Aston Martin’s lightweight predator is a majestic beast
Aston Martin is not hanging around, releasing yet another new model in the DBS Superlegerra
I have a thing for the Aston Martin DBS. It was more brutal than the Vantage but at the same time it was more thoroughbred.
Sorry to use overused racehorse cliches but it was a thoroughbred racehorse, providing muscular looks, excellent poise and, of course, lots of power.
It was also a fabulous GT car and was just as at home driving through mountain passes as it was whipping between hedgerows on British back roads or riding with the herd on the daily commute in Johannesburg. It was a proper all-rounder. I’d buy one today, if I had a different job.
The DB11 is a very different beast to the DB models that came before it, so when the new DBS Superleggera arrives in the third quarter of 2018, there will be high expectations. Lerato will drive it later in July and will tell you all about it in an August issue of Motor News, but for now here are the details.
First of all, the name. Aston has chosen to bring back the Superleggera name to add to the DBS. It means super light and has been used by famous marques and coachbuilders for decades. In the modern era it is a name mostly renowned for adorning lightweight versions of Lamborghini models, but it has been on Astons before too.
The DBS Superlegerra replaces the former Vanquish S and continues to offer V12 power. The twin-turbo 5.2l pushes out 533kW and 900Nm, enough to give it a claimed 0-100km/h time of 3.4 seconds and a top end of 340km/h. Maximum power is achieved at 6,500r/min with the top torque figure available between 1,800 and 5,000r/min which should translate into some fabulous mid-range performance. In fact, Aston claims it will shoot from 80-160km/h in just 4.2 seconds in fourth gear, describing it as having "effortless urgency and crushing overtaking ability".
There’s a strengthened eight-speed ZF automatic transmission that channels the power through a carbon fibre propshaft to the Pirelli P-Zero clad 21-inch rear wheels. The DBS also gets a mechanical limited-slip diff and Dynamic Torque Vectoring and to slow things down, carbon ceramic brakes.
All this sits in a chassis that has evolved from that of the DB11 so it gets a lightweight bonded aluminium structure. Aluminium is also used extensively in the bodywork. Like the DB11 it also features an impressive feat of engineering in the clamshell bonnet and it also gets the DB11’s unique Aeroblade II aerodynamic trickery at the rear.
"DBS Superleggera not only marks the return of a great Aston Martin name, but signals our return to the very pinnacle of the Super GT sector," says Andy Palmer, president and CEO of Aston Martin. "Handsome beyond measure, its lightweight carbon composite and aluminium body is sculpted into a shape with tremendous presence and charisma.
"Thanks to the remarkable torque available from its twin-turbo V12, DBS Superleggera also packs a breathtaking punch, yet its dynamics have been carefully honed to engage drivers of all ability levels.
"Immaculately styled, obsessively engineered and outrageously potent, the new DBS Superleggera is every inch the Aston Martin flagship".
The company says that the design is supposed to provide a predatory stance. The massive grille has a shark appearance to it, although Aston says it was the honeycomb that most influenced the design by chief creative officer Marek Reichman and his team. Beyond the huge grille, there are sculpted carbon fibre body panels, elegant power bulges and bonnet vents that convey a sense of speed.
There are also some well-engineered aerodynamics at work, including the front splitter and arid which force air beneath the car to enhance downforce but also to cool the brakes. Behind the front wheels are ducts which allow air to escape and flow down the sides, similar to those on the Aston Vulcan and the Vantage GTE race car. At the rear, the Aeroblade II works with a new diffuser to produce an impressive 180kg of additional downforce at top speed.
"The term Super GT is a relatively new one, but the very special breed of car it describes has long been part of Aston Martin’s DNA," says Aston chief technical officer Max Szwaj.
"DBS Superleggera honours that tradition in spectacular style, largely thanks to its ultra-high torque V12, which we have tuned to deliver maximum performance in the most accessible rev range. This heavyweight performance is complimented by the use of lightweight materials and construction techniques, which save weight without sacrificing structural integrity.
"Faster, lighter, more potent and more sophisticated, DBS Superleggera is a formidable and fabulous machine."