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The 2018 Aston Martin DB11: A Convertible James Bond Would Love

Meet the successor to the car made famous by "Goldfinger."

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An Aston Martin cannot be judged against the standard of common consumer cars. Since 1913, the Gaydon, the UK-based company built transportation that reached for the ideal blend of aesthetics, performance and comfort. For those buyers who can afford their price tags, Aston Martin creations elevate themselves above the four-wheeled creations of the Fords, the Toyotas, the Volkswagens and the Hyundais. Instead, they jostle against the Bentleys, the Ferraris and the Maseratis.

Amongst all of the automaker’s superior models, those carrying two initials – DB – are the most beloved and iconic. Taking those letters from former owner, racer and company savior David Brown, the DBs originally raced at Le Mans, Goodwood and Silverstone before the 1963 DB5 exploded into the public consciousness as James Bond’s gimmicked ride in Goldfinger.

With the DB5 deeply carved into any car lover’s gasoline-powered Mount Rushmore, its two-lettered badge of excellence has set the standard for supercars looking to blend sophistication with power. Just last August, a 1956 DBR1/1 sold with Sotheby’s for $22,500,000 — making it the most expensive British car ever sold at auction.

The 2018 model year is now in showrooms, and the heir to this proud English tradition is the DB11. The grand touring coupe debuted in 2016 with a 5.2 liter, twin-turbo V12 engine capable of putting out 600 horsepower with a 0-60 mph time just under four seconds. The first car of Aston Martin’s “second century,” post-anniversary plan, the DB11 is the first car built in partnership with Mercedes AMG – the German car builder’s elite tuning division.

Starting with a base MSRP around $225,000, the DB11 V12 offered a new aluminum frame that maintained structural rigidity while removing weight. The long, sloping lines of the DB9 remained, with a new hood and fresh headlights joining a set of strong haunches and newly sculpted taillights.

The DB11 is a car that dominates its environment whether parked or moving past lesser machines driven by average humans. Anyone with even the most basic sense of aesthetics will look at the car and realize they’re seeing something special. However, fully kitted out for personalized delivery, the standard DB11 will run a buyer a cool quarter million. To offer all of the car’s grace and fury with a little less noise and a less painful (if still considerable) price tag, Aston Martin introduced a V8-powered version of their DB11 for 2018.

The 2018 DB11 V8 knocks out four cylinders and more than 240 pounds of curbside weight to bring its performance numbers more in line with its more muscled up sibling. The V8 packs plenty of puff with a Mercedes-AMG-built, 4.0 liter, twin-turbo engine putting out 503 horsepower and a 0-60 time just a few tenths of a second slower than the V12.

Apart from the engine, the V8 version is much the same car as the original DB11. The eight-speed automatic transmission, chassis, suspension, steering and electronics are all new in both cars and precisely tuned. The well-heeled DB11 V8 buyer drives home with a car that’s indistinguishable from the V12 model on the outside — unless examined up close and personal (or unless you like counting hood vents). And, it all drives away for a bargain base price around $199,000.

For that money, Aston packs in a Mercedes-AMG designed onboard AI system with three driver-selectable modes: GT, Sport and Sport Plus. GT serves up the luxury elements of the DB11 for maximum comfort and sophistication, while the Sport and Sport Plus modes ramp up the performance, tuning the engine’s efficiency and sharpening the handling by adjusting the torque vectoring and firming up the adaptive damping.

2018 Aston Martin DB11
2018 Aston Martin DB11

Aston Martin’s intelligent bank activation keeps the car balanced in motion, while stop-start technology saves fuel in what otherwise could’ve been a thirsty engine. The car scored a surprising combined score of 28.5 MPG in the UK. As with the V12, the driving feel of the DB11 V8 is sublime — better than sex (though your experience may vary). With its smooth, reliable acceleration, immediately responsive handling and perfectly cast exhaust note (…the V12 is louder, but not necessarily more thrilling…), the experience is as close as you’ll come to driving music.

If the bankbook in question is fat enough, a buyer can’t lose with either the V12 or V8 DB11. There might be a bit more status and prestige to owning the bigger engine, but the V8 can stand alongside its big sister and offer a similar supercar for a potential savings of 50 large.