Much like the State of California, the drought at Aston Martin is finally over, something we discovered while taking the long-awaited DB11 for a drive through the rain-soaked mountain passes east of San Diego. The British maker, long known as the ride of choice for superspy James Bond, has gone through some tough times in recent years, but with substantial new funding in hand, the all-new DB11 marks the start of an unprecedented product assault that will see at least seven new products roll out in the years ahead. If the DB11 is any indication of what's coming, Aston is in for a glorious future.
Visually, the new coupe is a stunner. Of course, there's that classic, yawning Aston grille that anchors a sculpted body that is both sensuous and sinister, much like so many of the femmes fatale James Bond has faced off with over the decades. The car's predecessor, the DB9, has been hailed as one of the most beautiful sports cars ever, but we'd argue that the DB11 (starting at $214,820) is even more of a stunner. The luscious look carries into the cabin, with its supple blend of leather, wood and metal finishes. The instrument panel is anchored, meanwhile, by a new infotainment display that is far easier to use than in previous Aston offerings. Credit the new relationship between the British maker and Germany's Mercedes-AMG.
Going forward, Aston will use the Mercedes electronic "architecture," a definite step forward. It will also start sharing V-8s designed and built by the high-performance AMG brand. But in the DB11, the engine is gloriously all Aston, a silky smooth twin-turbo 5.2-liter powertrain that explains why everyone, at some point in life, should own a V-12. It responds readily to the foot, so intuitively that you might think it is wired directly to your brain. Flatten the foot to the floorboards and you'll hit 60 in less than four seconds. The 2017 Aston Martin DB11 tops out at just slightly faster than 200 mph, but don't be surprised if you look for opportunities to drift off onto winding back roads, at the very least, to hear the guttural roar of that engine under wide-open acceleration.
You'll be in for another thrill as you dive into the first corner. We wondered what to expect when advised that this would be the first Aston Martin to trade classic hydraulic power steering for more energy-efficient electric assist. In many cars, that's a recipe for numbness. Not with the DB11. All the right road sensations passed through to our palms and fingertips, and the car responded with aplomb as we swerved and maneuvered up towards Mount Palomar and then back down again, occasionally having to make a quick adjustment to avoid gravel and dirt that had washed off the hills during a week of heavy storms.
With a car like this, dodging and darting, feeling the surge of power at our command, it's easy to imagine leading the double life of a Double-0 agent. The new Aston Martin DB11 is a car that anyone can bond with.