Best of British: Aston Martin’s new DB11 in Yorkshire
words: Andrew Wright | images: Ian Bickerstaff
We may be tiring of Brexit discussions even before the real work begins but whichever way you voted, a successful commercial future lies with Britain building exciting things people want to buy. To this end, I have brought one of our most famous British sports cars to a tiny mill in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire to experience proper British greatness at two very different ends of the scale.
My steed couldn’t be finer: the all-new Aston Martin DB11 is an astonishing looker. There is much classic DB styling yet it is evolved, fresh, dramatic and oh-so pretty. The new DB11 brings more than merely fresh aesthetics though and the the cleverly shaped body forces air beneath its curvaceous panels to do clever things in addition to just cooling the engine. Instead of a spoiler on the boot lid, the air is channelled in behind the rear windows and out of a fine aperture at the tail into what Aston Martin calls an AeroBlade.
The DB11 cabin is a considerable step forward from even recent Aston Martins. The facia centrepiece is a colour display and ahead of the driver sits a new LCD instrument cluster which is far easier to read than the traditional Aston Martin dials. One can spot a couple of Mercedes-Benz items of tech and switchgear but this means they operate well and Aston Martin can concentrate on what it does best rather than needlessly re-inventing smaller components.
And Aston Martin does do things very well indeed. Heading over the Pennines across some of the country’s most spectacularly bleak moors, it is easy to fall in love with this car. Beneath the long and broad bonnet sits a new 5.2-litre V12 engine with twin turbochargers. It is a refined pussycat in auto mode yet springs to life when hauled up and down its eight gears via the paddles. Sport mode brings an eagerness I learned to respect on the wet Yorkshire roads and the car’s soundtrack is raw and invigorating. Between the twin turbos and the sheer wall of torque, the DB11 never feels lacking yet the delivery is extremely accessible and progressive. Brakes too were notable by the absence of drama, shedding speed rapidly when required. Above all, the DB11 is a grand tourer. The pliant, supple and controlled ride is delightful and the sports suspension seemed superfluous on the pockmarked A-roads. It is a car in which to cover considerable distances while cosseted in the snug and comfortable leather cockpit.
Aston Martin goodness
Is the DB11 perfect? Very nearly. The gear change paddle movements aren’t as crisp as I’d like, some of the buttons on the dash are hard to find quickly and there is no glove box or external boot release. But these really are minor quibbles in a sea of Aston Martin goodness.
Howling into the bustling Yorkshire town, eyes are drawn to the car in its none too subtle Frosted Glass Blue paint. Once known as Trouser Town, I find the last remaining trouser-making firm nestled in a side street, somewhat narrow for the DB11’s considerable haunches. Re-invigorated by two entrepreneurs’ Kickstarter project, the mill now makes fine moleskin and needlepoint pants to order under the catchy HebTroCo brand name. Brant and Ed – the brains behind the project – meet us and there is some mutual appreciation of both trouser and car. Inside the mill, it is all intriguingly last century but the website is entirely contemporary and the product is fit for a king. Or indeed an Aston Martin driver.
This is what we do so well here in Blighty: we make some of the best stuff in the World, layered equally with passion and tradition. Excitingly, Aston Martin has announced it will build a further five new models and I now have the perfect trousers in which to drive them.
Aston Martin DB11
5.2 litre V12, power: 608 PS @ 6,500 rpm, torque: 700 Nm @ 1,500 rpm, 0-62 mph: 3.9s.
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