Why the Aston Martin DB11 V8 can compete with its powerful V12 sibling

The new V8-powered DB11 proves that sometimes less is more.

The Aston Martin DB11 V8
The Aston Martin DB11 V8 –Aston Martin

The Aston Martin DB11 V8 follows in the more powerful footsteps of its V12 sibling. The 4.0-liter V8 engine has 503 horsepower and 498 pound-feet of torque, which, although impressive, is 97 horsepower less than what’s in the V12. One might think that makes it a lesser or watered-down DB11, but spend some time in the driver’s seat, and the V8 proves without a doubt that less is more.

The engineers at Aston Martin didn’t simply stick a smaller engine under the hood and call it a day. Instead, they customized this new DB11 with modified air intake, exhaust, and wet sump lubrication systems along with new engine mounts. They even reprogrammed the software that regulates the throttle to ensure the V8 still feels and sounds like an Aston Martin.

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The interior is, quite simply, stunning. The leather that adorns most every surface is smooth and supple to the touch. Every bit is hand-stitched by a single person who, according to Aston Martin, can be identified as left- or right-handed simply by looking at the stitches. And while the DB11 is ready to be a comfortable cruiser, the seats are a reminder that it’s just as ready to be a performance sports car. Behind the wheel, the experience is one of sublime luxury. This is not a flashy brand with gratuitous chrome trims and overdone interior details. An Aston Martin is subdued and elegant. It’s understated. It’s not interested in screaming for anyone’s attention.

The DB11 posts a 0-62 miles-per-hour time of 4.0 seconds and has a top speed of 187 miles per hour. We can vouch for its impressive acceleration, but since our drive took us on public roads, we’ll have to take Aston Martin’s word on that top speed.

Having driven the DB11 V12, we were prepared to be disappointed by the V8. Less horsepower? Who wants less horsepower? Here’s where Aston Martin pulls off a bit of a trick: Yes, it has less horsepower, but the handling of the V8 is superior and more appealing. It has the feel of a sports car without the usual harshness that comes as a part of the package.

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This is partly due to its weight, which is 253 pounds lighter than the V12. The automaker shifted the vehicle’s center of gravity, too, with a 49 front/51 rear weight distribution, which is an improvement over the V12’s 51/49 setup. There’s also a specially calibrated eight-speed automatic transmission. These changes make the V8 more of a performance car, and that makes it more fun to drive.

During our test drive, the DB11 showed off its handling prowess by staying firmly planted on twisty roads, resulting in an effortless drive. This is a performance car, but it’s also a GT, or Gran Turismo, which means it’s designed for leisurely high-speed drives and won’t exhaust the driver at the end of the day.

There’s not a heck of a lot to complain about, but we did find one minor issue on tight corners: The A-pillar is a bit thick, so it blocks the driver’s view, but this truly is a minor issue. It’s a testament to how well Aston Martin designed this car that it comes down to something this minute to pass for a complaint.

And really, we don’t want to complain. It’s a joy driving the Aston Martin DB11 V8, and there’s not much that can detract from the pure thrill of being at the wheel of such a beautiful, powerful car. It lives up to the precedent set by the V12 and then some.

The Aston Martin DB11 V8 is available now at a starting price of $198,995.