2009 Aston Martin DBS

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$269,000

starting MSRP

2009 Aston Martin DBS

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

1 trim

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

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2009 Aston Martin DBS review: Our expert's take

By Dan Neil


With my rock-hard abs and murderous smile, I’m frequently mistaken for James Bond. I open cans of Coke with my Walther PPK. I settle hotel bills with lethal kung fu finger strikes. A glimpse of my Omega Speedmaster has caused waitresses to spontaneously disrobe.

My charms, however, are somewhat diminished when I climb into my white Honda minivan. Really, the only time my sick-cool man-pantherism can achieve its maximum fullness is when I’m obliged to test an Aston Martin.

I was initially offered a chance to drive an actual prop car from the latest Bond flick “Quantum of Solace,” an Aston Martin DBS in which actor Daniel Craig’s alabaster butt had actually sat. I declined. The thought of my wife purring and pawing at the upholstery did not appeal.

Soon enough, Aston Martin sent around a proper 2009 DBS, doused in scintillant flint-gray paint and upholstered with black, quilted Alcantara leather. It’s a modest runabout that costs around $280,000, which is, interestingly, about the median home price in Southern California.

No lasers, alas, no oil spreaders, no glove box-mounted defibrillator to treat the beauty-induced tachycardia. God, this is one smoking-hot car. My desire, the sheer want of it, stings my face like sleet.

Before you reach for your sustainable-softwood pencil and recycled stationery, yes, I know, I get it. I’ve been co-opted by the oil fascists, the hyper-consumerist hypnotists, the evil marketers who sell the poison of materialism as cure for unhappiness.

Not only that, the Aston Martin, being British, plays into Americans’ Anglophile fixation on class and rank as a substitute for human decency. Somewhere Thorstein Veblen is sitting on a horse like Iron Eyes Cody, crying.

Please. Ordinarily, I would so rain space-based missiles down on you using my cellphone, but I’ve got T-Mobile and I can’t get a good signal from my office.

The DBS is not, perhaps, the ideal car for a spy, since the thing arrives with all the stealth of a marching band. This is an audacious car, big (nearly a foot longer than a Corvette), broad and low, with impossibly tight wheel-well clearances around the 20-inch rims and a canopy as narrowed as Cleopatra’s eye.

Aston Martin’s usual restraint in penmanship here surrenders to an orgy of strakes, ducts, aero channels and fender bulges cavorting across the aluminum and carbon-fiber bodywork. Yet there’s harmony to the car, a strangely organic and unstrained quality as if it were a naturally occurring knot in the warp and weave of physics.

And then there’s the moment when you plug the sapphire crystal “key” into the center dash-mounted starter receptacle. There’s a flash of crystalline red, then a foreboding thunder rises from under the hood. Uh-oh. Somebody’s knickers are going walkabout.

Though it’s capable of 191 mph and will put a smoking borehole through the head of your typical Porsche 911, the DBS is neither the fastest nor most powerful of the six-figure exotic sports cars.

Mounted well back in the chassis is a 6.0-liter, 48-valve V12 engine producing an effortless 510 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque at a relatively high 5,750 rpm. To compare, the nose-to-nose rival Ferrari 599 GTB serves up 102 more hp and it weighs nearly the same as the DBS (3,828 pounds).

Meanwhile, there are two gearboxes available in the DBS, one a conventional manual six-speed and the other a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic transaxle. I tested a car with the automatic “Touchtronic” gearbox.

The factory’s quoted figure for 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (0 to 62 mph) is 4.3 seconds — not all that impressive. Ferraris, Lamborginis and even Corvettes are well down in the mid-3-second range. So, although it is still blazingly fast, the Aston simply doesn’t have the pace of a true exotic. And you know, I could not care less.

Aston Martin could have hammered on the V12 for more low-end torque and more top-end horsepower. But it didn’t. What it did was, at every turn, surrender some small and meaningless fraction of numerical performance — lateral grip, top speed, braking distance — for a holistic refinement and day-to-day drivability in every direction.

The suspension is quite taut and cinched down, but it’s not so flat and hard and unyielding that you wouldn’t want to drive to Canada and back.

Likewise, the steering is light and micrometer precise, but there is enough softness on center that you can sneeze and not wind up in Fontana. The new carbon-ceramic brakes will stop a freight train, but the initial tip-in is measured, silky and progressive.

This is not an exotic sports car so much as a hyper-focused grand touring car, immensely powerful but also mature. And it shows in the thousand grace notes around the cabin: the appealing chronometer-style gauges; the oversized Hermes-style stitching; the unidirectional carbon weave pattern on the doors; the beautiful, blue-lighted switch gear against the piano black console fascia.

Everything is surgically precise, fitted, bespoke. The car dares to be swank and glamorous, to have a sense of style unto itself. The interior of the DBS makes the guts of the Ferrari 599 look like a Juarez swap meet.

As for gadgets, the DBS has two of particular note. The first is the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system, with ultra-cool “acoustic lens” tweeters that seem to levitate out of the dash top. The second is utterly not cool — that is the small disaster of the navigation system and display. The graphics are awful, the controls clumsy, the interface silly. The vendor of this hardware should be fed to the sharks.

In closing, I want to wish all our readers a happy holiday season. Today is Boxing Day, the day in Christendom when traditionally serfs and servants receive their Christmas bonuses from their employers in the upper classes. Considering my unstinting and devoted service, I am certain my employers will be along with my present any time now, as soon as they can find an Aston Martin-shaped box. . . . Yes, any minute now. Right . . . about . . . now.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.7
  • Interior design 5.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Value for the money 4.0
  • Exterior styling 5.0
  • Reliability 5.0

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Most Beautiful Car.

The DBS screams sophistication and luxury sport. Every design detail on this car is perfectly balanced to give a truly great experience for any situation. Pairing that beautiful beast with the N/A V12 definitely was the right choice and takes the driving enjoyment and noise to the next level. I have loved owning this car and it has been 100% worry free. I look forward to always having at least 1 Aston Martin in my garage at all times.

4.6

Tailored Perfection

Hands down, best vehicle I've ever owned. The beauty, elegance, and attention that the DBS commands inexplicably manages to surpass the breath-taking face ride she gives you when you bury your foot into the accelerator. And though it doesn't make the same amount of noise, calling for attention to itself like the more reckless-sounding Ferrari or Lamborghini, that spine-tingling roar sounds more refined, understated, and subtle than those aforementioned - knowing it's up there among the best, but not feeling as though it needs to show it - and that's Aston's whole brand embodied. Feeling your heart in the back of your throat when you hit 80MPH in 6 seconds is what pubescent teenage boys' wet dreams are made of. And my mother still knows I'm coming from about two miles away... If the hefty price tag is deterring you, the DB9 is a viable substitute at nearly $100k less than the leaner, meaner big brother (maybe less a differing price point, if purchased used). I test drove both, and unless you're a dextrous gear head, the difference in performance is hardly noticeable, especially for the large variance in price. But for those who do know and care, the ability to splurge on an S puts you in a class above the rest - a nonpareil among the elite. When you drive past, and that DBS badge is on the back instead of DB9, it's like a trophy for the privileged and the difference between a Rolex and an Audemars. And while everyone who doesn't know will just see an Aston driving by... they will still see you in your Aston. Nothing commands attention at intersections and on the road like this car. Even those who know nothing about motoring are constantly rubbernecking to prolong their glimpse of my car and who's inside. The vents on the hood reminded me of a shark's nostrils and give the overall styling a much more aggressive look than the significantly more conservative DB9. As a much younger owner than Aston's average customer base, I sought the more aggressive, sporty styling that was youthful but still paired itself with Aston's legendary elegance and luxury. If you want to exercise your ability to enjoy the finer things, this car is epic. I cannot recommend this automobile enough for those who can afford it, and I cannot encourage those whose dream it is own this vehicle to keep working. The DBS is the difference between a tailored Nordstrom suit and having that Anderson & Sheppard cut. -C.R.

4.9

I have one, also an AR 1

This is the third Asto I've owned. Beautiful cars with lots of class. Handmade and oozes class. Leather everywhere.

See all 3 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Aston Martin
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/unlimited distance
Corrosion
120 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
36 months/unlimited distance
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
10 years years old or less/unlimited mileage
Basic warranty terms
12 months/unlimited miles
Powertrain
12 months/unlimited miles
Dealer certification required
140-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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