We expect a lot of modern GTs: that their handling is sports car-like and their body control taut, but also that they’re relaxing and long-legged on a long trip, as well as refined and luxurious.
That they must also bristle with charm and be an unmistakable driver’s car – at least when we’re talking about a big Aston – means you end up with an impossible list of attributes to satisfy perfectly.
Gaydon has wisely tended to aim for a position slightly off-centre with its DB cars – to make them bigger and better on pace, sporting allure and driver engagement than the competition, while settling for good but not outstanding scores in the driver engagement than the competition, while settling for good but not outstanding scores in the silken-edged departments where its rivals at Bentley and Mercedes are habitually strong.
In some ways Aston has clearly settled with that compromise here, but in other ways it has made the car an unmistakably more complete and competitive GT than any in its history.
The ride is extraordinarily good. Cycling through GT, S and S+ modes brings ever-firmer response from the car’s Bilstein adaptive dampers, but it’s the first of those modes that lends the car the amazing breadth of dynamic ability you’ll want from it most of the time.
Fairly soft springing makes for supple bump absorption at most prevailing speeds, but somehow those Bilsteins prevent the associated limp body control and lazy directional response that you might be expecting from even beginning to take root in the dynamic mix.
And so the DB11 corners keenly and flat. Its body breathes with an undulating surface, not pitching or heaving far enough to make the car deflect. The frequency of its movements is gentle and low, andthe suspension seldom needs more than one matching stroke of compression and rebound to return the car to a settled equilibrium.
Cornering balance – another way in which a heavy engine has got the better of many a big GT over the years – is also spot on.
The steering is a little lighter than we’d prefer, and likewise not as rich on feedback, but it’s very good for a first crack with electromechanical technology.
Cabin isolation in the car is less exemplary. An aluminium underbody presents any car maker with a challenge in snuffing out noise and vibration because the raw material is inherently conductive of both – and so it proves here.