One of the best V8s now housed in one of the best GT cars
Aston Martin DB11 V8
Engine: 4.0-litre, V8, twin-turbocharged, petrol
Torque: 513lb ft
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Top speed: 187mph
Fuel economy: 28.5mpg
If you’re going to team up with another brand to source a new V8 engine for your cars, there are worse place to go than Mercedes-AMG. The resultant 503bhp DB11 V8 is proof of that, one laden with glorious engine torque and benefitting from a substantial 115kg weight reduction over the DB11 V12 we already know so well.
Aston has used the weight reduction as an opportunity to give the DB11 V8 a slightly different character. It has softer springs but stiffer anti roll bars, revised suspension geometry, retuned power steering and brakes that are now less grabby than the previously were.
As for the engine, yes, it’s an AMG 4.0-litre, but one with an all-Aston exhaust system, air intakes, ECU electronics and a wet sump instead of the track-orientated dry sump of the Mercedes-AMG GT. Aston knows its customers well.
It also knows that for a few of them, bragging rights may now be under threat. The V12 is just 0.1 second faster than this V8 mode, despite having 100bhp more, which isn’t bad going for a price tag that’s £13,000 cheaper. We understand it could have gone faster than the official 187mph top speed – Aston seems to have purposefully trimmed it back to ensure the V12 still has big-number superiority.
We like Aston’s take on the AMG V8, with less booming bass and more refined buoyancy. Sure, it’s still rorty, but it’s a bit better bred than the AMG, particularly in vivid Sport+ mode. It also fires forwards with menace at virtually any engine speed, and has a remarkable lack of turbo lag above 4000rpm courtesy of some clever AMG engineering.
The only thing it doesn’t quite do so well is rev right through to the redline. You hold onto gears in the V12, because it’s such a sublime motor. Here, you tend to change up early. That’s not a criticism, just a difference in character.
Speaking of which, the way Aston’s been able to make the DB11 V8 feel that bit more responsive and tight across twisting B-roads is impressive, yet it’s not made the car edgy or nervous in doing this. You have lots of confidence in it because of all the feedback it delivers to you – the perfect mash-up of striding GT car comfort and more engaging sports car vibrancy.
It’s almost perfect. Only a little too much wind noise and a few bits of interior trim that don’t quite fit as they should let it down. There’s too much tyre roar at speed as well but this really is now the DB11 to have. Justify it with that £13,000 saving over the V12: even nearly £145k for a car this magnificent could be considered a steal by some.