The Aston Martin DB12, the world’s first super tourer, will be powered by a Mercedes-sourced 4-litre bi-turbo V8 producing 670hp.
The term “grand touring” or any variation thereof has long been synonymous with the luxury, the panache, and the flare of a good, hearty drive from one country to another, possibly with a dropped top, probably at speed, likely in a European car. It denotes a sense of adventure that we can all get behind and has even inspired a racing classification – GT — and a world-famous racing video game series – we’ll let you figure out which one. You’ve got 2.5 seconds.
It’s a segment that Aston Martin has been playing in since, well, it first started over 100 years ago – Aston is celebrating its 110th anniversary in 2023 — and has been well known for, ever since. Even as they dabbled in smaller performance coupes (even microcars), became Canadian (snicker) and went racing – both in their native GT class as well as the open-wheeled world of Formula 1 – whenever you thought Aston, you thought long hoods, rear-wheel drive and the Côte d’Azur. And James Bond.
Here’s the thing, though; it seems all those years of “GTing” has gotten to Aston and after a big influx of cash from Chinese conglomerate Geely, it was time to move on to something bigger and better. It was time to take grand touring to the next level: Super Touring.
We’ve capitalized that term here because it’s one that Aston themselves has coined to define their latest supercar, the Aston Martin DB12, which they’re calling “the world’s first Super Tourer”.
Big words; one doesn’t just go about creating a vehicle segment lightly – unless you’re the Germans and have decided that “coupe” no longer means “two doors”, of course. So what is Aston doing to back it all up?
It has the looks, to be sure; the big copper-coloured wheels set against green paint are a delight, and the now signature way the front fender blends with the doors is expanded here, so as to not be outdone by the massive lower clip and grille. The bluey crystalized headlight bulbs also catch the eye, and the aggressive and pointy rear end brings it all together nicely.
Speaking of the Germans: a big part of what’s earned the DB12 the Super designation is German, and that’s its heart: a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 courtesy of the big-engine masters over at Mercedes-AMG. Here, it makes 670 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, both figures that are up on what’s made by the Ferrari Roma, one of this latest DB’s closest competitors. It’s an upgraded version of what we’ve been enjoying in the DB11, stacked with larger turbos and better compression ratios. The result is a 3.5-second 0-97 km/h time and a top speed cresting 320 km/h.
Of course to be truly “super”, one needs to keep that all in check – there are, after all, much less expensive and exotic vehicles that make quite a lot more power. The DB12 needs to be able to handle the twists and turns of a European coastal road just as easily as it can fling you forward down a de-restricted section of Autobahn.
In that light, the DB12 gets an electronically-controlled rear differential – Aston has dabbled here before, just never in a DB-branded car – which the company says can go from locked to open in the blink of an eye, helping get the meat of the bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport S tires down on to the sun-baked tarmac below in a much more manageable fashion. It should come as little surprise that the DB12 is stiffer than the outgoing DB11 and that active dampers are also in on the deal, modified in the DB12 to provide a greater dynamic range. Put simply, it can be softer or firmer when you want it to be, simply by tweaking the drive modes.
Inside, much attention has been paid to upgrading and modernizing the DB12’s interior as the DB11 suffered from a little bit too much old-school-cool in an era where digitize all the things was the name of the game, even in the world of super- and hypercars. Those issues were personified by the aging infotainment system, which Aston has upgraded for the DB12, providing a high-res touchscreen as well as support for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, connected to an optional 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Audio system.
It all points to Aston Martin taking a lesson or two in modern technology – some of which was probably provided by their F1 know-how – and looking to deliver a vehicle that can crush continents as those of its ilk always have, but to do so anchored firmly in this century and beyond. If you’re lucky enough to have the $300,000-plus on-hand it’s likely going to take to procure one of these, you’ll get the classic flavour you’ve always loved – rich leather, brawny V8, rear-wheel drive and fat rubber – but with a touch of what it takes to really do damage this day in age.
Of course, we will have to drive the new DB12 to see if the Super Tourer idea slants more to marketing jargon or does indeed bring a new dimension to the drive of this latest DB. Soon, we will have the chance to drive one on the very roads we spoke of earlier – you’ll want to check out our review. Watch this space.