“The DB9 oozes charisma and is a fast, utterly enjoyable car to drive.”
The Aston Martin DB9 is one of the brand's core models, and is offered in two body styles, a four-seater coupe and convertible (called the Volante). You’d need nine Skoda Citigos to match its power, its 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 510bhp, putting it firmly in supercar territory. It's fast, but it's also luxurious, with sumptuous materials in the interior and luxury items such as a 700W stereo. Designed as a Grand Tourer, not an out-and-out sports car, the DB9 also oozes charm with its classical look – which has only been tweaked since the original's 2004 launch, as it takes on the Mercedes SL65 and the Bentley Continental GT. In an age of engine downsizing and drive-assistance gadgetry, the Aston Martin DB9 is unapologetically old school and much loved because of it.
The DB9 is a traditional GT car, meaning it's rear-wheel drive with the engine in the front. Its 6.0-litre V12 is a stunning engine, with an amazing sound as it growls out its 510bhp. But even with all that power, it's very easy to drive with a six-speed semi-automatic flappy-paddle gearbox. The ride is comfortable and the steering not too heavy, so the DB9 goes exactly where you want it to go. The carbon-ceramic brakes are strong but the pedal has a nice, progressive feel so you can stop smoothly. The adjustable suspension gives three choices of ride and steering, with the Normal mode comfortable around town while maintaining lots of grip around corners. In the stiffest mode, Track, the control is excellent and the car flattens out any bumps in the road. It's never unsettled or rough, giving you a satisfying confidence that you can easily keep it under control.
As a premium car, the DB9's interior focuses on luxury and comfort. As you open the door, the polished door sills and Aston Martin ‘Made in England’ plaque tell you that you're stepping into something a little special. There are leather, hand-stitched seats, which have electric adjustment. There are also premium finishes, such as an Alcantara roof lining, as well as optional packs that offer a racier look with carbonfibre coverings. However, while sat-nav and Bluetooth are standard, the Bluetooth won't stream music and the lack of a touchscreen is unusual for a car of half the price.
The DB9 is well proven and has been continually improved since the first model debuted in 2004. More than 14,000 have been sold since, and while Aston Martin is an independent maker (not owned by anybody else), it's proud to point out that it uses premium suppliers including Bosch, Brembo brakes and ZF transmissions. While not a match for the likes of Porsche, Aston Martins are more reliable than they've ever been.
The DB9 is officially a two-plus-two, but the rear seats aren’t going to fit any full-size adult. They’re more useful for extra stowage space rather than people, with a 227-litre boot in the coupe, which drops to 187 litres in the convertible because of the folding roof. The Mercedes SL has more space, but it doesn’t have a back seat like the DB9, while the Bentley GT manages to do both, with 358 litres of space and a back seat.
Value for money
The Aston is not a practical purchase, but when you compare it to its rivals, it isn't bad value for money. Unconvinced? The only other coupes/convertibles on the market powered by 12-cylinder engines are the Mercedes SL65, which costs substantially more to buy, and the W12-powered Bentley Continental GT, which is closer but still more expensive than the DB9. While the Aston Martin may lack some infotainment and driver-assistance systems, some buyers may actually prefer this. Where it doesn’t lack is power, speed and sophisticated performance technology, from its lightweight aluminium chassis to its three-mode adaptive suspension. Its performance figures are on par with the Bentley, and it's only a tad slower then the Mercedes, but its lower price means it offers better bang for your buck than both.
No one buys a DB9 with running costs in mind. Figures of 19.5mpg economy and 333g/km CO2 emissions underline this car's focus on luxury, exclusivity and speed, and while they are an improvement over the previous model, efficiency is way down on the list of priorities. It's thirstier than the Mercedes SL65 AMG, with its V12 delivering 24.4mpg and 270g/km, but the Aston is on par with the W12-powered Bentley Continental GT Coupe, which has the same 19.5mpg but emits 338g/km of CO2. Aston Martin claims the same figures for the Volante as the coupe, which easily betters the Bentley Continental GT Convertible's 17.0mpg and 385g/km. This means that the DB9 has a theoretical range of 340 miles, but it's in the highest tax band, and it's likely to become more expensive to run as pollution legislation becomes stricter.