What is it?
This is the car that marks the end of the road for the short-lived Virage but, claims Aston, also fills the gap “perfectly” between the entry level V8 Vantage and the new Vanquish at the top of the range. It’s a heavily revised but also more expensive version of the DB9, it costs an eye-watering £131,995 and it boasts a rousing 510bhp at 6500rpm.
That’s good enough to send the new, 1785kg DB9 to 62mph in just 4.6sec and on to a top speed of 183mph. Compared with the previous car, CO2 emissions have dropped a touch to 333g/km, which is useful, although the capacity of the V12 remains at 5935cc with torque rising slightly to 457lb ft at a 5500rpm.
The styling upgrades are as obvious as they are beautiful in the metal. Overall the new DB9 has more than a whiff of the Virage about it visually, and there’s not a lot wrong with it for that (unless you were one of the 1100 or so buyers who invested in a Virage, in which case you mightn’t be quite so delighted by the latest DB9).
Aston’s designers and engineers are particularly proud about the pedestrian protection that has been achieved despite the car retaining its endearingly long, low-slung bonnet. They’ve also introduced adaptive damping to the all-round double wishbone suspension, which features three different modes – Normal, Sport and Track – that help “transform” the DB9 on the move.
Perhaps even more significantly, carbon-ceramic brakes now come fitted as standard – as they did on the Virage. They help reduce the DB’s unsprung weight while improving its braking performance and longevity, and all without removing any feel at the pedal. These alone help justify the jump in list price compared with the outgoing model.
What is it like?
Very good indeed, even if it is a touch on the expensive side compared with the outgoing car. On the road the new DB9 feels so good, in fact, that it asks questions about the new Vanquish that all but the most committed Aston Martin salesman might well struggle to answer.
With 510bhp from its heavily revised V12 engine it feels properly quick in the mid-range and makes a suitably monstrous noise to go with it. And in its steering, handling, ride and braking — especially its braking — it is close enough to its big brother that you’d need to drive them back to back and over an identical road merely to tell the difference between them.
Except, of course, there is a difference that separates it from the bigger car, and it’s in the way the DB9 can swap so seamlessly between roles on the move. In truth, it’s a softer, more refined machine than the Vanquish on the road, and in any of its three modes. As a result, it feels more of a genuine GT car.
The DB9 is not a car you climb into and naturally want to start throwing around, even though it reacts a whole lot better than you’d expect if and when you do. It feels almost gentlemanly in its responses when in Normal mode, and with the Sport button disengaged so that the throttle response and exhaust noise are at their most civil.
But if you dial up Track mode a quite fantastic cacophony erupts from the exhausts, the throttle response becomes twice as crisp and the gear changes become snappier, and better, too. And no, there isn’t an option for a manual gearbox, Aston Martin claiming that, with the DB9 in particular, customers simply won’t want a three-pedal transmission when the six-speed paddle shift suits the car’s character so well (and they’re right by the way, no matter what the purists may say).
Should I buy one?
Aston Martin has suffered from some poor press of late, specifically concerning the age and quality of its VH engineering system that was conceived in 2004 and still lies at the heart of its cars today. But the new DB9 – based on the fourth generation of the VH system, the same as that of the vastly more expensive Vanquish – proves that there’s more than a little life left in the idea yet.
Be in no doubt, this is one of the great GT cars of the moment. It’s as modern in its engineering execution but at the same time as endearing in its core appeal as anything Aston Martin has produced since the Gaydon era began all those years ago.
If you’re in the market for this kind of car, it’s hard, if not impossible to think of a better direction in which to aim £132,000.
Aston Martin DB9
Price £131,995; 0-62mph 4.6sec (claimed); Top speed 183mph (claimed); Economy 19.8mpg (combined); CO2 333g/km; Kerb weight 1785kg; Engine V12, 5935cc, petrol; Installation front, longitudinal, rear wheel-drive; Power 510bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 457lb ft at 5500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd auto