Launching a new flagship always brings with it a certain weight of expectation – particularly when its predecessors have been universally lauded since ’67.
That mantle is heavier still when the firm in question is in the ascendancy, producing some of its best work for decades, even opening a new factory in Wales.
Thankfully, the latest iteration of Aston Martin’s DBS, the Superleggera, more than lives up to the high standards set by its forebears.
For a start, it’s achingly beautiful. That huge grille, its long, low bonnet with strakes that give the impression of entering warp speed from standstill, and powerful rear haunches sheltering enormous 305-section tyres.
It bears a similarity to the DB11 – the two share both the same aluminium platform and their double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension – but manages to appear both more grown-up and more aggressive thanks to its wider track.
The DBS also borrows the DB11’s superb twin-turbo 5.2-litre ‘Cologne’ V12, from which Gaydon’s engineers have managed to tease a staggering 715bhp, making the Superleggera the most powerful production Aston ever made.
But that’s only half the story: peak torque of 664lb ft is achieved from just 1800rpm, and has to be limited in the first two gears to protect the carbonfibre driveline.
Top speed is 211mph, but it’s how the DBS gets there that impresses: it’s blisteringly quick from a rolling start and in the 30-100mph range – exactly where it matters in the real world.
A 0-62mph sprint of 3.4 secs puts it on a par with the more affordable Vantage, but wind up that silky 12-pot and the DBS enters a different league, reaching 100mph in 6.4 secs.
Inside, it’s as luxurious as you would expect, with supportive sport seats wrapped in premium hide.
They’re fully adjustable electronically, a feature missing from Astons a rung below, but the switchgear and infotainment system come straight from the DB11 – no problem in isolation, but a bit annoying if you pull up beside one in the pub car park.
Despite the similarities, there’s no denying that the cabin is a wonderful place to be.
There’s room for a decent amount of luggage, and rear occasional seats add a level of practicality that is usually lacking from cars in this segment. You can even fit a baby seat.
The Superleggera isn’t quite as quick or as sharp as highly-strung rivals such as the Ferrari 812 Superfast – but to get hung up on bald performance statistics is to miss the point: the DBS wasn’t a ‘supercar’ in 1967, and it isn’t one today.
Rather, it’s an incredibly comfortable and supremely capable transcontinental express – a car as usable when popping to the shops as it is thundering down the autoroute for a weekend in the sun.
Then, as now, it is unparalleled.
Images: Max Edleston
- Engine twin-turbo 5204cc V12; 715bhp @ 6500rpm; 664lb ft @ 18005000rpm
- Transmission eight-speed automatic, RWD
- 0-62mph 3.4 secs
- Top speed 211mph
- Mpg 22.9
- Price from £225,000