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Steering, suspension and comfort

Just as the engine’s appeal can be found in more subjective areas rather than simply statistically outgunning the opposition, so too can be said of the chassis.

The DB9 is not a car that’s going to grip like a mid-engined Ferrari nor ride like a Rolls-Royce, but that is the fate of all grand touring cars with a brief to straddle the disciplines of ride and handling and provide the best possible blend of the two. Or at least it should be.

The car's suspension is usually best left in normal mode

And with the DB9 at least, it is. Thanks in no small part to the tuning latitude provided by those electronic dampers, Aston Martin has been able at last to exploit fully the talent that was clearly latent in the DB9’s chassis all along.

The Aston handles beautifully, which is not to say it will corner fast enough to pull your head off your shoulders. Grip is good but it is the balance of the car that is memorable. All Astons built on VH architecture have had favourable weight distributions thanks to the location of the gearbox over the rear axle, but now the DB9 is making the most of the advantage.

Its long wheelbase and considerable weight means the car is never going to feel truly agile, but it is accurate, poised and phenomenally progressive should you turn off the electronics and breach the limits of the Aston's tyres.

The Aston understeers just a little, then, while under power it flows into oversteer so predictably it’s as if your right foot is measuring how far the back should step out of line: a certain pressure creates a corresponding amount of yaw which will increase or decrease in precisely linear fashion depending on how much pressure you elect to keep on the throttle.

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Selecting Sport mode stiffens the car somewhat, but the suspension's default mode is perfect for British back roads. Track mode appears to be something of a gimmick, but even if you’re not driving like you’ve just stolen it, there’s always the steering to keep you informed and amused.

One positive attribute of Aston’s current lack of an overseeing parental authority is that an electric steering system likely to save you a couple of tanks of fuel over the life time of the car has yet to be foisted upon it, so you can still enjoy not only the precision, weighing and linearity of the original steering system but also its feel.

Ride quality can be described as good enough, so long as you don’t get bored and start fiddling with the damper settings. There is some pitter-patter on B-roads but no more than you’d expect from a car that remains inherently firmly sprung while riding on such wide, low-profile rubber.

More important is the now-excellent control of vertical body movements, limiting the kind of pitching and heaving motion that can make your passenger wonder why on earth he or she got into the car in the first place.