The car you see here, the Aston Martin DB11 V12, is no longer available. Aston Martin isn’t taking any orders for this, the car that kicked off its current renaissance. It was replaced by the hotter DB11 AMR less than two years after it debuted, which is unusual.
That odd decision came from a brief conversation between Aston CEO Andy Palmer and chief engineer Matt Becker. The two conferred during the launch of the DB11 V8 last year, where Aston’s new entry-level GT began to overshadow its flagship, especially in terms of handling. Becker recounted the conversation to me at Goodwood earlier this summer.
“Look, we kind of need to now take the learning from the V8 and apply it to the V12,” Becker told Palmer. The boss’s reply? “Yeah, get on with it.”
The basic platform of the DB11 is a bonded extruded aluminum structure. This is the same sort of platform Lotus pioneered with the original Elise, offering lots of rigidity without the weight of steel, or the expense of carbon fiber. While talking about an ultra-lightweight sports car in the context of a 4000-plus-pound GT seems silly, there’s a line to be drawn from the stuff Lotus makes, to the DB11.
I’ve never driven an Elise, but earlier this year, I spent a lot of time in an Evora 400, a car Becker helped develop in his previous job at Lotus. What surprises is its ride quality. The Evora is one of the most focused sports cars on the road, setting the handling benchmark, and yet, it’s supple. That’s thanks to its rigid aluminum structure, which allows Lotus to fit relatively soft suspension with no real compromise to body control.
Aston doesn’t need to change much to create something seemingly new. “That’s down to spring tuning, anti-roll bar tuning, bush tuning, damper tuning, and all the software we have that we can manipulate to give you a different feel,” Becker said.
And Becker and his team are constantly learning, tweaking what started with the DB11 V12 to their heart’s content. So there’s more good stuff to come.
“Platforms are like human beings. You have to know what makes them tick,” Becker told me. “Then once you work it out, when you’re engineering the car, when you do the next one, if you want to scale the handling performance up or down relative to the ride quality or whatever, you know exactly what tools to use to do that.”
None of this would be possible if Aston hadn’t gotten so much right with this car. Like the 12C, the DB11 V12 should be remembered as the start of something great, and a hell of a car in its own right.