Aston Martin’s highly-anticipated comeback may finally come to fruition this year as they commemorate their 110th anniversary. The year commenced with a remarkable performance by Fernando Alonso in Formula One, where he achieved an impressive six podium finishes, with two being second-place victories.
This triumph marks a significant turning point for the brand, which has been absent from the spotlight other than for its appearances in the iconic Bond films. Under the guidance of billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin seems to have found its stride once again.
While Aston Martin’s DB lineage spans an impressive 75 years, the latest DB12 model represents the first creation of the Stroll era. It shares some resemblance with its predecessor, the DB11, yet it’s important to note that Stroll took the reins only in Q2 of 2020. The extensively revamped DB12 serves as a mere glimpse into Aston Martin’s forthcoming ventures. Although proclaiming to be the pioneer in the new Super Tourer category might sound bold, it signifies a logical progression for the brand.
As other sports car manufacturers such as Ferrari and Lamborghini push the boundaries of performance, and luxury car makers like Bentley and Rolls Royce prioritise comfort, Aston Martin finds its place in the widening gap between the extremes. Alongside possible contenders like the Ferrari Roma and Porsche 911 Turbo, Aston Martin delivers a perfect blend of style, luxury, and driving enjoyment.
Aston Martin’s approach sets them apart from the competition. While other brands engage in an arms race for the fastest sports car, Aston Martin remains committed to offering a consummate touring drive experience. This is achieved by combining the luxury of Rolls Royce or Bentley with a sleek and elegant design that rivals the confidence of Porsche on the open road. The DB12’s design, much like the Porsche 911, evolves with each generation to optimise performance and power delivery.
The DB12’s resemblance to the formidable Superleggera is undeniable. However, the esteemed British automaker made some notable changes. The front one-piece fender/bonnet has been replaced with a conventional front-opening engine lid, incorporating a soft plastic snout for pedestrian protection. The attention to detail extends to a revised Aston Martin emblem and new fonts for the nameplate. These seemingly minor enhancements contribute to the overall impression that Aston Martin has meticulously refined every aspect of the car, not just to the front spoiler and optional splitter extensions.
The DB12 has embraced a significant leap forward in terms of contemporary allure and grace, incorporating subtle design modifications to create the most visually captivating Aston Martin of today, truly embodying its presence as a sophisticated steed for gentlemen.
But it’s not just the appearance that has been improved. Beneath its streamlined surface, a remarkable transformation has taken place, with over 70 percent of the chassis and powertrain being completely revamped or extensively reworked. Noteworthy enhancements include a 56 percent larger front grille opening, facilitating enhanced cooling, along with widened track widths of 6mm at the front and 22mm at the rear, resulting in superior traction and handling capabilities.
Aston Martin’s engineers took on the task of elevating the driving experience to new heights, demonstrating unwavering confidence in their pursuit to perfection. They were punctilious on precisely refining the elasto-kinematics of the suspension bushings, ensuring that the optimal geometry remains resolute even in the most demanding circumstances. With utmost precision, they reduced the transmission of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) to a mere whisper, guaranteeing an impeccably tranquil cabin experience that surpasses all expectations.
Additionally, Aston Martin increased the body’s global torsional stiffness by 7 percent, with significant localised increases in key areas. For instance, the front cross-bracing now boasts a 140 percent increase in stiffness, while the rear experiences a 30 percent boost. This enhanced rigidity unlocks the full potential of the Bilstein DTX (DampTronic X-Technology) system, which extends the damping boundaries by a remarkable 500 percent. The active, computer-controlled dampers instantly adapt to different driving conditions, providing improved damping without compromising ride comfort. Even with a 22 percent stiffer front suspension and 24 percent stiffer rear suspension, the DB12 offers a balanced and comfortable ride.
Under the hood, the traditional V12 engine has made way for an AMG-sourced Bi-turbo V8, delivering an impressive 680 PS and 800 Nm of torque. Aston Martin achieved this power increase through various enhancements, including larger turbos, new cam profiles, optimised cylinder heads with new AMG engine mapping, and increased cooling capacity to handle the higher power output.
The power-plant is paired with a carbon fibre propshaft and the latest iteration of the rear-mounted ZF8HP automatic gearbox. This gearbox provides lightning-fast shift times that rival those of dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) while maintaining the smoothness and refinement expected from an Aston Martin.
With a shortened final drive ratio for improved acceleration and the inclusion of an Electronic rear limited-slip differential, the DB12 delivers exceptional performance and precise power distribution to the rear wheels. The DB12 manages a sprint to 100 km/h in a quick 3.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 325 km/h.
Matching its impressive speed, the DB12 is equipped with high-performance braking capabilities. Standard features include cast-iron 400mm front discs and 360mm rear discs with grooved and drilled surfaces, designed to enhance thermal capacity and provide reliable stopping power. The brake booster has been fine-tuned to deliver an enhanced pedal feel. For enthusiasts seeking for even greater braking performance, the automaker offers optional Carbon-ceramic brakes, featuring slightly larger front and rear discs accompanied by multi-piston callipers.
This time round, Aston Martin worked together with Michelin to develop the very first OE application of the latest Michelin Pilot Sport S5 tyres, with 275/35/ZR21 tyres in front and massive 325/30/ZR21 tyres in the rear. The tyres feature a noise-reducing foam belt beneath the tread for further noise reduction. It also features special tread contour-fitting steel belts to ensure uniformity in the tread blocks to improve handling response.
Leaving the bustling city behind, we embarked on a journey along the picturesque Route Napoleon, a renowned stretch of road within the Monte Carlo Rally. Even at low speeds, the DB12 exuded refinement and responsiveness, effortlessly navigating through traffic.
Inside the cabin, Aston Martin has replaced the previously criticised Mercedes-sourced infotainment system with a newly developed in-house design. The integrated dual-screen system features two 10.25-inch high-resolution Pure Black screens, offering highly responsive touch control. Aston Martin’s designers have cleverly retained physical buttons and switches for commonly used functions like air-conditioning and volume control, ensuring a seamless and intuitive user experience. If I could have a wish, it would be for an actual analogue central tachometer as this would be the perfect blend of traditional and high-tech.
Switching from the comfortable GT mode to the more dynamic Sport Plus mode, the DB12’s steering came alive, delivering enhanced precision and positive connection with the chassis. The engine and transmission responses were heightened, resulting in a dynamic and entertaining driving experience.
Astonishingly, even in Sport Plus mode which typically sacrifices comfort for sharp handling, the DB12 remained surprisingly composed and comfortable. This remarkable balance was made possible by the active Bilstein DTX dampers, which expertly optimised comfort in every driving situation. Sport mode seems to offer the best of both worlds and is perhaps the best all-round compromise.
Aston Martin’s DB12 is a testament to the art of creating the perfect Super Tourer. Combining superb handling, power, luxury, and elegance, it effortlessly defines this new genre. After an extensive drive along the stunning Côte d’Azur, it is evident that Aston Martin has crafted an exceptional vehicle that sets new standards for touring performance and enjoyment.
Aston Martin DB12
Price from: (Singapore $1.289 million before COE or options)
Engine: 3982 cc, twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic with paddle shift
Power: 680 PS (671 bhp) at 6000 rpm
Torque: 800 Nm at 2750 to 6000 rpm
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds
Top Speed: 325 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 12.2 l/100km (city)