Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Leggera? Brit range-topper is anything but a lightweight

ALEX INWOOD

Model Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Engine 5204cc V12 (90į), dohc, 48v, twin-turbo

Max power 533kW @ 6500rpm

Max torque 900Nm @ 1800-5000rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic

Weight 1693kg (dry)

0-100km/h 3.4sec (claimed)

Economy 12.3L/100km

Price $517,000

On sale Now

Stunning looks; prodigious V12; sounds great; interior craftsmanship

PLUS & MINUS

Huge torque requires careful management; porky; more GT than sports car

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

OF ALL the cars on which Iíd hate to be a set of rear tyres, this one sits at the top of the list. Astonís DBS Superleggera produces 533kW from its twin-turbocharged V12, but that isnít the telling stat here. Itís the 900Nm of torque. And the inescapably portly kerb weight figure, which, despite the use of carbonfibre body panels that save 72kg, sits at 1693kg. And thatís sans fluids. Combine the two and thereís a lot of physics for two 305-section Pirellis to manage.

And more often than not, they fail. Drive it hard on a circuit and even careful use of the throttle sends the traction control system into overdrive, especially exiting slower corners. Turn the electronic gubbins off and youíll barbeque the bespoke rear rubber faster than a juicy scallop on a hibachi grill. Exciting, sure, but how much twist does a 2+2 super GT really need? Ferrariís savage 812 Superfast has 182Nm less, and no sane person could argue it requires more thrust. Before we get to that, however, some context.

The $517,000 DBS Superleggera is the replacement for the nowretired Vanquish, meaning it flies the flag as the ultimate Aston Ė at least until the Valkyrie and the much-anticipated mid-engined supercar arrive.

Itís built on the same bonded aluminium architecture as the DB11 and utilises the same 2805mm wheelbase and forged suspensions (double wishbones up front, multi-links out back), but sits 5mm lower. There are wider tracks, stiffer springs, anti-roll bars and rear bushings, a more aggressive limited-slip differential and, thanks to clever underbody aero work and a discreet rear spoiler, the most downforce of any Aston Martin ever: 180kg at 340km/h.

The 5.2-litre V12ís mechanicals are unchanged from DB11, the 86kW/200Nm increases arriving through more boost, greater cooling and a new quad tailpipe exhaust thatís said to be 10dB louder. The eight-speed ZF gearbox is new too, its beefier internals and new casing required to cope with the extra torque.

As with DB11, there are three modes for the engine and chassis (GT, Sport and Sport Plus), which can be cycled through via plasticky steering wheel buttons. Drive it sedately and the DBS is remarkably civilised; the experience one of effortless propulsion, silky drivetrain calibration and supremely judged damping. Dial up the aggression, however, and the DBS rises to the challenge. Fast, flowing corners are its forte, the big V12ís bottomless pit of torque delivering a deeply satisfying surge as you squeeze on the throttle in fourth and fifth gear. Sounds good, too, the exhaust cracking and popping on the overrun in Sport and Sport Plus to provide just the right amount of cultured aural theatre.

Itís only when you try to hustle the DBS, as we did at the technical Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand, that things can become a little uncouth and squirmy as you work to contain the weight and to manage the colossal torque.

Ultimately, however, the success of the DBS Superleggera rests in what you want from your $500K super GT. If the answer is breathtaking looks, creamy power delivery and continentcrushing comfort, then Astonís newest model is world-class. Itís a brilliant sporting GT; one that feels properly special and a clear step beyond the DB11. Itís also more comfortable and civilised than an 812 Superfast, though nowhere near as exciting or as dynamically talented.

ALEX INWOOD

01 FLY VIA VIRTUAL WING

Apertures incorporated into the C-pillars channel air through an upper section of the boot, creating a virtual wing capable of generating 120kg of downforce over the rear of the car.

02 A LEANER CHUBBY

Astonís technical tie-up with Mercedesí parent company Daimler brings the floating tablet-style multimedia screen at the top of the dash that incorporates sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio and vehicle settings Ė but not Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

03 CONTEXTUAL LIGHTNESS

Extensive use of carbonfibre body panels and 21-inch forged alloy wheels reduces DBSís overall weight by 85kg compared to DB11, but calling it Ďsuper lightweightí is a bit of stretch.

A half-millís worth

Few interiors deliver such a first impression as that of the DBS Superleggera. Sumptuous, diamond stitched leather covers virtually every surface (even the roof), the metal shift paddles have a nice tactility, as do the prominent crystal buttons mounted on the centre console (ignition and transmission selector). It feels special, yet strangely familiar. Much of the cabin design is shared with the Vantage and DB11, which dulls the sheen of specialness slightly, and carries over the same ergo glitches. Thereís nowhere to put the key and cabin storage is at a premium.

OR TRY THESE...

Ferrari 812 Superfast $610,000

A mind-scrambler of raw speed and dynamic brilliance. Forget any notion that this a GT car; itís a proper V12 screamer with borderline hypercar pace capable of challenging even A-grade steerers.

Bentley GT Supersports $569,522

This offering from the storied British brand occupies the opposite end of the spectrum, despite being the most focused model in the GT line. Even more torque than the Aston (1017Nm) but much heavier.