The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera delivers huge, ear-splitting performance, yet comfort when you want it. Quality is patchy inside, though
Aston Martins usually come with plenty of impressive numbers attached, most commonly with regards to power, pace and price. But another number has been troubling Aston, an Italian one, and that number is 812 – or the 812 Superfast, to be precise.
Indeed, Ferrari’s flagship 753bhp 812 Superfast had somewhat stolen Aston Martin’s limelight – until now, that is. This is the British firm’s response; the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.
OK, so its ‘super lightweight’ moniker might be stretching it a little, given the DBS has a kerbweight of around 1800kg. But that’s a saving of some 70kg over the standard V12 DB11 on which its based, which in turn means a better set of stats: you’ll howl to 62mph in just 3.4sec and, with enough room, carry on to 211mph.
In fact, the DBS is a very different car from the standard DB11. It has a wider rear track, gets wider, bespoke Pirelli P Zero tyres, sits lower to the road surface, has unique aerodynamics with increased downforce at maximum speed and gets an even more raucous exhaust system. Then it has an upgraded gearbox to handle the extra torque, a more aggressive rear differential for keener handling and a fettled ESP system to help you get the most out of the DBS Superleggera’s performance. Which is why it also costs quite a bit more, at £225,000.
So it’s perhaps a little disappointing that there are areas inside where the DBS feels lacklustre. Sure, space for two is good and its fundamental driving position, seat and wheel adjustment are all commendable, but its cheap-feeling air vents and questionable build quality in places is disappointing at this price. Putting up with Mercedes’ old infotainment system for that money is also jarring.
The DBS Superleggera is based on the DB11, but that’s where it ends. Driving it hard reveals everything has been dialled up to 11...
But that is forgotten when the attention turns to driving. The DBS’s uprated turbocharged V12 is simply staggering in the way it pulls itself from of low revs and on towards its limiter, while the exhaust note that goes with it is nothing short of extraordinary. The lighter, slightly more powerful Ferrari 812 is quicker in a sprint from standstill, yes, but the Aston’s notably better torque makes it the quicker car when accelerating on the move.
And the DBS handles noticeably better than a standard V12 DB11, too. That weight saving, wider track, and more aggressive diff all help the DBS turn in more willingly and generally feel lighter on its feet, although our largely soaking wet, mountainous test route was no place to be switching off the DBS’s electronic safety nets and go exploring its limits.
Does it handle better than a Ferrari 812 Superfast? Only a back-to-back track drive would shed light on that, but the naturally-aspirated Ferrari’s keener throttle response, lower kerbweight and quicker steering do at least make it feel like it changes direction with slightly more verve.
But these are Super GTs, cars that need to get you to the South of France in comfort before you thrash around the local racetrack chasing lap records. Here, the Aston is the better bet; it’s quieter at high speeds, has the more supple suspension in its GT driving mode and the slicker gearbox around town. There’s also no doubt that its sumptuous leather-clad interior feels the more special place to sit.
Which leaves us in no doubt that the Aston Martin DBS Superlegerra is one of the most complete cars Aston Martin has yet produced. Sharp, monumentally quick and brilliantly raucous, yet comfortable and refined when you want it to be.