Automania

Aston Martin DB9 - the best Aston Martin yet?

For my money, this is probably the most beautiful design in current automobiles. No wings and air dams appearing as carbon-fibre add-ons. Just pure symmetry of line. If you want to be a trendsetter, this is the vehicle for you. Forget Ferrari, forget Porsche and Bentley. Order a DB9.

Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin began with a chap called Martin, and they used to run the cars up the Aston Clinton hill climb, and became Aston Martins. Saved from extinction in 1933 by a titled gentleman, Sir Arthur Sutherland KBE, and again in 1947 by wealthy industrialist David Brown (who gave the Aston Martins their ‘DB’ model insignia), the company was later saved by the Ford Motor Company, who had also picked up Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover, to then put all these brands together under the Premier Automotive Group (PAG) umbrella.

Despite howls of outrage from enthusiasts world-wide, the DB9 V12 is spearheading the resurgence of the marque. The DB9 is built on an all-new VH platform with twice the rigidity of the old model. VH stands for Vertical Horizontal, and this platform is exclusive to Aston Martin.

The DB9 features a bonded aluminium frame, on to which the body panels and everything else is bolted. Almost a return to classical body and chassis concept, though this time the ‘chassis’ is vertical, as well as being horizontal. Since the body panels are no longer needed to give rigidity to the vehicle’s structure, it become easy to make styling changes for different variations on the DB9 theme - even an open topped model, the DB9 Volante, due later this year.

The DB9 has a six litre V12 up front, but brought as far back as possible to end up with a 50/50 weight distribution between front and rear axles. This is Aston Martin’s own engine, but has been re-engineered for the DB9, with a new crankshaft, cams, manifold, and engine-management system for more midrange torque. For a relatively light car, coming through the extensive use of aluminium, the torque figure of 567 Nm is more than enough to keep a push in your back through to its top whack of a smidgin under 300 kph.

The ZF semi-manual gearbox is in this application called Touchtronic 2 (shades of Porsche’s Tiptronic), so that it can be used like a manual, but without a clutch pedal. It has all the electronic ‘smarts’ so that when you are downshifting it gives the engine that professional ‘blip’ to synchronize the revs, and if you insist, it will hold any gear right the way through to red-line. However, for most people, it will be a case of selecting one of the auto drive modes and just enjoy the smoothness that this car offers.

Reports from critical scribes such as in the UK Top Gear programme and from respected motor-noter Peter Robinson all are in agreement that this is the best engineered Aston Martin ever. “There is room for Aston Martin to drive a wedge between sports cars like the Ferrari 360 Modena and GT models like the Bentley Continental,” says Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez.

This Aston Martin is already one of the most exclusive sports cars in the world. For the trend-setters, I would suggest that you not wait for James Bond to add his armaments and accessories to this DB9. It has enough already! Place your order today.

Vehicle type: front engine, rear wheel drive, 2+2 passenger, 2 door coupe

Estimated base price: USD 155,000 (expect well over 20 million baht here)

Engine: DOHC 48 valve V 12, aluminium block and heads

Displacement: 362 cu in (5935cc)

Power (SAE net): 444 bhp @ 6000 rpm

Torque (SAE net): 420 lb ft @ 5000 rpm (567 Nm)

Zero to 100 kph: 4.7 (manual), 4.9 sec (auto)

Zero to 160 kph: 10.8 (manual), 10.9 sec (auto)

Top speed: 297 kph


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week, I mentioned that with all the hysteria over crude oil prices and saving power, there is much talk about changing to alternate fuels. Gasohol has been pushed by various (vested?) interests, and biodiesel as well. Now Diesel was named after Rudolf Diesel, so last week’s question was where did the name ‘petrol’ come from? The correct answer was that it was registered as a trade name in 1896 by the firm of Capel, Carless and Leonard! (Gasoline was an American term that was used before the era of the automobile.)

So to this week. There was a very famous car sometimes called the Mystery S. It was designed by a Frenchman. It was involved in land speed records. It was driven by an army gentleman. What was the ‘real’ name of this car? And what was the speed it attained?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!