This is the new 680hp Aston Martin DB12
"The world’s first Super Tourer," says Aston Martin. Actually, it’s a badge that’s been attributed once or twice before to cars that bridge the GT/supercar divide, cars such as the latest Porsche 911 Turbo. But let’s take it at face value, because it accurately describes what Aston is trying to do here.
The mission is sportscars. The Valkyrie has (finally) arrived, the development of other mid-engined machines is ongoing and Aston’s quest to become the British Ferrari is basking in the reflected rays of F1 success. Alongside this, the grand tourer seems a dated concept. And besides, the DB11 was never the finest exponent of the breed.
But it’s not replacement time yet. The DB11 has only been around for seven years, when the DB9 that preceded it lasted the best part of double that. Aston needs the platform to pay its way. So it’s been given a very thorough overhaul.
The headline is what’s not there anymore. The V12 is dead. Emissions finally caught up with it. Here’s what else isn’t there: a hybrid or any form of electric assistance. Instead, the DB12 uses the Mercedes-sourced 4.0-litre twin turbo V8. That was in the DB11, where it produced 535hp. But with no 630bhp twin turbo V12 and a quest to boost sportiness, Aston needs the V8 to do more heavy lifting.
Modified camshafts, an 8.6:1 compression ratio, overhauled cooling (including two new auxiliary coolers and an oil cooler that’s doubled in size), plus – naturally – bigger turbos, has seen the V8 gain over 150hp. That’s huge. 680hp makes this not far off as potent as the 715hp DBS (now in its final 770hp Ultimate run although the badge is sure to make a comeback).
That power figure means a few things. Firstly, speed. 0-100km/h is dusted in 3.6secs, max whack is 325km/h. Torque, incidentally, is up 34 per cent at 800Nm from 2,000rpm. It also means everything else has to cope.
The bonded aluminium chassis has more bracing increasing torsional rigidity by seven per cent, with particular attention given to improving the mounting of the rear axle and dampers.
The adaptive dampers themselves are all new and have far more bandwidth. The double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension layout is retained, as is the electric steering, but the promise is that the calibration and precision of everything has been transformed.
Aston is the first OEM to use Michelin’s latest PS5S tyre as standard equipment. They come with noise cancelling foam inserts to reduce road roar noise by 20 per cent. Still needs to have those GT manners.
However, the 8spd auto now has a shorter final drive, there’s an e-diff, 21s are standard, track widths are up six and 22mm and there are 400mm front brakes. Carbon ceramics are optional and save 27kg.
Best of all, when everything else seems to weigh over two tonnes, this comes in at 1,685kg. That’s a dry weight (Aston is yet another one sensitive about their weight), so reckon on around 1,820kg (on a par with the DB11), although interestingly to sharpen the front end Aston has moved more weight to the back – distribution stands at 48:52.
Most importantly, it looks like it means business. The bodywork has been skilfully enhanced. It leans towards the brutish muscularity of the DBS, but modernises those lines with more defined creases. The way the wheels pack the arches, the enlarged intakes, the curvature of the bonnet and broad haunches – it’s a sharp piece of design.
But for real transformation, step inside. Almost all traces of Mercedes switchgear have been eradicated as Aston has taken the infotainment in-house. Hopefully that’ll be a good thing. Certainly it allows them to keep more up to date and avoid stumbling into the DBX no-touchscreen issue.
There is one of those, a 10.25-incher with a 30ms reaction time. There will also be over-the-air updates and a comprehensive phone app. More pertinently, a new partnership with Bowers & Wilkins sees an optional 15-speaker, 1,170-watt hifi appear on the options list.
The driving environment has been entirely redesigned, the push button gear selector has gone and there are plenty of buttons to reduce menu browsing time. But it’s the optional sports seats that provide the clearest evidence that the DB12 takes a new direction. They’re firm, more scantily padded, but with higher bolsters. A carbon Performance seat tops the range.
It looks and feels a more serious driving tool. And that should hopefully allow it to plug the gaping hole between the wonderfully weighty Bentley Conti GT and the hyperactively flighty Ferrari Roma.
Prices have yet to be announced, but deliveries are scheduled to begin this autumn. 2023 marks 75 years of Aston’s DB cars and this, so the claim goes, is “the most complete and accomplished DB model in [the firm’s] history.
Put simply, no series production Aston Martin has dedicated itself so completely to setting new dynamic benchmarks". We’ll find out in July if it lives up to its billing.
TEXT Ollie Marriage
PHOTOS Aston Martin