ever so slightly in the new version of the car. “Perfect” front/rear distribution is, of course, 50/50, with equal weight in front and back of the car. The heavier DB11 V12 was biased toward the front just barely, with a 51/49 distribution front/rear. The V8’s diet has translated into a reversal: 49/51. Lightening the nose means that carving corners is markedly easier (and more tempting) and that the steering itself feels completely different from the far more planted V12. This doesn’t mean the V8 is ponderous or hard to control, but it’s much more of a live wire. It’s fun. As in, it’s fun enough that its competition — Ferrari, and Porsche to some extent — needs to take note.
2017 Aston Martin DB11 V8
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 503 horsepower
Torque: 498 lb-ft
0–60: 4 seconds
Top Speed: 187 mph
Where weight figures seem a bit abstract, performance numbers drive the point home. The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 is smaller than the twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12 and, understandably, less powerful. The V8’s 503 horsepower rating is far lower than the V12’s 600, but because of the motor downsizing, the car still leaves the gates like a rocket and the race between the two is a near dead heat. Aston Martin quotes the V8’s 0–60 time at 4.0 seconds flat; the V12 runs the same sprint in 3.9 seconds. Again, the merits of dieting cannot be overstated.
So when I say the V8 is sportier than its V12 big brother, I mean that in the way it behaves when driven, not necessarily the way radar detectors clock it. That familial linkage is apropos, too — an older brother is (probably) wiser and more mature, more likely to stick to the speed limits and accelerate and brake reasonably. He’s a bit more successful because he knows the ropes. The younger brother is a hyper lunatic, surging with hormones. He darts around Spanish mountain roads at absurd velocities and flirts dangerously with center lines and guard rails; he wants to roar through the gears with the windows down and cackle as loud as the exhaust overrun. He’s experimenting and loving it.
Compared to his V12 sibling, the DB11 V8 is frenetic, a true sports car; the V12 is mischievous but still mostly reserved. My personal pick is the V12 (call me mature, I dare you). But the DB11 V8 is a teeth-gnasher: a true Ferrari competitor from the most gentlemanly car brand in the world.
Aston Martin hosted us in Torrent, Spain to experience the 2017 DB11 V8 firsthand.
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