Saturday, February 2, 2013
Aston Martin DBS Carbon Black Edition
We understand that the Vanquish has replaced Aston’s long-running DBS as the “high volume” flagship for 2013, but we recently had a chance at a last fling with a very special DBS. Special, that is, because it is draped in a shimmering black hue so fetching you might wonder why every Aston doesn’t come painted this way. The metallic flakes sparkle in the light as if saying “hello, guv” and “piss off” in the same blink. Onlookers twist to catch a glimpse of the sparkling body that’s shrink-wrapped around the 5.9-liter V-12 they just heard. Aston says it takes 50 man-hours to apply the paint.
And then there’s exclusivity. A 2012 DBS Carbon Black Edition, if you were to find one still for sale, would cost you no less than $289,291. That’s with the six-speed automatic; the manual is $400 more, only because it carries lower EPA fuel-economy estimates and thus a higher gas-guzzler tax. Our test car came with what might possibly be the most expensive satellite-radio option on any car, at $1495, plus an upgraded alarm system ($450), a suede-wrapped steering wheel ($450), and a smoker’s kit ($570).
But what does the Carbon Black Edition get you that a regular carbon-fiber-bodied, 510-hp DBS doesn’t? Beyond the paint, there’s a 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo. The rest of the DBS’s equipment list almost sounds as if the Rolling Stones’ song Paint It, Black were blaring on an iPod during the product-planning meeting: The 20-inch wheels have been trimmed in black, interior bits are black, the front grille and the tailpipes are blackened, and the taillamps are trimmed in black. It’s a good song.
The driving experience is nothing short of spectacular. Rolling onto the throttle with a heavy foot turns up the 5.9-liter soundtrack partway through the rev range. Stay in it, and the V-12 will sing all the way to its 6850-rpm redline. The DBS’s six-speed automatic is calibrated for performance driving, but a pair of shift paddles encourages manual shifting. Be advised, however, that there is no physical redline on the tach, and the only warning that the fuel is about to cut off is in the gear indicator. It’ll turn red, telling you to upshift with the right paddle.
Messing around with the manual-shift mode might be fun on twisty roads, but it’s more or less pointless for acceleration runs on a straightaway. The DBS storms to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and 100 mph in 9.7, and it breaks a quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds (at 114 mph) whether you shift manually or leave the transmission in automatic mode.
The steering wheel has a bit of old-Porsche feel to it. By that we mean it shakes and transmits the tiniest road imperfections to the driver. Some of this information is extraneous, but we welcome the direct communication. The interior, although lush with leather, carbon, suede, and aluminum, has a cottage-industry feel—not surprising from a company that builds fewer than 900 cars per year. The turn-signal stalk clicks to its positions with a weak detent, not the fluid kind of sweep we’ve come to expect from quarter-million-dollar cars. It is a small oversight in an otherwise bespoke interior.
The DBS is more of an ultra-touring car than a dedicated sports car, although the chassis is plenty rigid for track work. Carbon-ceramic brakes add to the racetrack pedigree, and the DBS’s capability is only exceeded by its comfort, luxury, and craftsmanship. The 2013 Vanquish has superseded the once range-topping DBS (the limited and hyperexotic One-77 notwithstanding) and promises more of everything. Everything but black, that is.