Aston Martin DB9 GT review

Since its launch back in 2003, the DB9 has been a cornerstone of Aston Martin's range. Twelve years on and the British brand have a replacement waiting in the wings that will be the first fruit of a technology share with Mercedes-AMG. The GT marks the end of an era.

Ten Second Review

To think of this GT model as being a simple badging and trim job to extend the life of the Aston Martin DB9 until the new car arrives is a mistake; there's a lot more to it than that. More power, a revised interior and unique styling all make for the ultimate incarnation of the DB9.

Background

The DB9 was first shown by Aston Martin at Frankfurt back in 2003 as a replacement for the ageing DB7 range. Powered by a 6.0 litre V12 with over 450PS, it was wrapped in one of the most beautiful bodies of recent times. A true Grand Tourer, it offered a comfortable ride and effortless performance perfect for crossing continents - and still does. Over the years, there have been countless improvements made to enhance performance, handling and aesthetics, all of which culminate in the GT model we're looking at here. While Ferrari's F12 may offer significantly more power and Bentley's Continental GT even greater luxury, the DB9's stunning looks and massive cool factor have ensured its success. In becoming the GT, the DB9 builds on almost all of its strengths to create (in Aston's words) 'The Definition Of An Icon'. The question is, are these changes enough to keep it relevant as it enters its thirteenth year of production?

Driving Experience

The most impressive statistic of the DB9 GT has to be the 30PS increase over the 'standard' model. Peak power is now a deep-chested 547PS, enough to fire the GT to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds, 0.1 quicker than before and on to 183mph. Although you have to rev the engine to 6,750rpm to access maximum power - much higher than turbocharged rivals - the V12 still has plenty of low end torque to sweep you along. The big advantage of avoiding a turbo is that the true voice of the V12 isn't muffled leading to one of the best exhaust notes in the business. The engine may have been updated but there's no change in the gearbox department. Despite eight speed autos becoming the norm these days, the DB9 GT has to make do with the old six speeder. At least shifts are smooth and you do have the option of manual control through the wheel mounted paddles. The suspension is unchanged but that's no bad thing. Trackday heroes may wish it were a little more resistant to roll but that's not really the environment the GT is intended for. On the road, the DB9 has always struck a good balance between comfort and handling, perfect for long distance runs.

Design and Build

Underneath the DB9 is the familiar all aluminium 'VH' architecture that has underpinned all modern Aston Martins from Vanquish to Vantage. You wouldn't call the DB9 a lightweight by any means but it does weigh significantly less than a Continental GT or Mercedes S Class Coupe. The body is a mixture of alloy and composite, while the brakes are carbon-ceramic as standard. To differentiate the GT from the normal DB9, you get a black front splitter and matching rear diffuser, along with special two tone ten spoke wheels. The changes are subtle but add real menace to the gorgeous lines. Inside, there's Aston Martin's latest AMi II infotainment system - and it's a big improvement on the old unit. Not only is it a lot more intuitive to use, it also features a touch screen to make navigation far easier. You also get an iridium finish for the dashboard and 'GT' logos on the front seats. In the rear, you still get a couple of chairs, although they are as useless as ever. Small children may fit but you'll probably end up using them as an additional luggage shelf.

Market and Model

If you must have the DB9 GT, expect to pay £140,000 for the basic model before options. For that money, you get that magnificent V12, an automatic gearbox, carbon-ceramic brakes, leather seats, an AMi II infotainment system with sat-nav, clear LED rear lights and diamond- turned alloy wheels. Optional is a selection of bare carbon body parts including mirror caps, splitter, diffuser and even rear lamp infills, along with a better stereo, different interior finishes and even an umbrella in the boot. For those after more exclusivity, there's even a DB9 GT Bond Edition which will set you back a cool £165,000. For the extra outlay, you don't get any mechanical changes but there are discreet '007 Bond Edition' badges, bright aluminium bonnet vents, special side strakes, a bespoke front grille, a carbon fibre front splitter and a unique rear diffuser, as well as grey brake calipers. The interior comes with fluted leather, 007 plaques, a carbon centre console, an alcantara-trimmed wheel and an '007' gun barrel logo embroidered between the rear seats. You also get an Omega James Bond Edition watch with a unique Aston Martin strap. Safety is taken care of by a suite of airbags, ABS, traction control and stability control.

Cost of Ownership

No-one expects a 6.0 V12 powered luxury GT to be cheap to run - for good reason; cars like this aren't. Carbon emissions are a dizzying 333g/km, while economy is just 19.8mpg combined. The warranty period is a fairly standard three years, although it is at least unlimited mileage and extended plans are offered (price on application though). On the plus side, resale should be stronger than normal (taking into account values of other GT-badged Astons from the past), while the Bond variant will be especially rare. If you have to ask about the price of servicing, you probably can't afford it.

Summary

If you're a fan of Aston Martin's naturally aspirated V12, then you'd best be quick in getting your order in. Rumour suggests the DB9's replacement - the DB11 - will be fitted with twin turbochargers: great for emissions and power but not the exhaust note. With that car likely to be revealed soon, the DB9's days are well and truly numbered. You could argue that the DB9 is outclassed by most, if not all, of its rivals in many significant areas. However, that's always been the case. The DB9 is very much a car you buy with your heart; you would never truly yearn for a Mercedes S-Class Coupe like you would the Aston for instance. Taking that into consideration, the GT really is the ultimate incarnation of the big Brit bruiser. And the one that's easiest to recommend.