2013 Aston Martin DB9 is a DBS with more polished manners

For those of us who bemoan the passing of Aston’s DBS – which was replaced by the new Vanquish during the summer – news of the revised DB9 will come as welcome news.

The DB9 now has the same 510bhp power output as the outgoing DBS, the same pronounced rear boot ‘flip’ and more chiselled looks than the car it replaces.

The one downside is you’ll probably not realise it’s a new DB9, because, as is the problem with Astons these days, they all look far too much alike. The ‘light catcher’ feature which runs from the lower front bumper and continues along the sill of the car, will have you thinking it’s a new Vanquish, until you realise it lacks that car’s prominent carbon fibre front spoiler.

From the rear you’ll think DBS, until you spot the DB9’s more elegant lines, reminiscent of the outgoing Aston Martin Virage which ceases production with immediate effect.

And that sums up the problem with Aston’s design philosophy, there’s an uncomfortable display of narcissism in the brand’s self-love when it’s so easy to spot aspects of the DBS, Virage, One-77 and Vanquish in what is supposed to be a ‘freshened-up’ model.

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So, if the exterior design doesn’t hook you, how about what’s under the skin?

The previous-generation DB9 made good use of the 463bhp and 443 lb-ft (600 Nm) of torque from its 6.0 litre V12 engine. For the 2013 model year, the new AM11 engine takes some of the ‘Gen4’ VH architecture technology developed for the Vanquish and provides a significantly improved 510bhp and 458 lb-ft (620 Nm) from the same displacement.

Key features of the AM11 unit include a revised block and new head including dual variable valve timing, larger throttle bodies, uprated fuel pump, revised intake manifold and machined combustion chambers.

Power is fed to the rear-wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox and a standard limited-slip differential. The DB9’s performance is now just as rapid as its looks – with zero to 62mph being achieves in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 183 mph.

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The DB9 benefits from several other developments originally designed for the new Vanquish, including the ‘Gen4’ VH architecture version of the brand’s Adaptive Damping System (ADS). ADS includes three modes: Normal, Sport and Track, which helps broaden the DB9’s repertoire from mile-munching GT to out-and-out racer.

The DB9 now uses Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) discs – 398mm diameter at the front, 360mm at the rear – mounted using a ‘floating disc’ system. The CCM brakes save around 12.5 kg over a conventional cast iron system, improving steering feel, ride quality and handling. The calipers (also supplied by Brembo) feature six-piston units at the front and four-piston at the rear.

There are plenty more detail changes, both inside and outside the new DB9, including new arch-filling 20-inch wheels, electrically adjustable Sports seats with side airbags, Organic Electroluminescent (OEL) displays, optional reversing camera, optional leather headlining and two Carbon Packs, which comprises carbon fibre front splitter and rear diffuser, carbon fibre mirror arms and caps and dark tailpipes with a graphitic finish for the exterior, and for the interior a carbon fibre upper facia, carbon fibre gear selector paddles and carbon fibre door pulls.

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As an important side-note Aston’s 2013 DB9 now achieves compliance with the latest European pedestrian protection regulations and does so in a way that is invisible to the naked eye. All the changes are made to the underbody structure of the car including a lowered engine, new bonnet, front bumper construction and grille surround moulding.

“The new AM11 V12 engine together with our unique and patent pending solution for enhanced pedestrian protection – these are clear examples of the engineering excellence that continues to make Aston Martin the creator of the most desired and admired luxury sports cars in the world,” said Aston Martin’s CEO Dr Ulrich Bez.

The 2013 MY DB9 available to order now through Aston Martin dealers worldwide, priced within the UK at £131,995.

  • James

    Whilst this is a very striking looking car, and a marvel of British ingenuity, it suffers from another Aston problem that isnt mentioned in the article- it is simply too slow. Astons have been getting slower while their rivals are getting faster! The new vanquish has a top speed of 180 mph, and compare that to all the current Ferraris, Porsches, the current Corvette line up, the Nissan GTR and the old Vanquish, and you have a car that is poor value for money, and slower than all of its rivals. All Astons are sold on their looks and heritage alone. Rant over.

    • That’s a very interesting point James, and one that I hadn’t considered. On the one hand, most customers will not be that bothered by the new DB9’s absolute performance – 510bhp and 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds is certainly quick enough to raise the pulse, but what you’re referring to fits more into the scope of ‘bragging rights’, which is an important factor in deciding which cars are rivals (and therefore if it represents good value).

      The blame lies in a large part with customers though – a lot of these cars are bought as ‘trophies’ and the kind of buyer drawn to the brand is perhaps choosing an Aston DB9 rather than a new yacht.

      Aston Martin has won the ‘Coolest Brand’ award for three successive years, which certainly influences they way they choose to market their cars.

      A few years ago, as we were undertaking a group test with the latest Vantage 4.7, I jumped into our M3 Saloon to drive home – the BMW was faster, better balanced, more fun… and ‘half’ the price.