What is it?
The Aston Martin DB11 V8 represents a landmark moment for the British car maker: it’s the first new Aston to be powered by an engine from Mercedes-AMG, made possible by a corporate tie-up inked four years ago between Aston Martin and Daimler AG.
The new-to-Aston 3982cc twin-turbocharged V8 is, of course, well known to us. Predictably, it comes into the DB11’s engine bay like an uncouth German death metal fan pogoing his way into a bourgeois English dinner party; Gaydon must have invited it along with clear expectation of trouble.
In a broader sense, I’ve no doubt that Aston knew exactly what it was doing when it took the decision, four years ago, that would lead to the DB11 getting a twin-turbocharged V8 engine from Mercedes-AMG as an alternative to the Cologne-built twin-turbocharged V12 with which the car launched last year. This engine’s an integral part of Aston’s future in all sorts of models.
But here’s the thing: Aston’s pair of DB11s now have torque-to-weight ratios of 373lb ft and 384lb ft per tonne; and, because Aston’s V12 is a heavy old lump and AMG’s V8 can get away with one less radiator, it’s actually the cheaper V8 model that’s sitting pretty on that score. So, in one respect – and, arguably, the most telling one where real-world performance is concerned – the little brother’s actually the bigger hitter.
It’s the V12 model for which the faster 0-62mph and top speed claims are made, though, because it’s almost 100bhp more powerful – and so Gaydon’s performance hierarchy isn’t exactly in tatters. But, with only 18lb ft of torque between the siblings and 115kg saved by the newbie, there was never likely to be much breathing space left for the pricier model.
So why take the risk? Aston only ever offered a 12-cylinder engine in the DB9, it’s on the cusp of introducing a new Vantage V8 model anyway and it never actually produced six- and 12-cylinder DB7s at the same time, so there’s scant precedent for this. Well, it’s globalism – again. While the £13,000 saving that UK DB11 buyers stand to make in return for giving up a third of their cylinder count could easily be splurged on optional wheels, paint, trim and stereo equipment, there’s greater pecuniary justification for the car’s existence elsewhere in the world. In China, for example, the local tax regime will make Aston’s sub-4.0-litre eight-cylinder car £70,000 more appealing than a V12. It’d take more than a celestial roofliner to wipe that out.