I’ve always been competitive – with an elder sister and a younger brother, it’s hard not to be. When we were young, one of the places where that competition would take shape was on the go-carting track, which our Dad thought would be a good introduction to driving before we were let loose on the roads.
That competitive streak has carried on into adulthood: me and my brother love going to track days and experience days and getting our hands on whatever cars we can drive. But, after test driving the new Aston Martin DB11, I think I might just have edged a few points ahead of him. I haven’t stopped grinning since I stepped out of the car.
Having driven a range of Audis and BMWs over the years as company cars, it always feels special to sit behind the wheel of a supercar. The test drive day didn’t start with a grin though. Standing next to the DB11, it’s hard not to feel nervous.
It looks like a “big” car; it’s broad, it’s muscular and it looks like it means business. The V12 badges remind you that this is the most-powerful production car Aston Martin has created, with 600 horse power coming from its 5.2-litre engine.
Despite having driven the Aston Martin DB9 – along with Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Caterhams and even the Ariel Atom – I could still feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end as I slipped into the driver’s seat, desperate not to prang this beautiful car. Only a fool wouldn’t treat a vehicle this powerful with respect, especially in the wet. I needn’t have worried though. The staff at Aston Martin Edinburgh were great – they took me for a spin around the block to ease my nerves and then left me to it, letting me roam through Edinburgh and the Borders to get a good mix of town driving and open road.
After those first five minutes, the nerves just evaporated. This may be a supercar, but this is a supercar that you could live with every single day of the year. The technology inside the car is lightyears ahead of the DB9. The grip was incredible – even in the wet, the car felt sure-footed and clung to the road.
And the power was phenomenal. On the open road, the DB11 lived up to all the hype, putting that grin on my face and fixing it there for the rest of the day, the week, the month.
What really struck me was the noise, especially when I moved from the “grand tourer” (GT) setting through “sport” and onto “sport plus”. It was an epic sound. It was so special that I had to make a recording of it on my phone so that I could treasure it.
While it might be a supercar on the open road, the DB11 was docile enough in the town that I think it could quite comfortably become a car that you could use every day. The vehicle is covered in cameras, which make parking such a wide car a piece of cake, allowing you to avoid scuffing the wheels on the curb.
We even took the car shopping – my wife wanted to pop into Marks & Spencer on the way back to the garage – and, sitting in the car park, I noticed how everyone slowed down as they strolled past, eager to get a look at its gorgeous lines. It was the same cruising through town – pedestrians, bus passengers, other drivers, everyone stopped and looked at the car.
It may be a luxury car, but the DB11 has that same magical quality as a Rolex watch. Some luxury items come with a health warning – don’t do this with them or don’t do that with them. But you can wear a Rolex watch every day, you can swim in it, you can play squash in it, and it doesn’t make it any less special.
It’s the same with the Aston Martin – you could drive it every day, you don’t have to lock it away in your garage and only bring it out on dry summer’s days. That’s a very special combination of luxury and practicality.
Despite a day spent glued to the driver’s seat, I had no aches or pains after hours on the road. The seats were comfortable and the dashboard was simple and straightforward. If I had one gripe about the car, it would be the central console, with its satellite navigation, media player and other gizmos. I only had a day with the car, but I ended up switching off a lot of the electronic wizardry on the centre console – it just wasn’t intuitive enough for me.
I’m sure I’d get the hang of it if I sat down and learned how to operate all the toys, but for the test drive it was just easier to switch them off and concentrate on the road. In contrast, the dashboard was easy to follow and didn’t distract from the driving.
You can’t take an Aston Martin out for a spin and not mention James Bond. When I found out that I would be driving a DB11, all the images from the old films started flashing through my mind – along with the fantastic Aston Martin DB10 concept car built for the film Spectre.
When I was handed the keys, I did feel a tingle and – just for a brief moment – imagined myself as 007. But just for a moment, I promise. That’s because the DB11 is more than simply a supercar from the silver screen. It exceeded all my expectations, especially with that beautiful noise.
Thank you to Aston Martin Edinburgh, Bankhead Drive, EH11 4DJ, for providing the Aston Martin DB11 for the test drive. Prices start from £157,900. Call 0131 442 2800 for more details about 2017 delivery.