Seductive Aston Martin styling, a naturally-aspirated V12 engine and a six-speed manual transmission represent arguably one of the most attractive combinations in the motoring world. We take a spin in the 2008 Aston Martin DBS.
Story by: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
Photos by: Simon Luckhoff
I fondly remember ogling the first press images of Aston Martin’s (then) latest sports car back in 2007. Part of the press pack was photographed in what was obviously the old part of a European city. The contrast of this new, smooth and powerful sports car parked on the cobbled streets was quite a sight.
A few months later a test unit was made available in Cape Town and a proper first drive and shoot were planned. We headed for the mountains, tackling Du Toits Kloof Pass at sunrise and putting the windows down through the original tunnel. It left an endearing impression on us. Recently, I wondered whether the DBS would still be as impressive a decade-and-a-half later...
Styling and engine
If there is a ranking of manufacturers that has consistently produced elegant and stylish cars through the decades, Aston Martin will undoubtedly be up there with the best. The DBS is Aston Martin at its best - offering a combination of the marque's typically sleek design while also boasting some visually aggressive elements to make it clear that this is a high-performance sports GT.
The front offers that trademark Aston nose with a number of air inlets below the legendary grille as well as air outlets on the bonnet. The side sills cleanly connect the front and rear wheels, while the rear features the diffuser, double exhaust pipes and an incorporated winglet on the bootlid.
Open the lightweight bonnet and the 5.9-lite, V12 engine proudly fills the engine bay. Aston Martin claimed 380 kW and 570 Nm for this unit which resulted in a top speed of 302kph and a 0-100kph time of 4.3 seconds.
Behind the wheel
This particular car has covered only 24 000 km and it is in an absolutely mint condition. Climb inside and it is only on the beautiful gearlever top that you can see evidence that this car has been "pre-enjoyed".
The cabin offers a combination of carbon-fibre, metal and leather parts. It is a luxurious and comfortable place to find yourself in. The seats, mounted low in the chassis, are supportive and comfortable while the driving position is also good.
Put the key fob (we used the spare unit for the shoot) in the slot, press it in, and the V12 fires up with a bark from the double pipes. The gearbox is easy to manage while it is an utter joy to grab the polished alloy gear knob every time you shift a gear.
The engine also has a surprise up its sleeves. As expected, the engine is happy to rev, but you can cruise around the 2 000-3 000 rpm mark and enjoy the torque on offer. However, when you pass the 5 500 rpm mark an engine air intake port opens to allow even more air into the engine. The rev needle now continues (anti-clockwise) around the clock and the engine simply obliges and launches you down the road.
Signal Hill Road is not the smoothest of mountain roads with its small share of minor bumps and road irregularities. Even so, the DBS’s suspension absorbs it all with aplomb, again illustrating its GT capabilities. I left the adaptive damping system in its standard setting, but there is a track setting should you find yourself on a perfect piece of tarmac.
At around 1.7 tonnes, this is no lightweight sports car, but at the same time it doesn’t feel that heavy - in fact it hides its weight very well. Compared to some of today’s front-engined sports GTs, it is actually on the lighter side.
The DBS has won me over, AGAIN. On the open road it will be an utter treat, while it hides it weight very well through tighter corners with minimal body lean and a firm suspension setup. The only small issue is the position of the gearlever, which can be slightly awkward at times.
A discussion about the DBS and its siblings followed after our drive, and again it cements my view that the DBS and V12 Vantage S are two of the most enjoyable cars from the British manufacturer from the past 15 years and, in fact, ever. There have been faster and more collectable offerings, but these two sit at the top for me.
With fewer than ten manual Aston Martin DBSs in South Africa, and supposedly only two in this soft silver hue, it will remain a collectible model into the future.
Thanks to The Archive for making this drive possible. Contact them if you are interested in any of their stock. Sadly (for those interested in acquiring such a machine) this car was sold shortly after our drive.
Specifications: 2008 Aston Martin DBS
Engine: 5.9-litre, V12
Power: 380 kW at 6 500 rpm
Torque: 570 Nm at 5 750 rpm
Top speed: 302kph
0-100kph: 4.3 seconds
Gearbox: six-speed, manaul, RWD
Weight: 1 695 kg
Wheels and tyres: 8.5 x 20, 245/35 (f), 11 x 20, 295/30 (r)