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Review: 2005 Aston Martin DB9

June 17, 2005 02:34 PM EST | Coupes , Luxury Brands | Email to Friend

View large imageThis gorgeous supercar from Aston Martin offers an opulent cabin and strong performance wrapped in a package every bit as stunning as its Italian counterparts.

Pros
Sleek styling, V12 power, unique British character, stunning instrument cluster and wood finishes, high-tech chassis.

Cons
Porsche and Ferrari offer more all-out performance.

What's New for 2005
The DB9 is an all-new replacement for the successful DB7.

Introduction:
The all-new DB9 is a direct replacement for the aging DB7. Under the DB9's shapely bodywork is a new lightweight aluminum-bonded frame, which Aston claims is the most structurally efficient in the world. Known as the VH platform, it will form the backbone of all Aston Martin models in the near future. The DB9 is roughly the same size as the outgoing car, with the main change being a slightly longer wheelbase. By pushing the wheels closer to the corners of the car, the engineers were able to improve dynamic stability while also increasing passenger space. Up front, the DB9's mechanical motivation follows more traditional lines with a Cosworth-designed 6.0-liter V12 under the hood. New bits and pieces for this engine include a revised crankshaft, camshafts, manifolds and engine management system. Producing 450 horsepower and 412 lb-ft of torque, the silky smooth engine is capable of pushing the DB9 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, and to a top speed of 186 mph, according to Aston Martin. Both manual and automatic transmissions are available. The six-speed manual unit comes from Graziano of Italy, which also supplies Maserati and Ferrari. The six-speed paddle-shifted automatic is built by ZF. The transaxle and differential are housed in a single unit, and linked to the engine via a cast alloy torque tube and carbon-fiber propshaft. Braking is handled by massive four-piston brake calipers gripping grooved rotors. The DB9's hand-crafted interior appointments are a welcome improvement over the DB7, which was plagued with Ford and Jaguar parts-bin sharing. A few Volvo and Jaguar pieces can be found here and there, but they are now well disguised. A mix of leather, wood and glittering metallic accents are the highlights, along with unique push-button controls for the automatic transmission. The milled-aluminum instrument panel and distinctive wood finishing are particularly breathtaking. Aston purposely designed the sumptuous leather to age and wear in, taking on the unique touch of the car's owner, much like fine leather shoes and gloves. For those who like open-air motoring, a convertible version is available, dubbed the DB9 Volante. While the DB7 was certainly no penalty box, the DB9 is a massive improvement on nearly all levels -- not the least of which is the new high-tech, bonded-alloy structure and beautiful interior. Like all Aston Martins, the DB9 will be a much sought-after exotic ride; we suggest you get on the appropriate waiting lists as soon as possible.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The DB9 is available in two variants: Coupe or Volante (convertible). These are hand-built cars, made to order, and any combination of paint and leather trim color is possible. There is, of course, an extensive palette of standard body colors and interior finishes chosen by Aston Martin's designers. This "standard" palette includes more than 20 exterior paint colors, 20 shades of leather, eight colors of carpet and three choices of wood trim -- walnut, mahogany and bamboo. For the Volante, seven roof colors are available, ranging from black to sandstone. The DB9 is equipped with a 128-watt Linn audio system and a six-disc CD changer. Optional upgrades include a 260-watt system with Limbik 5.1 sound processing, or a 950-watt system with Dolby Pro Logic II. Other options include a navigation system, reverse parking sensors, personalized doorsill plaques, a heated windshield, a tire-pressure monitoring system and a bright finish grille.

Powertrains and Performance:
Both DB9 models are equipped with a 6.0-liter V12 engine that produces 450 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. As you would expect from numbers like this, acceleration is prodigious. Zero to 60 mph takes a mere 4.7 seconds. Transmission choices are limited to a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic unit. The automatic transmission features push-button controls, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Safety:
The DB9 offers four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and traction control. Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) are also included. EBD balances the front-to-rear braking bias. In an emergency, EBA detects when maximum braking is required and automatically applies full braking force regardless of pedal effort. Other safety features include a stability control system, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and front side airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Inside the cabin, Aston Martin equips its DB9 with wide expanses of sumptuous leather and unique wood trim. The handcrafted interior still has a few Volvo and Jaguar pieces, but they are well disguised. The milled-aluminum instrument panel and distinctive wood finishing are particularly breathtaking. Aston designed the sumptuous leather interior to age and wear in, taking on the unique touch of the car's owner, much like fine leather shoes and gloves. While more plebian cars make do with rough-and-tumble leather, the DB9's hides will take on a distinctive patina as the car gracefully ages.

Driving Impressions:
Even with 450 hp on tap, the engine is still quite tractable while driving through city gridlock. The DB9's ride quality is a blend of firm control with supple response. High-speed cruising is this car's forte. American speed limits won't allow the DB9 to truly show its abilities; this car is perfectly happy to whoosh along at speeds well over 100 mph.

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