The prototype blew us away, but now we try production Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Is it the real deal?Verdict4.5The DBS Superleggera is a natural fit for the ready-made slot between the softer DB11 and focused Vantage sports car. It feels every inch the super-GT with incredible performance and a fitting soundtrack. There’s enough dynamic ability without unduly compromising comfort, too. Aston’s latest platform is coming of age, and the DBS proves this emphatically.
We’ve already tasted Aston’s new DBS Superleggera super-GT car in prototype form and were impressed with its potential. So we’re glad to report that the production version of the British company’s new brute has built on that further still.
In many respects, a GT is defined by its engine; the DBS uses the same 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 as the DB11. The hardware is identical, but added boost and a remap mean Aston has liberated a colossal 715bhp and 900Nm of torque. It requires a new gearbox to handle it.
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You don’t need many gears, though, such is the ever-present swell of performance. Maximum thrust is available from just 1,800rpm, which results in a 0-62mph sprint time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 211mph. This DBS will go from 50-100mph in fourth gear in just 4.2 seconds – or around one second faster than a Ferrari 812 Superfast. However, the Superleggera feels less frenetic than the Ferrari thanks to its slower steering; it’s more of a long-gaited GT car.
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In the default GT damper mode, there’s vertical compliance, so despite its huge 21-inch alloys the car feels like it reacts relatively delicately to the road rather than bullying it into submission. On smooth Austrian tarmac it felt compliant where you want, without lacking control.
The DBS comes into its own in fast corners. You can thank a total 180kg of downforce for the stability and response at speed. The Sport chassis setting works well, but Sport+ felt firm. We’ll wait to see what it feels like in the UK. In tighter turns, the 15mm lower ride height and 10mm wider track (over the DB11) are obvious, as is the 15 per cent firmer spring rate.
The steering is sweetly weighted but quick off-centre, and can make the car feel a little artificial as the chassis occasionally struggles to keep up. Yet it’s nowhere near as hyper-sensitive as an 812’s.
This sensation is especially obvious when trying to put all that torque to the road because the rear suspension struggles to contain it. Unsurprisingly, the rear often wants to step sideways, but after that initial reaction it feels easy to control.
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In a straight line the engine does its best to overwhelm the rear tyres. The noise is aggressive, too; it’s 10dB louder than the DB11 thanks to a new exhaust. Go for the powertrain’s Sport+ setting and the bassy rumble enhances the theatre. Still, the performance is so easy to access, and the DBS so fast, that you rarely need to explore the upper reaches of the rev range. But if you do, you’ll find a broad spread of power and a V12 that revs with welcome linearity to just shy of its limiter; only then does it begin to feel restricted.
That’s partly due to the box, which doesn’t shift with a dual-clutch’s speed or precision, dulling the acceleration. The trade-off is easy low-speed driveability.
The 270-litre boot and 2+2 cabin, added to all the kit you need in a leather-lined cabin, reinforce the GT credentials. This is a car for people wanting the most of everything: the most powerful, the fastest and the most exclusive. Best of all, the Superleggera still feels like an Aston.
- Model: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
- Price: £225,000
- Engine: 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12
- Power/torque: 715bhp/900Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
- Top speed: 211mph
- Economy/CO2: 22.9mpg/285g/km
- On sale: Now
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