The Aston Martin DB9 offers some redesigned interior elements and an upgraded infotainment system for 2008. The DB9 is powered by a 6.0-liter V-12 engine that generates 450 horsepower. Competitors include the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo.
Either a conventional six-speed manual gearbox or a button-controlled six-speed automatic, called Touchtronic II, can be installed. Aston Martin says the manual-shift DB9 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. That's quick, but not blindingly fast like the Gallardo and F430. According to Car and Driver and Motor Trend, the Gallardo sprints to 60 mph in around 4 seconds, while the F430 does it in 3.5.
The DB9 was the first car to be hand-built at a new state-of-the-art facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire, England. In addition to the coupe, a Volante convertible is also offered.
Recent revisions added more cabin stowage, coat hooks, rear parking sensors, cruise control, heated front seats, power-folding side mirrors, an umbrella, a navigation system and, for 2008, Bluetooth connectivity.
A long aluminum hood sits above a familiar Aston Martin grille, and side strakes are located on the front quarter panels. The body panels are aluminum or lightweight composites, while magnesium is used for the steering column and inner doorframes. Locating the gearbox at the rear helps achieve 50/50 weight distribution, and a full undertray reduces lift and drag. The DB9's rear haunches are wide and curvaceous, and its profile features a prominent trunk. "Swan wing" doors rise at a 12-degree angle for easier access. Front parking sensors and LEDs in the door handles are optional.
An optional Sports Pack on the coupe includes new five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, a revised undertray and a lower ride height. This works with revised dampers and springs and a reworked front anti-roll bar to provide better handling.
The Volante's fabric top folds underneath a hard tonneau cover that sits flush with the bodywork. Sensors can detect a potential rollover and deploy twin roll-hoops. Aston Martin says the windshield pillars can withstand twice the car's body weight.
The DB9 offers 2+2 seating that features Bridge of Weir leather. Walnut, mahogany or bamboo wood trim is available. A host of information and entertainment upgrades for 2008 include new steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary jack for MP3 players. Satellite radio is optional. The standard audio system has been cranked up to 700 watts, and the multilingual information center adds Russian, Greek and Chinese to its repertoire.
Other changes include a redesigned center armrest and new sun visors.
To start the engine, the driver must press a clear glass button. The tachometer dial runs counterclockwise and has no redline. Instead, a red warning symbol appears at various engine speeds, depending on ambient temperature and engine mileage.
The DB9's 6.0-liter V-12 produces 450 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque. The ZF six-speed automatic transmission uses buttons to select Drive, Park, Neutral and Reverse. A Touchtronic manual mode permits gear changes using paddles behind the steering wheel. A conventional Graziano six-speed manual gearbox is also available.
Aston Martin says the Volante's maximum speed is 186 mph, the same as the coupe.
All-disc antilock brakes incorporate electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and an electronic stability system are standard. For 2007, new seats feature standard occupant-detection sensors, plus head and thorax side airbags.
Handling is where the DB9 truly excels, hanging on with passion through swift curves and delivering a civilized experience. Confidence levels reach well beyond the sports-car norm. The suspension follows road contours closely, yet ride comfort is satisfying.
The dashboard is packed with controls. Most markings are clear, but the gauges aren't easy to read.
The V-12 generates a rich exhaust sound. Gear changes are quite easy using the dashboard selector buttons and steering-wheel paddles, and automatic mode does a fine job. After a momentary hesitation to downshift, the DB9 lunges ahead with unbridled force. The Sport Pack option has not been tested.
Rear headroom is scant and legroom is virtually nonexistent, but the front compartment is roomy enough in a snug, separated cockpit.