When I was about 10 years old, I remember my dad enjoying the view of vintage cars driving along on the motorway. Such was his appreciation for those automobiles, that we would find ourselves driving behind them, doing a mere 80km/h, with a bemused Dimitris at the back of the car, not knowing what the fuss was all about. All I could tell at the time was that old cars are something for elders to admire. It is the way of things.
When we are young, we are more edgy and tend to appreciate performance more than style, freshness more than maturity and cannot fully grasp how modern design features evolve over the years into timeless class.
A few months ago the ravishing Aston Martin DB11 appeared on the international automotive scene. Words are poor to describe the sophisticated aerodynamics, elaborate suspension design, titanic torque and overwhelming acceleration. As one might expect from a 2016 niche automobile, it is equipped with all the technology to transcend modern needs. It is thus confusing to see people, who are genuinely fond of Aston Martin and perhaps also own more than one of those historic hand-built masterpieces, to be somewhat disenchanted by the latest member of the Aston Martin dynasty.
Input from social media is perhaps not a good source of feedback, since responsibility is somewhat limited and comments could be the result of bias or ignorance. However, in some cases, a significant pool of messages from a certain category/age-group of people connected to the brand around the world, may in fact lead to a statistical approach of the group's opinion, provided one can read between the lines.
The most common negative remarks are in fact related to the use of cutting-edge technology on the new model, which may be affecting the “character” of the iconic brand. Some comment on the use of a rather large central revolutions counter, in contrast to the “traditional” side-by-side instrument arrangement of previous models and some find the entertainment/GPS screen “too large”. Regarding the exterior, details on the rear of the car, lack of but only two badges, the clamshell bonnet, are just a few comments on the perception that the DB11 is a “distant” relative to the other Aston Martins.
In fact the DB11 makes perfect sense in 2017 and in the years to come. There is little gain from going over how the shape is designed, so that “the front-end lift is reduced by the gill-like ‘Curlicue’ on the wing, releasing high-pressure air from the wheel arch and directing it down the side of the car”*. I am not even sure most understand the physics involved in the 600bhp and 700Nm of torque, which deliver 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds. Even cylinder deactivation, which reduces the CO2 emissions of the monstrous 5.2L V12 engine is perhaps trivial for some. Let’s talk about the “big screen in the middle”.
So, life has been good to you and you can realize dreams in the shape of a DB11. What is the first thing you’re likely to do? "Drive it as fast and as far", I hear you say. Enjoy the changes of scenery, the changes of seasons and light and try to soak up as much of the experience as humanly possible. Well, chances are you will visit at least one big, rather complicated city while doing this. It could be London to catch up with friends, Paris to fall in love, Athens to break up, Brussels for some Flemish beef stew at Grande Place, Genoa because we like Ligurians, or eternal Rome, since all the roads lead there. Anyone, who has driven in any one of those places, knows the GPS screen is never big enough, when you are desperately trying to find your way around historic urban centers in dense traffic.
Regarding the “British character” of the vehicle and it’s class (a Greek word with a very British meaning), this is expressed by Aston Martin in over 72 options for the individual definition of luxury on each DB11. Enough said. But if the DB11 is exemplary from every aspect, what’s wrong with all these people criticizing?
It is not so much about the DB11 as it is about the DB9. The famous predecessor has been a renowned Aston Martin “epigone” for over a decade and has established a “court” of admirers, only too loyal to cede authority to the “newcomer” without a fight.
Perhaps the moderate use of electronics on the DB9 dashboard and the insistence on using analogue instruments, on a side-by-side layout gives a sense of occasion, brings back fond memories of the DB5 and remains a last tribute to the Aston Martin “horologes style”. Heritage is the eternal guide, but times change.
This heritage was built on the technological achievement that Aston Martin, any Aston Martin was as it’s time. The DB11 is as much a milestone in the automotive industry, as the DB9 was twelve years ago, as the DB5 was before that. When you proceed with the purchase of this legend, you are securing in your possession a remarkable accumulation of engineering genius, customized to fit the needs of our era.
Still, for those lingering on the past, unwilling to accept change, there is no better time to invest in the technology that represents you, the technology of your youth. By owning and enjoying a “monument of the automotive landscape”, such as an historic Aston Martin you can "travel" your senses back in time.
But if you are going to go classic, go it all the way! Place a vintage map of the “Iron Curtain” times in the glove box compartment, tucked in nicely along with a Walther PPK and a portable GPS (just in case).
*AutoEXPRESS New Aston Martin DB11: price, specs and video