British luxury cars are built on a sliding scale of pretentiousness. On the high end is Rolls-Royce, who describe their vehicles as “bespoke” enough for the word to lose all meaning whilst also inserting 24-karat diamonds into the dashboard.
On the low-end is a company like McLaren that tries to make the best performance cars as British engineering can. Sure, there aren’t any precious jewels embedded in the body, but it can run around a track like nobody’s business.
Somewhere in the middle (but closer to McLaren than Rolls-Royce) is Aston Martin, a name that still brings chills to many a gearhead's spine. The name that became synonymous with James Bond and the image of the British spy slash playboy rolling down the highways of Morocco has remained in the public consciousness for decades, such that some have accused Aston Martin of selling an image more than a car.
Well. Let the DBS Superleggera silence those critics.
0 to 60: 3.3 seconds
Horsepower: 715 hp
Range: Unknown, but probably not great. It’s a V12, after all.
Top Speed: 211 mph
Quarter mile: Unknown, not tested
Braking 60 mph to 0: Unknown, not tested
Much of what we see on the Superleggera is technology that was pioneered on the former DB11 grand tourer. The engine, aerodynamics, and much of the interior all come from the DB11, but with many iterative improvements.
For starters, the 5.2-L twin-turbo V12 engine now makes a whopping 715 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque--that’s up from 610 hp on the DB11. Zero to sixty is done in less than 3.4 seconds, while zero to 100 mph takes just 6.4 seconds. Top speed is 211 mph.
The DBS Superleggera's 8-speed automatic transmission has been upgraded over the DB11's thanks to a new design from ZF Friedrichshafen with a shorter final-drive ratio and strengthened internals. A mechanical limited-slip differential is combined with computer-controlled torque vectoring to give the Superleggera an old-school grand tourer feel while still providing such things as modern traction and stability control.
Carbon ceramic brakes adorn all four wheels, with front independent double wishbone suspension and a rear multi-link design in the back. Coil springs, anti-roll bar, and the latest in adaptive damping all combine to give the Superleggera as smooth a ride as possible under all road conditions.
Aston Martin’s Skyhook technology provides the car with three driving modes: GT, Sport, and Sport Plus. GT is for a comfortable ride, while Sport Plus hunkers the Superleggera down for a day at the track. Sport is somewhere in the middle for those who just can’t decide what kind of road they want to be on that day.
Another iterative improvement over the DB11 is Aston’s Aeroblade ll advanced aerodynamics kit, which includes a Formula One-inspired double diffuser on the back end. Downforce for the Superleggera is measured at 397 lbs at maximum velocity--the largest of any production Aston Martin ever.
All this is to say that it can go fast when it wants to, and drive comfortably when it doesn't. Just as a proper grand tourer should.
But Aston Martin’s are also about luxury, and the Superleggera has that in spades. The interior of the car is all leather stitching, Alcantara, and carbon fiber accents. A Mercedes-sourced 8-inch infotainment center sits center dash, while an optional Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system belts out tunes from your iPhone.
Don’t like the leather steering wheel? Trade it in for one made of carbon fiber. Prefer the more rustic look of wood? Replace the carbon fiber panels with ones made of the finest pines and deciduous shrubbery. Aston Martin has always been capable of ensuring their cars are built to their discerning clientele’s exact specifications, and the Superleggera is no exception.
What the car doesn’t come with is much in terms of driver assistance technology. The Superleggera does have a 360-degree camera with rearview and parking assist, but things like lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, or emergency braking are all absent. Aston believes that their cars should be driven by a driver and not the other way around.
But at an asking price of $304,995, one would expect the latest and greatest in everything, including automation. If one can get a similar amount of power out of a Mercedes-AMG or a performance BMW and also get a sensor suite that can take over some driver duties for a fraction of the price, why spend the money on a Superleggera?
Sure, have the option to turn the software off when you want to, but true luxury would be having the car do the driving when you’ve had a long day saving the world from an evil villain or chasing tail whilst poolside.
Perhaps Aston Martin is selling as much image as horsepower with the DBS Superleggera. On the other hand, Aston Martin has always gotten one thing right over its many decades of making ludicrously powerful GTs:
An Aston is always far more gorgeous than any German car ever made. And maybe that’s worth the price.