The Route Napoléon, which climbs north from the French Riviera to Grenoble, is broadly thought-about among the best driving roads in Europe, with a spectacular assortment of slender switchbacks and high-speed curves related by transient straights. A lot of it runs via nationwide parkland, so visitors is mild. It is hardly a secret, although, and you will find teams of motorcyclists, driving tour teams, and—inevitably—campers additionally on the route. The perfect automotive for the Route Napoléon is one which’s tight and responsive within the twisties, poised via the quick curves, and with deep reserves of energy with a purpose to rip previous dawdlers within the transient passing zones and roar triumphantly via the valleys. One thing just like the Aston Martin DB12.
The DB12 is a giant automotive, and it feels loads huge once you’re threading it alongside the slender streets of the Côte d’Azur. Happily, the steering, which has been revised for larger precision each on- and off-center, makes putting this automotive straightforward. It is the identical quickness as earlier than—2.4 turns lock to lock—and the ratio is fastened, which aids predictability. The extent of energy help varies with velocity and drive mode, however not wildly so. On-center precision was additionally a key high quality within the design of the DB12-specific Michelin Pilot Sport 5S tires (275/35-ZR21 up entrance, 325/30-ZR21 on the rear).
So, too, was grip, and the DB12 has loads. Pushing it as laborious as we dared, it was unattainable to upset this chassis—even when shocked by a tightening blind nook or out of the blue booting the accelerator powering out of a curve. Aston claims 52 % of the automotive’s mass rides on the rear wheels, and the DB12 feels extremely balanced, with keen turn-in and little front-end push.
Chassis tuning for the brand new DB12 was undertaken with the objective of preserving journey high quality however sharpening dealing with. The three predominant drive modes—GT, Sport, and Sport+—are joined by the brand new Moist and Particular person modes. There are additionally 9 ranges of traction management as soon as you turn off ESC (though that functionality wasn’t energetic on the pre-production automobiles we drove). Director of car efficiency Simon Newton talks about wanting to permit the automotive to “breathe,” which meant tuning the brand new Bilstein DTX adaptive dampers to permit some vertical movement even within the firmest setting. That firmest setting does protect a measure of journey high quality—extra so than most Mercedes-AMG or BMW M automobiles of their max-attack mode.
The largest mechanical change from DB11 to 12 is below the hood. The dual-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 once more hails from AMG however is way brawnier than the DB11’s. Bigger turbochargers, revised cam profiles, and the next compression ratio push output to 671 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, an extra 143 horses and 77 pound-feet. The brand new V-8 additionally tops the beforehand out there V-12’s 630 horses and 516 pound-feet. (The V-12 is not presently on supply for the DB12, however Aston insiders trace that it might make a return.)
As it’s, the V-8 definitely would not disappoint. The engine’s fats torque band—the height runs from 2750 to 6000 rpm—means the turbo V-8 is brutally sturdy all through the rev vary. And does this engine pack a punch. Aston quotes a 60-mph time of three.5 seconds, however on the transfer, the DB12 appears even faster. Out on the Route Napoléon, flooring the suitable pedal despatched the automotive hurtling towards the subsequent nook, and it made even the diciest passing alternatives out of the blue viable. Our solely quibble is the aggressive throttle mapping in Sport+ mode.
An engine that may punt a automotive ahead with the pressure of this V-8 requires brakes which are equally forceful when reining a automotive in. The agency, reassuring left pedal in our DB12 squeezed carbon-ceramic rotors that have been nicely as much as the duty. A brand new choice, they save practically 60 kilos over the usual iron stoppers, though they often emit a faint squeal below mild purposes. The beefy rotors are seen via new, 21-inch wheels (9.5 inches huge up entrance, 10.5 inches on the rear). The wheel dimension is a rise from 20 inches within the DB11, but the brand new cast wheels are collectively lighter by some 17 kilos.
The DB12 once more makes use of a ZF eight-speed rear-mounted transaxle, and the ratios are the identical as earlier than. The ultimate-drive ratio is 13 % shorter, nonetheless, to help in-gear acceleration, so requires extra midrange thrust typically could be answered with out downshifting. Aston has moved the big shift paddles from the column to the steering wheel, however you will not have a lot want for them, so intuitive is that this gearbox. No matter mode, it was amazingly prescient with its downshifting into corners and holding on to a gear when accelerating laborious out of them. Within the reverse state of affairs, when motoring gently via a busy city middle or at parking-lot speeds, this torque-converter automated reveals not one of the jerky hesitation that may happen with a dual-clutch gearbox.
The Route Napoléon is not a lot of a spot for stylin’ and profilin’, however the French Riviera definitely is, and in that regard, the DB12 simply holds its personal, although onlookers might not be capable to inform it from its predecessor. Take a look at the DB12, and also you’d assume that—sort of like Fonzie trying out his excellent ducktail within the mirror and simply placing his comb again in his pocket—Aston Martin’s designers rolled a DB11 into the studio and determined, “Eh, we actually cannot enhance upon that.” Really, Aston chief inventive officer Marek Reichman claims that many of the physique panels are new or altered (the doorways carry over, and the roof is from the DBS). The look is so comparable, although, that the DB12 giveaways are largely within the particulars: a bigger grille that raises the nostril, reshaped headlamps, a extra distinguished entrance splitter, and new sideview mirrors with minimalist housings perched on reshaped arms.
The near-identical physique is draped over Aston’s bonded and riveted aluminum construction, tweaked for DB12 responsibility. Modifications to the engine crossbrace, the entrance crossmember, the rear bulkhead, and the underbody trays have inched up the structural rigidity by a claimed 7 %. The entrance monitor is fractionally wider (0.2 inch) and the rear barely extra so (0.9 inch).
Whereas Aston strived for continuity exterior, that was not the case with the inside, the place it changed the earlier poofy sprint with a slimmer unit that makes the entrance compartment really feel considerably extra spacious, though the greenhouse (which is unchanged) stays fairly shallow. Three totally different seats are on supply: Our automotive had the midrange Sport Plus seats, which had loads of lateral help, however the controls on the aspect of the console are considerably fiddly. As earlier than, token rear seats are sized for a briefcase or backpack quite than a human being. Aromatic Bridge of Weir leather-based and Alcantara lined virtually each inside floor of the automotive we drove, which additionally featured carbon-fiber trim, though patrons face a plethora of decisions.
Aston has binned the Mercedes-sourced infotainment system from the DB11 in favor of a brand new unit designed in-house. The display, now totally built-in into the ramp-like middle console, could seem undersized at 10.3 inches, but it surely seems good, and the house display reveals a number of capabilities without delay, together with climate-control shortcuts similar to “heat fingers.” Apple and Android smartphone mirroring are current and wi-fi. And the system is ready up for over-the-air updates.
Fortunately, Aston did not go full touchscreen in a misguided quest for modernity, as an alternative preserving the tactility of high-quality switchgear, together with curler switches for temperature, fan velocity, and audio quantity, plus a smattering of buttons for main driving points (damper firmness, exhaust quantity, and stability management), in addition to the parking digicam and a few local weather capabilities. Contact-sensitive nubs on the steering-wheel spokes are just like Mercedes and are not any higher right here. You choose the drive mode through a big dial on the middle console with the beginning/cease button at its middle. The wi-fi smartphone charging mat is positioned on the console’s open decrease tier, which can trigger some nervousness for many who don’t love their cellphone out of sight; a wired connection will also be discovered inside the middle armrest.
Aston Martin factors out that in latest occasions, a wholesale model change has been accompanied by a plus-two improve in model designation: DB7 to DB9, DB9 to DB11. (The ultra-limited DB10 apparently would not rely.) The brand new automotive’s DB12 nameplate, together with its continuity in look, tells you that that is extra of a complete improve. But it surely’s one which places this Aston on the pinnacle of the world’s high-glam sports activities tourers, and it makes the DB12 a super machine for taking over one among Europe’s most celebrated roads.
2024 Aston Martin DB12
Car Sort: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct gasoline injection
Displacement: 243 in3, 3982 cm3
Energy: 671 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
Wheelbase: 110.4 in
Size: 186.0 in
Width: 78.0 in
Top: 51.0 in
Trunk Quantity: 9 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 4100 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 3.3 sec
100 mph: 7.5 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.1 sec
Prime Pace: 202 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 17/14/22 mpg
Deputy Editor, Critiques and Options
Joe Lorio has been obsessive about automobiles since his Matchbox days, and he acquired his first subscription to Automotive and Driver at age 11. Joe began his profession at Vehicle Journal below David E. Davis Jr., and his work has additionally appeared on web sites together with Amazon Autos, Autoblog, AutoTrader, Hagerty, Hemmings, KBB, and TrueCar.