It’s being called the first Super Tourer and it seems that 110 years of history have just reached its culmination. There has never been such a comprehensive Aston Martin on the road before, and the Route Napoleon, which climbs majestically over the French Riviera, is unbearably waiting for contact with the specially developed Michelin Pilot 5s tire. We are interested in whether the ESP sensors, which work in six axes, are the best that currently exists. But for the public, the question is whether it still is possible to cross the continent quickly and comfortably with this car.
Designed to offer the driver the perfect degree of dynamic support without restraint, DB12 introduces an industry-leading Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) system. The system works by taking information from a multitude of sensors around the vehicle, the most advanced of which is the new six-axis inertia measurement unit. This complex accelerometer data builds a real-time picture of what the car is doing. Then, using cutting-edge algorithms, it predicts the level of grip available, as well as reacting to momentary instabilities. Designed to work discreetly in the background, this sophisticated system allows the driver to get the best from the car and the conditions with fewer perceived ESP interventions while maintaining a high degree of safety.
The same predictive, model-based technology underpins all the car’s chassis control systems (ABS, Traction Control and Lateral dynamics) in an unprecedented, integrated way for an unmatched level of driver confidence and enjoyment. In addition to multi-mode ESP, DB12 also features five pre-defined drive modes; GT, Sport and Sport+ progressively adjust the dynamic behaviour, with each step allowing the driver more freedom to explore the limits of grip and traction.
The world premiere in Monte Carlo and early morning serves a typical green Racing Green in front of me. Impressively wide and full of curves, as if forged in an Italian carrozzeria. Behind the lightweight 21-inch alloy rims sits 400 mm of ceramic braking power. The hidden door handles move outwards and the doors open slightly upwards as if want to fly.
Ensuring it has the stopping power to match its prodigious pace, DB12 is fitted as standard with cast-iron 400mm front discs and 360mm rear discs with grooved and drilled faces for improved thermal capacity. The brake booster has also been re-tuned to improve pedal feedback, giving the driver greater confidence thanks to a firm pedal with an immediate sense of stopping power combined with progressive response. Underlining its Super Tourer credentials, DB12 can be ordered with a Carbon Ceramic Brake (CCB) option. Offering increased braking performance and reduced brake fade at temperatures of up to 800°C, fitting CCB saves 27kg in unsprung mass compared to the standard braking system, which in turn benefits ride quality and steering response.
The eight-speed gearbox from ZF is suspended on the rear axle, therefore the transaxle arrangement. And in the front is a twin-turbine eight-cylinder engine with 680 HP. This balancing act prowess and shines on the road where active suspension, five driving programs and an exceptional stability system interact with each other as if they were siblings. Stability management though, merely calms the noise of the driving over-dynamics and you hardly feel any intervention. Just propels you through another corner uninhibited. Scientific.
Unapologetic and unambiguous, DB12 makes an emphatic statement. One that exudes the confidence of a car endowed with a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds, a 202mph top speed and best-in-class potency from its 4.0 Twin-Turbo V8 engine. This exceptional hand-built engine, tuned by Aston Martin engineers to deliver class-leading 680PS/671bhp at 6000rpm and 800Nm/590lb ft between 2750-6000rpm. These higher outputs have been achieved through modified cam profiles, optimised compression ratios, larger diameter turbochargers, and increased cooling. To manage increased thermal demands the cooling system has been completely redesigned, with an additional two auxiliary coolers added to the existing central main radiator.
To ensure that desired engine intake air temperatures are achieved in all conditions, an additional low-temperature radiator has been fitted to the charge cooler water circuit. In addition, the auxiliary outboard engine oil cooler now has over double the face area of its predecessor in order to manage the demands on the lubrication circuit. Cooling has been optimised further by improving thermal airflow, a 56% increase in open apertures allowing more cold air to flow into the radiators, while centrally-mounted bonnet vents placed above the twin turbos allow hot air to escape.
The interior is all about prestige and esthetically packaged technology. For one, the LCD screen doesn’t jut up high covering the windshield. Controls are partially manual with metallic feel of knobs having a marvelous weight so the haptic is incredibly precise and high class. Quality of assembly in this pre-production version of the vehicle, we had eight DB12 available, is at the level one would expect in a car with an asking price of 240,000 euros. Comfortable, spacious, even prominent visibility from the cabin. We could easily cross any continent with it. What about the audience? Let them try.
Controls & Infotainment
Understanding the need for balance between touchscreen commands and the positive tactility of physical switches, DB12 retains buttons for the key mechanical operations of gear selection, drive selection, heating and ventilation offering the perfect blend of digital and analogue controls. There are also override switches for chassis, ESP and exhaust, Lane Assist and Park Distance Control, ensuring the most used controls are always conveniently to hand. The all-new navigation system for DB12 features online connectivity for a smarter, quicker and more informative experience.
Online connection enables the driver to simply look up their favourite restaurant, read the reviews and chose it as a destination. Or, if more convenient, choose a destination in the Aston Martin App and simply send it to their DB12 in readiness for travel.
Aston Martin and Monaco go together perfectly, I leave you with some lifestyle imagery.