Hagerty Video: The New DB12: An Aston Martin with a bit of Ferrari? | Henry Catchpole – The Driver’s Seat

Posted: 2023-07-04 23:01:00
Author: Hagerty
The new Aston Martin DB12 is a crucial car for the British company. Why? Because it represents the first of a new generation. A new Vantage is also expected before long and Valhalla is waiting in the wings as well. What’s more, Aston is keen that these new cars should better reflect a company that has a Formula One team – and a rather good one at that.

As such, greater performance is the order of the day for Alonso’s new company car and although there is no longer a V12 option the familiar 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 has been pumped up to produce a startling 671bhp and 590lb ft of torque. Can the rest of the car cope with that? Well, let’s just say that this is a DB with an E-diff for the first time and it looks like it’s got the tyres for the job, with wide new Michelin Pilot Sport 5 S rubber wrapping the new forged wheels.

This more sporting bent to the car is intended to position the DB12 (and Aston as a whole) directly between Bentley and Ferrari. A new skew towards the famous Italian marque is perhaps no surprise because the latest man to slip behind the big desk in the fanciest corner office at Gaydon is none other than Amadeo Felisa – ex-CEO at Ferrari.

Since he took over from Tobias Moers in 2022, Felisa has brought in various engineers with Maranello knowhow to help guide the development of the new generation of cars. Can you feel this influence in the DB12 (which Aston Martin is positioning as the world’s first Super Tourer)? You’ll have to watch the film to find out…

We had the run of the roads in the South of France but within the test route there was one particular stretch of tarmac that it seemed appropriate to visit. In the James Bond film GoldenEye, 007 drives his famous Aston Martin DB5 in an impromptu race against a Ferrari 355 GTS with Xenia Onatopp behind the wheel. This scene with Pierce Brosnan and Famke Janssen takes place on a set of spectacular roads not far from the Route Napoleon, so that’s where we went. With a new, silver DB at our disposal it would have been rude not to.

We hope you enjoy the film and the spectacular scenery. If you feel compelled to support Hagerty in some way then perhaps have a look at a Drivers Club membership, which comes with a whole host of benefits: https://bit.ly/Join-HDC-Henry
Or just share the film with others and spread the word about the channel – it really helps. See you next time for something else that has a blend of British and Italian…

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– This is the latest in Aston Martin’s famous DB bloodline, the new DB12. First of all, I want to talk about the rear tires. For a start, this is a 325 section rear tire, that’s enormous. That is supercar wide. Then there’s the fact that this is Michelin Pilot Sport 5 S,

The first OEM application of that tire. And finally, these three little letters down here. AML, that tells you that this is a bespoke tire, designed in collaboration with Michelin specifically for the DB12. Even the Valkyrie didn’t get that, and I think this rear tire tells you an awful lot

About just how serious Aston is about this new car. But before we go any further, let me have a look at the view. The new 185,000 pound or $245,000 DB12, is fairly obviously the successor to the DB 11, but as that rear tire hints, Aston is adamant that this is much more than just some Botox and a bum lift. The car is 80% new, with a chassis that’s 7% stiffer,

And although there is no V12 option this time, the Mercedes sourced V8 was always the better option in the 11, and the four liter engine has been given larger diameter turbos and modified cam profiles, resulting in a whopping 671 brake horsepower, and 590 pounds-foot of torque.

Aston Martin says that this is the first in a line of new core cars, that will better reflect a company that has a Formula One team. As such, they’re claiming that this new DB12 is not just a Grand Tourer, but the world’s first Super Tourer. Which is interesting,

I mean, just adding super to something, well it comes with quite a lot of pressure. Could it take away from the tourer, because, I mean, a bowl is just a bowl until you add super to it, and it becomes one of the largest sporting events

In the world and Mario, well, he’s just a plumber, and well, he is just a man until he takes his glasses off, isn’t he? Super somehow brings with it more complex connotations than grand. Super doesn’t just mean bigger or better. It takes things to a whole new realm.

So is this less rounded, less comfortable, less of a tourer, now that it’s an ST rather than a GT? Well, the good news is, no, it’s not less of a tourer actually. We’ve got lots of modes in here, so we’ve got individual, we’ve now got wet as well,

Which is important because it allows the sort of the normal GT mode to be, well, that bit more sporty. But I was afraid that it might give it too much edge, but not at all. It’s definitely still a nicely riding, comfortable, long distance car this.

So today, the plan is to put some serious miles under its tread blocks on the famous Route Napoléon, and it’s fabulous and varied tarmac tributaries. The overriding impression when I first got into this, it’s actually of what a smooth car it is and kind of how light it feels.

It’s a bit like one of those cakes or puddings that looks like it could be really rich and dense and heavy, and then you put it in your mouth and it’s, (gasps), light as a feather. If you want numbers, then Aston claims a dry weight of 1685 kilos or just over 3,700 pounds,

Which is distributed 48, 52, front to rear. There’s no doubting that this is a big car. You look at those new mirrors and you certainly see the extra 22 millimeters at the rear. But for all that this feels big when you first get into it

And look at that huge bonnet out there and those arches, as soon as you start driving, it does that wonderful thing of shrinking around you. As ever, a lot of that, I think, is down to the accuracy of the steering. Good steering generally makes a car feel smaller, as far as I’m concerned.

It’s got a steering ratio of 13.09 to one, which is quicker than a Huracán Tecnica, not quite as quick as a Ferrari F8, which is down to about 11.9, but quick nonetheless. They’ve talked a lot about feel, particularly around the straight ahead, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s feel

In terms of sort of the tactility of the tire and the surface beneath it, but it certainly gives you a great sense of connection, and with that increased integrity to the ride, I suppose, that’s what makes the whole car just feel, well, underneath you. The suspension is familiar double wishbones at the front

And a multilink setup at the rear, with an anti-roll bar on each axle. The front tires by the way, are also wide. 275 35 ZR 21s, but there is never any sense that comfort has been compromised. So this is certainly still a tourer, definitely in GT mode.

Even in sport mode, I think it is still comfortable enough, and that’s down to these new Bilstein DTX dampers, which have a 40% greater sort of bandwidth in what they’re able to cope with. As such, you can also feel that the way it steps up when you go from mode to mode,

You can also feel the way it changes with the E-diff, ’cause this is the first DB car to get an E-diff, and it’s definitely made a real difference. As well as being 29% more powerful than the old DB11. It also has a 13% shorter final drive,

So it’s kept the same gear ratio spacing but it’s a different gearbox and a shorter final drive. So it’s definitely more accelerative. This is reflected in the figures too, with a naught to 60 mile an hour timer of 3.5 seconds, shaving half a second off the old V8 DB11s figure.

And while we’re on the subject of the gearbox, the significant change is that the pedals now move with the wheel rather than remaining fixed. I think that’s a slight shame, but I realize plenty will think differently. Anyway, there’s certainly not the biggest change to the interior.

We’ve stopped here, because just over there is Grasse, which if you read Patrick Süskind’s excellent novel, you might know as the perfume capital of the world, but before that it was known for its tanneries, which brings us obviously to the leather in here. How is that for a tenuous link for you?

But the interior of this car really is quite important, so I think it was important to have a pause to really take it in. Obviously the last car, well, perhaps wasn’t quite up to snuff in terms of its technology, and I feel like this has really taken sort of two leaps.

I think in some ways it sort of played into its hands, because you might think the next step would be to go all touchscreen, but now I feel people are coming back from that, and combining a touchscreen again with more tactile things, because that’s what people have been asking for,

And this, well, does it exceptionally well. This rotary switch here for changing the modes, and these lovely barrels here for temperature and volume and the fan, even the little switch here which is a bit like the one you find in a Gulf or a Porsche, for example, just covered in leather.

They’re all so tactile. They’re so tactile that they make you want to just sort of fiddle with them as you go along. It’s a bit like having the bezel on a watch. You just want to sort of sit there and fidget with it. Aston Martin has also designed

All the sort of the electrical architecture behind this, so it has its own scripts and fonts and all that sort of thing. There have been a few little glitches in this car. They did say it’s not quite the final iteration yet, but fundamentally it all works well. We’ve got Apple CarPlay,

Screen down there rather than up there. Keeps it all nice and clean here. Does mean you look down at it a bit, but fundamentally it is a huge leap forward from before. Still the odd Mercedes bit here and there, but I like this new wheel as well with a smaller airbag,

And of course the paddles behind there. Overall? Well, a bit of a tactile triumph I think. Now, if you like your media in tactile form, then why not think about joining the Hagerty Driver’s Club, because you’ll get a magazine with some lovely paper stock

To enjoy, whilst your eyes flit over the words and pictures. The Driver’s Club also brings with it roadside assistance and access to Hagerty’s online valuation tool, but they’re slightly less tactile. Still appealing though. Now for our next piece of road, well that’ll be familiar to anyone that knows the number plate BMT 214A. This is the road that features at the beginning of “Golden Eye,” when Pierce Brosnan as 007, in his Aston Martin DB5, takes on Onatopp in her Ferrari 355 GTS. It’s a spectacular road, and the fact that the Aston was against a Ferrari is really interesting and pertinent, because since 2022,

The boss of Aston Martin has been somebody called Amedeo Felisa, who used to be the boss at Ferrari, and he has bought in various people from Ferrari to help tune this car. Can you feel the effect of that? I think you can actually, “Yes.” This has a real composure to it,

And it seems to pivot much more around the center of the car. There is an agility here, a balance, and an edge when you turn into corners, that lovely sense of it carving through corners, which you get in a Ferrari, to say it’s just dial back a little bit,

So it’s not exactly the same, but you can tell there’s that sort of little bit of Ferrari DNA, that bit of know-how in there. I mean this is a narrow road with pretty big drops and severe consequences. And when you get into this car initially and see sort of how big it is,

I don’t think you would imagine you could drive it like this, particularly if you’d driven a DB11 before. The nose on this is so much better. It turns in, the rear follows, and it feels like it has a much shorter wheel base. I love the fact as well,

When you go up through the modes, you notice that E-diff and the way that the car just gets more agility on turning. Some of that will be from the dampers, but it’s definitely from the diff as well. The other nice thing is that for all this car’s huge power

And torque, there is a linearity to the delivery. That means it’s really easily deployable. The response from the throttle as well is phenomenally good, which does not in any way feel lazy and it retains that lovely smoothness through changes in direction as you push it.

Pushing it to the very limit of those huge tires certainly takes some doing, but go beyond the limit with the ESP and new nine stage traction control turned completely off, and the DB12 still hangs together and retains its surprising sense of feedback and control.

Something I would perhaps like a little bit more of is sound. ‘Cause I know this engine can sound really kind of dirty. I suppose that’s the fact that it isn’t an out-and-out super car or sports car. Sounds good, but just in sports plus, it would be nicer if perhaps there was a bit more. Of course, it does help if you’ve got the odd rock tunnel to amplify it. You know what? I don’t think Onatopp would’ve known which way Bond went if he was in this.

After a couple more runs through the spectacular rock arches, with the sky turning pink and the light fading, there was really only one place we were ever going to head to finish the day in the DB12. I thought it was appropriate that we should finish overlooking Monaco,

Not because that’s where JB finished his journey in “Golden Eye,” but because DB retired down there. David Brown, Sir David Brown, the man that gave his initials to this famous lineage. In fact, he was retired down there when he gave his blessing to Aston Martin to reinstate the DB line with the DB7.

And what of the DB12, does it fit in that bloodline? Yes, yes it does. It’s not a revolutionary car. It’s not doing anything particularly new. Take the aesthetics for example, the design language. We’ve sort of seen it before really, it’s something of a DB11 with a DBS perhaps,

But the end result, very attractive indeed. And the mechanicals, there’s nothing revolutionary in terms of the wider automotive spectrum in there. Things like the E-diff, new to the DB range, but not new overall. But the mechanical ingredients that they’ve taken and the way that they’ve honed them with this new team behind them,

Have made something really rather good. Is it a whole new category of car, this Super Tourer? Not really to be honest, but it is a very good DB, and all that that stands for, and that’s more than enough.