2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera First Drive Review
The mountains at the border of Austria and Germany are full of rolling green fields bookended by tree-capped mountains. The roads that run along the mountainsides and valleys, despite being packed with tractors and a seemingly endless line of vacation travelers, are ripe with corners just waiting to be strung together. I’m standing on a hillside staring at the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera when I realize there are few things I’ve ever wanted more than a V12-powered GT and a ribbon of clean pavement.
The DBS Superleggera is the third new Aston Martin revealed this year, following the Vantage and DB11 AMR. It’s based on the DB11 and serves as a replacement for the Vanquish S. In place of the old, naturally-aspirated 6.0-liter V12 is an upgraded version of the 5.2-liter engine found in the DB11 AMR. In the DBS, the engine makes 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, up 85 horses and a gut-punching 148 pound-feet over the DB11. The extra power comes mostly from an increase in boost from the two turbos.
Sitting behind the wheel, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in another DB11. The seats are the most notable and obvious change in the DBS, offering slightly more bolstering than what you get on the DB11 (though they lack fine-tuned adjustments). The rest of the interior simply looks like a reskinned DB11. There’s a lot of variety when it comes to colors and trim. It’s opulent, but in certain guises it’s a little overcooked — perhaps a bit unbecoming of a car wearing the Aston Martin badge.
The switches look and feel premium, though the touch capacitive controls can be cumbersome. I also had an occasional issue getting the drive and suspension buttons on the steering wheel to register inputs. At least the Mercedes-Benz-derived infotainment system functions well.
That’s where the DBS Superleggera shines. If you want a track-oriented Aston, stick with the Vantage. It’s smaller and nimbler. The DBS is meant for bigger things, like blasting across Europe in a single day. It feels free and effortless on the highway, eating away mile after mile after mile.
The biggest issue the DBS Superleggera has to deal with is the DB11 AMR. The former starts at $304,995, a hefty $64,000 more than the latter. Hell, our White Stone tester rang in at $344,612, more than $100,000 up on a DB11 AMR. Yes, the DBS more powerful and handles better, though both cars offer far more capability than can be used on any public road. But hey, the delineation between the old DB9 and Vanquish was always murky, and there was always a case for both.