With Four Fewer Cylinders, This Aston Martin DB11 Gives You More

This is the first month you can buy the DB11 with a V8 engine. It offers many advantages over the V12 version.

By Hannah Elliott

Take the Aston Martin DB11. It is the most classically beautiful coupe on the market today. Aston put the V12 version on sale in December 2016, but this is the first month you can buy the V8 model, which is $18,000 cheaper.

I drove the $198,995, 503-horsepower V8 last week in Los Angeles; some months earlier I had driven the $216,495, 600-horsepower V12 in New York.   

They share the same chassis and suspension; the same steel disc brakes and 20-inch, 10-spoke diamond wheels; the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and mid-mounted engine placement.

They also look identical, minus the four hood vents on the V12 DB11—there are two on the V8 DB11. Each has the sculpted front, the chiseled torso, and the potency of a Viking warrior (if Viking warriors had rear-wheel drive). In fact, I spent most of my review of the V12 blathering on about how devastatingly attractive it is both inside and out. 

Yet for the discerning buyer, the V8 is the smarter buy.

Advantage One: Treat Yourself

I’m not telling you to spend less money.

What I am saying is, take the money you save buying the V8 and spend it on something nice for yourself, such as upgrades. Any car this beautiful should reflect its owner. So take that $18K and make the car your own: Go crazy for the winter wheels ($6,000), personalized color options ($10,700 to match a sample from scratch), and matching umbrella ($295). Take the exclusive and intensive Performance Driving Course that Aston Martin offers DB11 owners (£1,500 [$2,010] per person, exclusively for owners in the U.K.). A car of this caliber deserves to be driven well. Heck, get the four-piece luggage set that matches the leather on the interior ($2,500) and live that Aston life.

 (Just don’t get the crazy orange piping that gloms to the seats like a superhero spiderweb or the endless options for carbon fiber—adding those would be like spackling stage makeup onto the Mona Lisa. Garish and unnecessary. )

I’m also not telling you that this is the best advice from an investment standpoint. In general, for any given sports car, a V12 engine will command a higher premium at auction than a V8.

“The V12 engine option in a sports car is seen as the ultimate performance option,” said Jonathan Klinger, an analyst for Hagerty, when I asked him about it this week. “In most cases there were fewer examples produced [compared with the smaller engine options], they have a unique sound, and it is just simply cool. Car enthusiasts love to have something that stands out, and this is one way to do just that.”

But I’m tired of talking to people who own cars they keep squirreled away in air-sealed vaults, never tasting the fresh air of the open road. I’ve even heard whispers about collectors who brag about owning cars that have never even been started. This is tragic.

Advantage Two: Drive Sharper

Which brings me to my second point: You will have more fun driving the V8 DB11 than driving the V12.  

While it offers less horsepower than the V12 and 25-fewer newton meters of torque, the V8 gets to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds, just 0.1 second behind its counterpart. Pardon me, but I promise that you’ll be unable to count the difference. (You may hear it in the engine notes, I’ll give you that.)

What’s more, most drivers—myself included—will not sense the difference between a 187 mph and a 200 mph top speed over the course of their daily drive. I couldn’t hit 150 mph on the back straight of Thermal track in a floored Ferrari when I tried recently. Neither could the pro driver coaching me. (For the curious: we did 140 mph or thereabouts, yes, but that’s a far cry from 187.)

And it weighs 253 fewer pounds than its counterpart, which means that as you slide around corners and push through sweeps on your local mountain road, you’ll feel more in control, tighter to the road, and quicker off the turn than in the heavier car with a bigger engine. 

This DB11 still drives like a major car. It sits larger on the road—squarer—than the Mercedes-Benz AMG GTR, bigger than a 911, bigger than an F-Type and a Vantage. And it retains one of the most seamless, glorious paddle-shifting transmissions in the world. This guy bullies its way up hills with the bluster of a British boxer; it burrows down them like an angry badger.

All told, from behind the wheel, the V8 DB11 is sharper than the V12. (And likely more fuel-efficient, though final EPA numbers remain unconfirmed.) You’ll feel powerful and unencumbered when driving it—unless you got that fancy Aston travel set.

That’s the kind of baggage you’ll have to sort out on your own.

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