By: Mike Ginsca
In 2005, Aston Martin launched a new GT car, called the DB9, which represented a new direction for the entire brand. It was constructed using new manufacturing techniques and it was designed to be a “GT car with sporting intentions”. Fast forward almost a decade later and the DB9 has received significant upgrades ranging from the exterior styling to chassis improvements and an increase in engine output.
Starting with the engine, it is a 6.0L V12 that produces 510hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. This being primarily a GT car, most of the engine’s power is delivered at a very low 2500 rpms so in city traffic you don’t need to go past that rpm range. But of course you want to because the noise coming from the exhaust is a thing of beauty for your ears. There is also the speed that is associated with the exceptional noise once you press hard on the throttle pedal. From a stop, the Aston Martin DB9 can accelerate to 100km/h faster than you can say “shaken, not stirred” and it will reach a top speed of 295km/h. The car feels relentless when it’s gaining speed and it sheds its 1700+kg weight like it’s nothing.
When it comes to stopping, the Aston Martin DB9 is fitted with standard carbon ceramic brakes and massive 6-piston fixed calipers. When the brakes are cold, the brake pedal requires some effort to bring the big girl to a stop. However, once the carbon ceramic brake discs are warmed up after a few minutes, stopping the DB9 feels like you’ve crashed into the side of a building. The brakes deliver a tremendous amount of braking force. So much in fact that you have to be aware of the car behind you because most likely it won’t have strong carbon ceramic brakes, unless it’s another Aston Martin… but how often does that happen?
The job of shifting through gears is done by either the computer or via paddles behind the steering wheel. The transmission is mounted in the back of the DB9 to improve the weight balance and unlike other modern sports or GT cars, it is a traditional automatic rather than a dual clutch. In normal mode, shifting is smooth and it never misses a beat. In sport mode, shifts are noticeably faster and gears are held all the way to the redline without automatically shifting up before that.
The engine and transmission are impressive but more impressive than those are the handling characteristics of this big GT car. As mentioned earlier, this DB9 tips the scale at 1785kg and that weight can be felt through corners. But the Aston Martin DB9 is fitted with anti-squat and Adaptive Damping System (ADS) to reduce the suspension from sagging under hard acceleration or cornering. In everyday driving conditions the ADS will be in “normal mode” which does a fairly good job of absorbing bumps and road imperfections. The ride is not as smooth as that of a Bentley but for a sports GT car it is acceptable. When the ADS is in “sport” or “track” modes, the suspension becomes very firm and almost unbearable for city use. Every little road imperfection could be felt through the steering wheel and seat and it feels almost like you’re running your hand on the surface of the road. On the upside in these modes, the car barely sways from side to side as it travels through corners and has exceptional grip. The Aston Martin engineers definitely achieved their goal of turning a GT car into a sports car with the DB9.
Comfort – Although the DB9 drives more like a sports car, it feels like a proper GT car on the inside. The words “luxury” and “exquisite” are not enough to accurately describe the feel and look of the DB9’s interior. Nearly every panel is covered in soft leather and contrasting stitching and everything else is either quality aluminum or carbon fibre trimmed. Of course this being an Aston Martin, the colour and trim can be selected by the owner when purchasing a brand new DB9. The design of the dashboard and console is very elegant and the transmission controls are buttons on the dashboard which allows for a small storage space where the shifter would normally go. The seats are extremely comfortable for long journeys but still offer ample support when driving enthusiastically. However the rear seats are completely pointless because there is absolutely no leg room, even for children. Also the navigation system could do with an upgrade to the software because it looks like it belongs on a $15,000 car rather than a car costing six figures.
Odds and Ends – They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, I dare anyone to say that this car is not beautiful. However, this is a design that we’ve all seen before. In 2011, Aston martin created a model that would sit between the DB9 and the DBS. This model was called the Virage. But after just 18 months, it was discontinued due to poor sales. However, instead of spending millions and millions of dollars on development costs, Aston Martin decided to scratch out “Virage” and write in “DB9” and that is why this new generation of DB9 looks exactly like the older Virage. Some may see this as a “lazy” move by Aston Martin but however you look at it, it is a beautiful machine and it allowed Aston Martin to stay competitive in the world of luxury supercars.
The redesigned Aston Martin DB9 is an excellent all round package that blends luxury GT driving with sports-car-like performance and it is fairly reasonably priced when compared with the competition. Yes, the Porsche 911 Turbo is less expensive and faster but it doesn’t offer the same level of interior quality and prestige. The Bentley Continental GT may be just as luxurious as the DB9 but it cannot match it on performance and it is almost $50,000 more expensive. With a base price of $200,000 CAD, the Aston Martin DB9 is an excellent example of a GT sports car at an “affordable” price.