Auto 'box is the better option for everyday driving

What is it?

This is a lightly enhanced version of the quite splendid Aston Martin DBS coupe. Here we’re testing the optional Touchtronic 2 (that’s automatic to you and me) transmission.

Also on offer through the revised Aston Martin DBS options list are +2 rear seats in place of the standard little storage bins, lighter 20-inch wheels and - now as standard - a 1000W 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo.

What’s it like?

Still quite splendid, truth be told. Much of the appeal of the manual Aston Martin DBS, which is a bit of a bruiser next to some of its rivals, is it’s old-fashioned charm. Thankfully the automatic version hasn’t compromised any of that appeal.

The gearbox is a six-speed ZF unit, much like the one fitted to the Aston Martin DB9, with a few tweaks: including a lower final drive and recalibrated shifts, more aggressive to suit the DBS’s feisty nature.

It shifts gears very well too. Because it’s a conventional auto, Touchtronic 2 doesn’t have the control and precision of an outstanding automated manual, but its shift times are good and the torque converter lock-up is quick. It’s no slusher: it really fires the gears home.

Should you want it, manual control is by magnesium paddles behind the steering wheel and, although this gearbox robs the driver of the ultimate interaction of a manual shift, gone too is the manual’s sometimes clunky shift, and the V12 engine’s slightly springy, zingy and non-linear throttle response at low revs.

So it’s an easier and, in many ways, more rewarding drivetrain to use.

It lets you concentrate more on the rest of the excellent Aston Martin DBS package: a firm, controlled ride; approachable, surprisingly playful handling with a fine chassis balance; and well-weighted, nicely geared and accurate steering.

The 510bhp V12 makes a wonderful noise and Aston claims that, mated to the six-speed auto, the 0-62mph acceleration time of 4.3sec is unchange; likewise the top speed of 191mph. It certainly feels as quick as the manual.

And the options? You’ll know yourself if you needed the +2 seats and, while the wheels save 8kg overall, the fact that they look brilliant is probably likely why most customers will choose them. The Bang & Olufsen stereo, meanwhile, is a thing of wonder.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. Big grand tourers that can do the track day and supercar thing are few and far between and the Aston is just about as good as any.

The auto option on the Aston Martin DBS adds three grand and, although a couple of our testers bemoaned the loss of the outright interaction, just as many thought the benefits outweighed that loss.

Put it this way – if you generally drive on great driving roads and track days, take the manual. If you spend an equal amount of time on rubbish roads, take the auto.

Either way, the Aston Martin DBS is a lovely piece of kit. And that Bang & Olufsen stereo is awesome.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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aceman 25 April 2009

Re: Aston Martin DBS Touchtronic

mattysanderson wrote:
he thing is about aston martins they dont experiment with things they just get the same shape as a db9 put a couple of vents on it and call it a dbs
No all cars do this. The GT-R, the S3, A4 allroad... Aston Martin have changed: The engine, weight, slightly on the style but it does look like the DB9; I think it's because they don't want to ruin the look of their car series. So I disagree.

aceman 19 April 2009

Re: Aston Martin DBS Touchtronic

The looks are on DBS. Performance wise we are getting better as well. But I find that if your going to make another version of the car you need to change it more. It's almost a replica of the DB9. Other than this no improvement needed.

2fast4u 6 April 2009

Re: Aston Martin DBS Touchtronic

aston should change there marketing tactic instead of dbs touchtronic they shoud try over priced db9 in a skirt with nice touches where we could be bothered a huge sound system to drown out the awesome exhaust note and a modifed 80's auto transmission all for the small price of a three bed semi it won't make me buy one but at least we'll understand what there sellin !