Aston Martin DBS DBS Touchtronic

June 2009

picture of car from the front

Stunning appearance comes as standard with the DBS

Ratings

Overall Rating 9Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 3Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Searing performance and sound from V12 engine
  • Exquisite exterior
  • Superb long distance comfort
  • Quality workmanship throughout

Gripes

  • Inevitably high running costs
  • Transmission buttons look odd on dashboard
  • Better use of space behind seats would be useful
  • Boot space is relatively limited

In recent years Aston Martin has produced a series of modern cars which build on its reputation for building essentially British cars that can compete with the European elite. The current crowning model in the range is the DBS, a high-performance version of the DB9.

Few cars at any price can match the visual drama of the DBS. Its exterior design is an impressive blend of classis Aston Martin details but with a thoroughly modern feel. It manages to hint at the past without slavishly copying it, and its handsome curves and proportions give it a presence which is hard to ignore. The DBS differs from the standard car with the addition of carbon-fibre panels, different wheels and a rakish bodykit, adding to the drama.

Underneath the skin, the DBS uses the same complex architecture as the V8 Vantage and Vanquish before it. The core of the car is constructed entirely from aluminium, using high-tech bonding rather than riveting for lightness and strength. The bodyshell is also a mix of aluminium and composite panels, which also brings exceptional strength and light weight. As well as benefiting performance, the strong body and frame help to boost refinement levels.

Mechanically the DBS uses the desirable front-engined and rear-wheel drive layout, although the engine is mounted almost completely behind the front axle and the gearbox is rear-mounted to achieve the perfect 50:50 front/rear weight distribution. The 6.0-litre V12 engine is tuned to offer yet more power, pushing the output beyond 500bhp and putting the DBS in contention with supercars.

Inside the DBS eschews the two-plus-two layout, with the rear seats turned into space for oddments. The large transmission tunnel divides the cabin, with front seat passengers enclosed by the low-slung seating position. The DBS also has a compact boot, accessed through a discreet rear tailgate.

Our verdict on the Aston Martin DBS DBS Touchtronic

The DBS competes in a highly exclusive sector inhabited by some of the finest marques in motoring, but it can compete on all fronts. The exquisite design, thrilling performance and sumptuous cabin are a delight, and although its price inevitably makes it very exclusive, the lucky few will not be disappointed.

Costs
Costs rating 3

Running costs for the DBS will be very high indeed. The purchase price, fuel consumption and insurance are all at the top end of the scale, making it a car for the well-heeled only.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

The DBS is relatively restricted in terms of space, particularly given its size although, most importantly, front seat passengers are well catered for.

picture of car from the rear

Carbon-fibre diffuser is part of the bodykit

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The layout of the DBS is logical and easy to use as well as very attractive, with gorgeous flood-lit instruments and clear digital displays. The button layout is sensible and clear, while buttons on the back of the steering wheel can be used to control the satellite navigation, which is a useful feature.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

The DBS is inevitably more focused than the standard car. The ride, although relatively firm, copes well with lumps and bumps thanks to the strong architecture. Road and wind noise is well disguised - although more noise gets through than the standard car - and at a cruise the engine settles down to a discreet rumble. The seats are also very good, with full electric adjustment to attain an excellent driving position.

Car security
Security Rating 8

Befitting a car of this price and exclusivity, the DBS comes with an alarm and immobiliser as standard. This can be upgraded to include a tilt and intrusion sensor, while a tracking device is also on the options list.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

With an immensely strong chassis the DBS offers a high level of passive safety, while the high performance brakes and suspension, combined with a standard stability control system promise an equally high level of active safety.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 9

Beautiful as it is, the real pleasure of a DBS comes with the driving. Right from the off, the 6.0-litre V12 delivers effortless performance. Even very light throttle applications release large amounts of torque and any gear at any speed produces purposeful acceleration. Use all the revs and the performance is shattering, and the quoted top speed in excess of 190mph feels easily attainable. The handling is equally impressive, with a high level of composure and feedback despite the car's size. Even at low speeds the DBS is a genuine pleasure to drive.

picture of car interior

Sumptuous cabin is a pleasure to use

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 2

The DBS's family appeal is limited by its small rear seats - only the smallest child seats will fit, and the boot is insufficient to carry large amounts of luggage.

First car appeal
First car Rating 1

The DBS is much too expensive and powerful to suit even the richest first time car buyer.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 10

The DBS is right at the top of the quality tree, with clear attention to detail and high quality materials throughout. The end result is a car that is a pleasure to operate, right down to switches on the dashboard or opening the boot. The same can be said for the DBS's image, which is close to peerless. The combination of a famous back catalogue of fine performance cars alongside a successful racing heritage and cinematic appearances make it one of the most desirable cars money can buy.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

A svelte coupe of this height should be difficult to get into, but the clever arrangement of the doors, which open out and upwards, makes getting into the front surprisingly easy. Rear seat passengers do have to squeeze a little, even though the front seats slide forward. Access to the boot is adequate, although the aperture is relatively modest.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

All DBS models now come with a premium Bang and Olufsen audio system, with acoustic mirrors and a custom set up for the car. Steering wheel controls allow easy operation, and the sound quality is outstanding regardless of the input device.

picture of car in detail

Automatic transmission uses dash-mounted buttons rather than a lever

Colours and trim

The DBS's cabin can be customised to a large degree, with a choice of wood or metal finishes to the dashboard. In any configuration it is a highly attractive layout, with quality materials and first class construction.

Parking

Given its low-slung driving position and lack of conventional bumpers, parking the DBS can be a little taxing. However, the auto transmission and light steering at low speeds help relieve the stress.

Spare wheel

Tyre inflation system fitted as standard, with tyre pressure monitoring.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options: 6.0-litre (470bhp and 510bhp). Transmission options: Six-speed manual gearbox, six-speed automated manual gearbox. Trim levels: DB9, DBS.

 

Alternative cars

Bentley Continental GT Impressive blend of performance and comfort

Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG Technically impressive but lacks involvement

BMW M6 Superb performance, styling not to all tastes

Audi R8 Brilliant to drive and flawless cabin



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June 2009