When the covers came off the Aston Martin DB11 in 2016, it featured a 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12 under its hood, boasting supercar power with performance figures to match. However, in 2017, the British carmaker introduced the second variant of its flagship car with a Mercedes-AMG sourced V8. Dubbed the Aston Martin DB11 V8, this variant of the brand’s GT car offers the same aesthetics as its V12 sibling but with less power, weight, and a cheaper price tag.
I’ve been driving the V8-powered DB11 in Los Angeles this week, covering nearly 300 miles of city streets, open highways, and multiple runs in the canyons. As the odometer kept ticking, it became clear that while the DB11 V8 nails its role as a GT car, it walks a fine line, doubling as a proper sports car.
The Aston Martin DB11 is a stunning machine, easily one of the best-looking I’ve ever tested. With its low and widened stance complemented by a long hood, strong shoulder line, and angular lighting elements, this super GT has no wrong angle. The DB11 dominates the looks department by banking on thoughtful and sleek design instead of shiny chrome parts or over-the-top aero elements. The result is a car that comes across as more classy than crass.
I have nothing but high praise for whoever optioned my tester. Featuring an optional shade of Q Royal Indigo for $9,100 over a Black Damson and Ivory contrasting leather interior, this DB11 is not like the others in the best way possible. Despite what their names might suggest, this is a purple over purple Aston Martin. While that may sound a bit wild on paper, the dark hues work perfectly with this car’s styling elements, managing to draw a surprising amount of attention without banking on a loud, flashy color to get it.
Regardless of which engine option you opt for, there is no penalty in the looks department for choosing the V8-powered variant. The V12 and V8 are virtually indistinguishable, retaining the same great design regardless of the fewer cylinders.
Light On Its Feet
While the Aston Martin DB11 V8 is the least powerful variant in its family, it’s far from slow. The Mercedes-AMG sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 still develops 503 hp and 513 lb-ft of torque, allowing this 3880-lb coupe to reach 60 mph in less than four seconds before continuing to a top speed of 187 mph. If that sounds supercar quick, it’s because it is. In contrast, its V12 sibling puts out 630 hp and 516 lb-ft. While the horsepower output is drastically different, the two variants deliver near-identical torque figures, meaning the real-world difference between the pair likely isn’t as significant as it may appear on paper.
In practice, the DB11 V8 is properly quick. With peak torque coming in at 2,000 rpm, power is abundant, regardless of where you are in the rev range. Even the eight-speed automatic transmission does a reasonably quick job routing all of that power to the rear wheels. While it’s not nearly as fast or responsive as a dual-clutch unit, it’s more than smooth around town and on the highway.
The DB11 doesn’t sound anything like an AMG GT despite the Mercedes-AMG heart. That’s because Aston Martin retuned the engine considerably, to the point where it behaves and sounds unique. In its most aggressive setting, the valved exhaust system sings more than it screams. Overall, the DB11 sounds as classy as it looks, tying the whole car together nicely.
Choosing the V8 over the V12 has significant benefits, especially in the weight department, as the less powerful DB11 is 253 lb lighter. While the weight reduction is substantial on its own, it’s important to remember that the weight savings come primarily at the front of the car, which serves to improve its weight distribution. The DB11 V8 feels agile on the road, eager to change direction on tight switchbacks without understeer. In this configuration, the DB11 walks a fine line between a Grand Tourer and a genuine sports car.
On the suspension front, it’s clear the DB11 prioritizes comfort over outright performance. Around Los Angeles, the DB11 soaks up bumps well, even when faced with significant imperfections on the road. On the highway and at speed, the DB11 feels balanced and planted without sacrificing comfort. While the car’s adaptive suspension allows you to firm things up for curvy roads, I found myself leaving the car in its most comfortable settings as I saw little enjoyment benefits to the stiffer settings.
Step inside the Aston Martin DB11 V8 and things only get more purple. Since the interior is made almost entirely of leather, the dashboard, center console, seats, and door panels feature excellent color. Thankfully, a contrasting Ivory leather helps balance the look. Additionally, there’s contrasting stitching throughout, giving the DB11 a proper sense of quality. Everything inside this Aston Martin feels incredibly pleasant to the touch and well built. The only noise you’ll hear in the cabin is leather rubbing together, no hard plastics spoiling the experience.
On the tech front, the Aston Martin DB11 offers a digital instrument cluster with your revs displayed front and center flanked by two smaller configurable screens. The center eight-inch screen features a somewhat outdated infotainment system that’s a bit tough to use, especially when compared to its competitors. Additionally, like the Vantage F1 Edition, I drove, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available as options.
Thanks to their plushness and adjustability, the 12-way adjustable heated seats are excellent for covering long distances. While there isn’t as much side bolstering to hold you in during tight corners, it’s a worthwhile tradeoff considering the everyday comfort. These seats are the types you could be happy with daily or driving across the country.
Comfort aside, the interior’s ergonomics are excellent as you sit down low in the car, giving the impression that it wraps around you. With ample head space and excellent visibility, the DB11 nails its role as a GT car.
Is The DB11 V8 The One To Buy?
Power and weight aside, the pricing structure is a big differentiator between the Aston Martin DB11 V12 and V8. Despite my tester’s $209,700 base price, options such as the exterior paint ($9,100), Technology Pack + ($9,100), and Exterior Black Pack ($6,900) bring its as-tested price to $258,986. In contrast, the cheapest V12-powered variant starts at a hair under $250,000, meaning with similar options, we’d be looking at a car costing around $290,000, marking a considerable price gap.
Since I have yet to drive a V12-powered DB11, I can’t comment on which of the two is the better drive. However, I can confirm that the V8 delivers a driving experience that is exciting, rewarding, and befitting of its price tag. Even if it’s mainly positioned as a GT car, the V8 brings in some proper sports car handling and agility that only add to this model’s appeal. Furthermore, thanks to its comfortable cabin, excellent ergonomics, and ample use of high-quality materials, the DB11 is equally comfortable for everyday commutes or driving across the country.