Aston Martin DB11 V8 test drive: powerful, aggressive and utterly delightful

With an all-electric future on the horizon, this petrol-powered beast feels like a fitting farewell

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Since 2016, the Aston Martin DB11 has been a beacon of style, power and effortless cool. It is arguably the British manufacturer’s most complete vehicle to date.

Although the V8 model had Aston Martin purists up in arms when it launched — because how dare it not use a V12 engine? — it was a hit. Fast-forward to the latest models and doubts have been firmly left in the rearview mirror.

The DB11 V8 coupe we’re zipping around in is the type of car that sees passers-by straining their necks for a better look. It’s the combination of sleek, aerodynamic curves and that guttural roar when the engine revs to life that invites such admiring looks. The unmistakable gaping front grille and a rear that accentuates its width and sportiness make the DB11 V8 incredibly easy on the eye.

The specs

Engine: Twin-turbo, V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic and manual
Power: 503 bhp
Torque: 513Nm
Price: from Dh646,800 ($176,095)
On sale: now

It’s the perfect ice-breaker and status symbol, and perhaps that’s the whole point of owning an Aston Martin.

It’s not just a looker, either. The DB11 V8’s twin-turbo has a white-knuckle top speed of 309 kilometres per hour. And, while it’s not as fast as the V12 version’s 335kph, the V8 is quicker and stiffer through corners. You feel every inch of the road through its luxurious leather steering wheel. This makes the handling feel satisfyingly responsive. As the DB11 sits so close to the road, it’s a bit like driving a go-kart. Albeit an incredibly expensive one.

Of the three driving modes, GT is the default setting and will satisfy your need for speed from the off. Sport unleashes a few more horses under the hood for quicker acceleration and stiffer handling. And Sport+, which is for a track or the autobahn, removes all the driving aids and dares you to press the gas pedal harder.

The cabin is fitted out in luxurious leather and can comfortably fit four.

One of the best things about switching through these modes is the noise the DB11 makes. Sport+ will unleash a primal growl through the exhaust pipes, which is punctuated with aggressive pops as it shifts through the gears. Utterly delightful.

The interior of the DB11 V8 is as impressive as the exterior. It’s all lush, soft-to-touch leather from the front to the back. The sports seats hug you comfortably in place. And, despite how it seems from the outside, there are two rear seats, which will surprisingly fit an Iso-Fix child seat. Perfect for those trying to convince their significant other that this can double as a family car.

However, the DB11 V8 feels behind the times. Despite borrowing a tonne of tech from Mercedes-Benz, including the twin-turbo engine, the deal didn’t stretch as far as the future-proofed in-car entertainment. It has a screen that looks like it should be detachable (it isn’t) and sits awkwardly out of the central console. Pairing it with Bluetooth devices is fairly straightforward, but the clunkiness of navigating the menus via the dial or the touch panel isn’t befitting of the esteemed name.

But to be hung up on tech in an Aston Martin is to completely miss the point. The Aston Martin DB11 V8 drives as well as it looks, that’s why you pay the entry fee.

As the company pushes to realise its all-electric vision — the first plug-in car is due in 2025 — the DB11’s future is up in the air. At the time of writing, Aston Martin says “all models will be available with an electric drivetrain”, but industry insiders think the petrol-powered vehicles will be phased out in due course.

Still, if this is how the manufacturer intends to park the DB11 series, it’s certainly going out with a bang. Style, substance and speed — the Aston Martin DB11 V8 is the complete package.

Updated: October 07, 2022, 3:37 AM
The specs

Engine: Twin-turbo, V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic and manual
Power: 503 bhp
Torque: 513Nm
Price: from Dh646,800 ($176,095)
On sale: now

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