The 2024 Aston Martin DB12 Super Tourer is the latest entrant into the long line of DB touring cars that Aston has built over the years, cars that were driven by the likes of Carroll Shelby, Rafael Nadal, Elle Macpherson and of course, James Bond.
That’s the obvious part.
Less obvious is the DB12’s “Super Tourer” nomenclature. Not just that but according to Aston, it’s the world’s first Super Tourer. We’ve heard about “grand tourers” or “grand touring automobiles” before, and the DB12 fits the mold: long-hooded, big wheels, gutsy V8 power, 2 + 2 cabin, traditional trunk, and so on. It’s a body style that Aston has mastered over the decades – it’s celebrating its 110th
anniversary this year – but it’s what’s under the hood and in the details that add the “super” to the formula.
Take the brakes, for example; for the first time in a DB, they’ve fitted carbon ceramic items, and more than that, they’re standard. They’re shrouded by lightweight wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 5 S rubber, which is a first for a road car. They’ve also added a rear e-differential, variable traction control and have tweaked the suspension’s springs and Bilstein active dampers to give you the performance of a sports car. Think up to 1.1 g of lateral acceleration with the chassis compliance you need over long drives.
We’ll see how all that comes together on the spidery roads around France’s Côte d’Azur in a minute but for now, just look the thing. The hood is the perfect length, the cab just rearward enough to strike a perfectly balanced profile while the new wheels – measuring 21”, another DB first – are works of art themselves, finished to look as if milled from a single slab of whatever precious metal you can imagine.
This being an Aston, appealing details abound; the instantly recognizable grille has been pulled wider but is thinner along the x-axis for a squatter look, the headlight housings feature a trifecta of LED DRL bulbs designed to line up with the tops of the side grilles, items that are available in carbon fibre or aluminum with an oh-so-perfect “Aston Martin” inscription. The roof can either be body-coloured or finished in exposed carbon fibre and the rear comes to a beautiful taper punctuated by thin wraparound taillights. A newly-designed Aston Martin logo – each one handcrafted by jewelers in Birmingham, UK – is the perfect cherry on top of an exquisite exterior.
Inside, the diamond-print leather seating is the first detail that meets the eye, while the generous offerings of mechanical buttons and dials as opposed to a touch surfaces are welcome. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is just the right size and now sprouts shift paddles, and the 15-speaker, 1,170-watt Bowers and Wilkins audio system would work in a three-row SUV, let alone a barely four-person sports car. Everything is placed within easy reach of the driver, including the 10.25” infotainment display which features an all-new OS with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The whole affair is an exercise in tight packaging; the way the drive mode selector takes the form of a bezel ‘round the glassy start button is smart, as is the toggle-like shifter that, while very Porsche-like, does well to reduce overall clutter.
The seating position is right on, just back enough so you know you’re in something special, with controls falling nicely to hand. It’s all good, but I was disappointed to find that the gauge cluster is now a digital display, meaning there are no ultra-elegant analogue dials that Astons are so well known for. You can choose from between two gauge styles, but unfortunately neither feature the counter-clockwise tachometer seen on the DB9 or One-77. That’s a shame, but this is a car that will make you forget about all that right quickly once you hit the road and open the taps.
Power from the twin-turbo V8 is rated at 671 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, all sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic that features a shorter final drive than the outgoing DB11. It’s enough for a 0-100 km/h sprint of a ridiculous 3.6-seconds, a 12 per cent reduction over the DB11 and about the same as what you’d get from a bonafide hypercar not too long ago.
You will feel it, indeed – even in the new, relaxed “wet” drive mode, the DB12 surges forward like something with a big-hearted V8 slung out ahead of it should, in an almost effortless manner, but not so effortless that you get the feeling the car’s bored; redline is at 7,000 RPM after all. For those wondering about how much “Aston” is in the engine and how much “Mercedes-AMG”: the lump does come from the latter, but Aston chooses its own turbos, cams and compression rating.
Activate either “Sport” or “Sport Plus” – as I did for most of my drive – and you’re rewarded with an incredibly sticky and predictable affair. It’s to the point you’re able to push harder and harder and have the car shrink around you as the pace quickens. It’s an almost eerie feeling, just how sorted the DB12 is through the bends that pepper the Route Napoleon and its surroundings; a new version of the smaller Vantage is on the way, and it will be very interesting to see how much tauter it could possibly feel than this.
Then you leave the B-roads and hit the highway, activate the more relaxed GT mode and the DB12 changes hats, rolling along in comfort as you would in a Bentley Continental GT. The DB12 may not be quite as cushy as the Bentley, but it’s far better looking and will surely be a rarer bird. It’s a stonking return to form for the DB series and with the new Vantage, the Valhalla, and possibly even a new DBS on the way – not to mention the success Aston is currently enjoying in top-tier motorsport -- it signals the start of an exciting new era for Aston, and what a start it is.
2024 Aston Martin DB12
Two-door performance coupe
4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, 671 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque
FUEL ECONOMY CITY/HIGHWAY/COMBINED:
WEBSITE: Aston Martin DB12