Test Drive: Aston Martin DB11

Courtesy Aston Martin

The brand's new supercar is as sleek as a James Bond suit, and as technically advanced as any of Q's toys.

I’m not wearing a tuxedo and I don’t drink martinis, neither shaken nor stirred, but I can’t help but feel like a modern day James Bond behind the wheel of the new 600 horsepower DB11 supercar from Aston Martin. Bond and Aston Martin have deep ties, of course, and if the fictional British secret agent 007 were to drive this DB11, there is no doubt he would be pleased.

I’m taking a curve down the side of a mountain east of San Diego, California, and while the view of the Salton Sea on the horizon and desert in the foreground is stunning, the DB11 has it beat in the looks department. The model I’m driving is “frosted glass blue,” a shade that, to my mind, accentuates the elegantly aerodynamic lines of the car. But most of the sex appeal comes from what’s under the clamshell hood: a new twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine with a top speed of 200 miles per hour, and the ability to rocket the car from zero to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds.

For all its power, the DB11 is a remarkably smooth ride. Aiding ride stability are hidden gill-like vents inside the front wheel wells, which release any build-up of high-pressure air to reduce front-end lift. Meanwhile, rear-end lift is reduced by a virtual spoiler fed by innovative “Aeroblade” side air intakes that shunt air through the aluminum bodywork, releasing it as a streaming jet from an aperture in the rear deck lid. Handling is superb; the engine is deftly managed by an 8-speed automatic transmission and three driving modes: a comfortable GT (Grand Tourer) position for general cruising and sport and sport+ positions that up the ante for more dynamic driving. The difference in feel as I move from one mode to another is substantial, making for nicely varied sports car driving experiences. Paddle shifters allow a driver to shift between gears manually as well. And while engine noise is part of a sports car’s appeal, there is a “quiet start” option for neighbors who might not appreciate the car’s otherwise rousing ignition sequence.

Courtesy Aston Martin

The interior, meanwhile, is as well tailored as any James Bond suit. There is plenty of head and legroom and the leather seats are very comfortable. The bit of red stitching down the middle of each chair and the perforated leather headliner are nice touches that take the aesthetics up a notch. Mercedes-Benz is a technical partner (Aston Martin developed the engine in-house) so some items like the center console controls for the entertainment and navigation functions are very Benz-like. New features for Aston Martin include auto-park (for both parallel and perpendicular situations) and a 360-degree camera for easier maneuvering at slow speeds. They're just a few little technical delights you could imagine Q gladly taking credit for.

From $214,820; db11.astonmartin.com.