Mid-engined hypercars aside, Aston Martin has long been synonymous with the world of Grand Touring. A world where high performance meets long-distance cruising comforts; not aiming to compete with the strung out track demons of Ferrari and Mclaren, the DB franchise of cars dials back the abusive rigidity in favour of a performance-focused machine that can log hours (and even days) on the world’s best winding roads. When building the all-new 2024 Aston Martin DB12, the brand was so proud of this latest spec that it opted to redefine the GT category. Enter the world’s first Super Tourer.
For its global launch, Aston brought media down to the South of France, perched in the cliffs just above Monaco. While it’s easy to envision the DB12 parked in front of the Casino de Monte-Carlo, that wasn’t the reason behind the destination. Up in the hills to the north and east of our “home base” were some of the country’s best roads — including locations from two of the most iconic car chase scenes of all time: the Brosnan era 007 car chase between a Ferrari F355 vs Aston DB5 chase in Goldeneye, and the epic pursuit out of Nice in Ronin, where Robert De Niro’s character fires a rocket launcher from the sunroof of an old Merc.
Setting the roads themselves aside, our jaunt through the South of France gave us a healthy opportunity to experience the full potential of the new DB12, from its raucous twin-turbo V8 and dynamic chassis tuning, to its opulent interior loaded with new comforts and technology.
From the Road
Though it was tempting to start from the car’s interior, the DB12’s road-going manners deserve to be our starting point. With 30% more power (680 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque), a new 8-speed ZF twin-clutch gearbox and electronic rear differential, a shorter final drive, and freshly developed Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, the DB12 is anything but your average old touring car. According to Aston’s Director of Design, Miles Nurnburger, this performance push is part of a larger vision. “This is the first all-new car of ours that embodies our ultra-luxe performance ethos, and you’ll see more of that from the brand in the coming years.”
Seated behind the leather-wrapped wheel, foot nudging its way to the floor, its quite clear the new car is a far cry from the old Vantage, Vanquish, and DB9 that linger in my fond yet distant memories. I don’t doubt there will be more than a few that take issue with the DB12’s cylinder deficiency — being that it runs a twin-turbo V8 and thus far no V12 variant seems to be in the cards — but I can’t say that I’d die on that hill. Aston’s V12s never had the same strung-out wail of some of the Italians that many lust after, and the Aston’s deep, throaty V8 provides as much auditory stimulation as you’d want from a touring car.
Of the interesting tricks up Aston’s sleeve, its programming of its five “drive modes” proved rather clever. For the DB12, five modes are selectable: Sport+, Sport, GT, Individual, and Rain. According to the team’s engineering department, the addition of a Rain program allowed for a more dynamic programming of the balance of its modes. In short, even in GT, the DB12 is sharp and engaging to drive. We did, unfortunately, have the opportunity to trial the Rain mode during our driving session. The best parallel I can provide is to think of early Comfort or ECO modes that turn the gas and brake pedals into sponges and soften steering resistance a notable amount. It’s not a bad idea, and with so much power at the sticky rear tires, taking some of the zeal out of your gas pedal application is probably for the best anyway.
Once the tarmac dried out, Sport and Sport+ modes were given their time to shine, allowing for razor-sharp throttle response and slightly more dynamic cornering activity. Though it packs so much more power, the DB12 isn’t exactly a lightweight — a trait it will occasionally remind you of as you start pushing it around. Late heavy braking into a corner there’s a fair bit of mass to move, and the DB12 can (and will) let the rear of the car take a bit of a slide when nudged in the right direction. Now, we understand that being able to pitch a car’s tail around isn’t the point of a grand tourer, but should your cacoethes get the best of you, know that the DB12 will happily oblige (and put a grin on your face in the process).
From the Inside
Before we get to its raw power and cornering chops, there’s much to discuss in this new Aston Martin platform. Many in recent years have called for a refresh of the brand’s tech side of things — while the cars have always been stunning, their infotainment and controls standards were due for a dusting. In building the DB12 the brand aimed to (and successfully managed to) update the software, hardware, and user interfaces in their vehicles moving forward.
The end result is the first “Connected” Aston Martin. The DB12 is capable of over-air software updates. Though its infotainment was technically in pre-production mode, it proved simple and straightforward to navigate. One of the biggest demand from existing Aston Martin customers was for improvements to the user experience of its infotainment setup, and between its 10.25-inch Pure Black, 1970×720 high-resolution screen, and the fully digital and configurable instrument cluster, it’s safe to say job well done. The system was developed with response speed in mind, and Aston’s tech team was quick to note its rapid 30ms response time.
Driving a GT car means hours of comfort on the road, so the DB12’s audio system is obviously worthy of mention. Whether via Carplay or other means, its Bowers & Wilkins audio system — complete with 15 speakers and 1,170 watts of sound output — delivered more than adequate sound for its ultra-luxe category. At the sacrifice of a few extra grams of mass for the sake of quality touch points, Each exposed speaker features bespoke stainless steel speaker covers that the team at Bowers & Wilkins were required to shape and then tune to suit the cabin of the car. It’s a lot of work for a small detail, but that’s what separates a car like this from the pack.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: the future looks bright for Aston. As a low-volume automaker with such a rich legacy, the DB12 brings Aston Martin up to speed with (and ahead of) its competitive field. Not quite as performance driven as Ferrari, and not quite as “pure luxury” as Rolls-Royce, Aston has found its stride again. Combine a stellar new car with the brand’s recent successes in F1, and you’ve got a recipe for what should be significant growth of the beloved British marque. Now that’s a way to celebrate a 110th anniversary.