C/D Preview - Aston Martin DB9

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    A great beauty, this time with great engineering.

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    BY PETER ROBINSON
    June 2004

    Let Ulrich Bez, the German engineer commissioned by Ford to transform tiny Aston Martin into a serious car company, explain the character of his new DB9.

    "There is room for Aston Martin to drive a wedge between sports cars like the [Ferrari] 360 Modena and GT models like the [Bentley] Continental," he says.

    After a day hammering the DB9 around the hills above Nice, France, it's hard not to agree with the passionate Bez, a rare automotive CEO who's as happy describing his steering philosophy ("As weighting increases away from the center point, I want to feel side forces in the steering") as he is talking about Aston's financial situation ("We are currently breaking even operationally and will be profitable in 2005").

    Bez has every reason to be optimistic. With parent company Ford opening its wallet wide, Aston developed a flexible new platform—known internally as VH, for "vertical horizontal"—that is the basis for the DB9, in addition to next year's smaller V-8 Vantage and the 2007 replacement for the Vanquish. If the earlier car, the DB7, could plead that it was severely compromised by its archaic XJS Jaguar platform (from 1975), there can be no excuses for the DB9 in its pursuit of a 2265-cars-a-year niche that blends sports car with GT.

    Apart from retaining the Aston's V-12 engine—even though it's thoroughly revised via a new crank, cams, manifold, and engine-management system for more midrange torque—the engineers' clean-sheet game plan called for an all-new structure. They wanted 50/50 weight distribution, so they set the 444-hp V-12 well back in the engine bay, adopted a transaxle layout for the ZF six-speed automatic (you could pay more for the six-speed manual Graziano next year; the firm supplies Ferrari), and developed a bonded aluminum platform that's a mix of extruded, stamped, and die-cast parts. The front fenders and hood are composite, but the rest of the exterior skin is aluminum.

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    It's achingly beautiful. Aston found no reason to start a styling revolution. The DB9, like the Vanquish, DB7, and V-8 Vantage, relies on classic proportions, long-established Aston styling cues, big 19-inch wheels, and simple sculptured forms to achieve its gorgeous looks. Less visually aggressive and more elegant than the $235,600 460-hp Vanquish, the DB9 will launch this month with the $155,000 coupe, and a couple of months later, the $170,000 Volante convertible will follow.

    Happily, the DB9 driving experience matches the beauty. A welcome 5.8-inch stretch of the wheelbase means this is the first modern Aston to offer a respectably roomy driving position, with ample adjustment for the deep buckets and lovely leather steering wheel. If the rear seats remain token gestures at best, here at last is an Aston with a distinctive, special-place interior that's dominated by a sweeping central band of bamboo timber, 3-D aluminum instruments, and the rich smell of cowhide.

    The first critical decision for the driver is to choose between changing gears manually via the steering-wheel paddles and selecting automatic "drive." For the DB9, ZF has doctored its familiar automatic, here called Touchtronic 2, so that it can perform like the electrohydraulic shift of the clutch-pedalless manual gearbox used in the Vanquish. It blips the throttle on downshifts and swaps gears the instant either the upshift or downshift paddle is activated. In contrast to drive modes that slide into the next gear at 6500 rpm, Touchtronic 2 refuses to upshift, even when the howling V-12 hits the soft 6900-rpm cutout in sport mode.

    [​IMG]

    Aston's latest luxury vehicle rides more firmly than the earlier car, the DB7, especially at low speeds, but rewards the driver with far better control and agility. It stays flat through a series of corners, rarely unsettling the suspension over bumps, and encourages fast driving. If that's the trade-off for a ride that is clearly biased toward the firm, so be it. At the behest of Bez, the steering is heavy, but as cornering loads increase, the dead sensation at low speeds is replaced by genuine feel (there's even occasional kickback), and the handling becomes responsive. Getting the DB9 to wag its tail demands real commitment on dry roads; more to the point, a hooligan driving style doesn't suit the Aston character.

    In an era when Mercedes-Benz's tuning arm, AMG, has redefined acceleration, the DB9's blueprint of 444 horses pushing around as much as 3900 pounds is comparatively modest; that is, if the claimed 0-to-60 number of 4.9 seconds—the manual does it in 4.7 seconds—can be considered modest. More crucial, the DB9 always feels quick, the power building from 3500 rpm and hitting its sweet spot between 5500 and 6000 rpm, the optimal change-up point for the best acceleration numbers.

    No longer does the DB Aston live by beauty alone. This is the best-sorted, most thoroughly engineered Aston Martin of all time. Still, exquisite appearance remains central to its appeal. Combine this with a superb interior and authentic dynamic allure, and Bez's rationale stands up.

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe

    Estimated base price: $155,000
    Engine type: DOHC 48-valve V-12, aluminum block and heads
    Displacement: 362 cu in, 5935cc
    Power (SAE net): 444 bhp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 420 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
    Transmissions: 6-speed manual with automated shifting and clutch, 6-speed automatic
    Wheelbase: 107.8 in
    Length/width/height: 184.9/73.8/51.9 in
    Curb weight: 3750-3900 lb

    Manufacturer's performance ratings:

    Zero to 60 mph: 4.7-4.9 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 10.8-10.9 sec
    Top speed (drag limited): 186 mph
    Projected fuel economy:
    EPA city driving (C/D est): 11-12 mpg
    EPA highway driving (C/D est): 18-19 mpg
     
  2. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    ford gt + db9 = only cars ever needed
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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  4. Element

    Element Guest

    Umm, isn't the Bentley GT the same price?

    Bentley GT >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> DB9
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Absolutely, positively no. :rofl:
     
  6. Element

    Element Guest

    They are the same price right? The only think the DB9 is better at is in the styling department. The Bentley trumps every other category.
     
  7. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    Oh man, why'd you have to...Oh, why not...I'd fist your grandmother for that car too. :hs:

    pics? :rofl:
     
  8. M4A1

    M4A1 :)

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    I have never seen a car thread where you don't bring up the GT.
     
  9. KoukiS14

    KoukiS14 New Member

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    :rofl: :rofl: nothing else sums up my feelings better.
    balddog > *
     
  10. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    In his defense, it's in the same price range and they're both beautiful machines. I'd certainly be proud to own either of them. Living in Austin, where there are no road courses less than an hour away (yet), I'd probably lean toward the DB9. If I lived near a road course, I'd be all over the GT, as I know I wouldn't be able to push the limits of that car safely on public roads...:mb:
     
  11. jk

    jk Guest

    stop talking like you are going to own one.
     
  12. M4A1

    M4A1 :)

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    Uhhh, ok.
     
  13. Homan

    Homan Unconquerable OT Supporter

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    bigger pics!
     
  14. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    why?
     
  15. autox

    autox OT Supporter

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    if you've seen the race from england to monte carlo in top gear, you'd like the db9 the most too.
     
  16. M4A1

    M4A1 :)

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    Such a great vid
     
  17. Nacho

    Nacho Fancy words here.

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    OT DEMANDS SAID VID!
     
  18. Element

    Element Guest

    Nobody in their right mind would buy a DB9 over a Bentley GT

    Both the same price.
    Bentley has the better name.
    Bentley performs better.
    Bentley is AWD.
    Bentley has better interior (Aston uses a lot of parts from Jaguar).
    Aston looks better.
     
  19. autox

    autox OT Supporter

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    OT had such vid, its like 300 megs, so nothin I can do for ya.
     
  20. jk

    jk Guest

    you mean ford.
     
  21. Dalai Lama

    Dalai Lama Guest

    you forgot to put the interesting points in bold
     
  22. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    and by bentley, he means volkswagen.
     
  23. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    Last edited: Jun 5, 2004
  24. Dalai Lama

    Dalai Lama Guest

  25. Chadder007

    Chadder007 OG Diamond Member

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    Yep :rofl: :fawk:
     

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