From £180,812
Auto 'box is the better option for everyday driving

Our Verdict

Aston Martin DBS

The DBS is Aston Martin’s greatest ever GT

Matt Prior
23 October 2008

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.

Join the debate


23 October 2008

Sounds very nice but "touchtronic" sounds like some magnetic clutch semi-auto from the early 60's. Why not plain auto?

23 October 2008

Cause they have to give their "marketing gurus" something to do during the day mate!

3 April 2009

the 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

6 April 2009

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 !

19 April 2009

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.

25 April 2009

[quote mattysanderson]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[/quote] 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.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Mustang
    First Drive
    24 March 2018
    Sixth-generation Mustang gets a leaner face, revised suspension, improved safety equipment and a more power V8. We see how it fares on southern French roads
  • First Drive
    23 March 2018
    Fully-loaded, big-hitting diesel CLS shows the potential perils of ticking too many options boxes on your order form. A good car with a bad suspension combination.
  • BMW M5
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    Super saloon deploys four-wheel drive to improve every facet of its driving experience. Faster and more capable than any, and more exciting than most, of its celebrated predecessors
  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim