Aston’s new DB12 GT arrives in Ireland

New V8-engined coupe is here, but will it sell without the old V12?

Aston Martin DB12

Clearly, Aston Martin did not customer-research its slogan for the new DB12 GT in Cork. Had it done so, it would have realised that the phrase ‘When Grand Is Not Enough’ makes no sense. As any Corkonian knows, grand is as good as it gets.

Of course, Aston Martin means Grand as in Grand Tourer — that archaic, pre-jet-age vision of a car in which you can load your luggage and your significant other and head off for some far-flung continental destination, whipping along Autos both Bahn and Route as you go.

Archaic? Well, yes. Anyone who can afford the likely circa €400,000 price tag for the DB12 GT can probably also at the very least charter a private jet, so they may be somewhat less likely to take their Aston instead of their Grumman. Nonetheless, that is the portrait Aston is painting for its new car.

A replacement for the DB11, it continues many of that car’s styling cues — the rear deck and lights are very similar — but up front, it’s more muscular and aggressive, taking inspiration from the V12-engined DBS model.


However, some of that muscularity is, to an extent, pretence. For unlike the DB11, which used a mighty, sonorous 5.2-litre turbocharged V12 engine, this DB12, somewhat ironically given the badge, only arrives with a V8.

Aston Martin DB12

Now, it’s a heck of a V8 — based on a Mercedes-AMG unit, displacing 4.0-litres, and developing 680hp, more than the old V12 managed in the DB11 (but less than it provided in the DBS…). Aston claims the engine to be an advantage, as it makes the car more efficient and lighter on the nose, making it apparently more agile in corners. It’s also shorter than the DB11, and wider — by as much as 22mm at the back of the car.

Will loyal Aston customers be asking what happened to the other four cylinders? Possibly not. At the Irish launch event for the car, held by Ireland’s only Aston Martin dealer — Belfast-based Charles Hurst — The Irish Times spoke to Irish high-performance car dealer Nadia Adan. Did she feel that her customers might be peeved by the smaller engine?

“I think initially, you obviously want the biggest engine for your car,” Ms. Adan told us. “But obviously, the technology had moved on, and Aston Martin is able to get more power out of this engine than out of the old V12. I don’t understand how they do it, but I’m loving it.”

Mike Gimson, general manager at Aston Martin’s Belfast showroom, not surprisingly agreed with the sentiment. “I understand why everyone has the attraction towards the V12; it’s synonymous with the brand” Gimson told The Irish Times. “But I think when you can see what we can do, performance-wise, with the new V8, when you think that it’s 115kg lighter at the front end, so the technology is taking us in a different direction. So I think when people get to drive the car, and can feel that lighter front end, and understand the benefits, I think they’ll be more than compensated.”

They’ll certainly have a vastly improved interior. The old DB11, fabulous thing though it was, was oft-criticised for a cabin that looked and felt too cheap for a car costing deep six-figure sums, and for its outdated, Mercedes-based infotainment system. The DB12 comes with a far more attractive interior, one that owes a clear debt in aesthetic terms to the Porsche 911, and which doesn’t feel like it’s lacking for any quality. Just don’t expect to fit actual, real people in those back seats…

Aston Martin DB12

Aston Martin claims that it has found a better balance between on-screen infotainment menus and actual, physical buttons on the DB12′s dashboard, but arguably more importantly it’s spent money on the dynamic package that it hasn’t had the resources to spend before — those a bespoke Michelin tyres, for example. Meanwhile, the suspension dampers, made specially for the car by Bilstein, don’t only improve the handling, they also contribute to a claimed 20 per cent reduction in road noise.

The first physical deliveries of DB12s in Ireland should start to take place from October onwards, and Hurst’s says that they already have a healthy order bank, including a couple of sales already to customers from the Republic of Ireland. It’s hoped that more customers again will come looking for one once the first demonstrator models are on the ground from September.

Roberto Fedeli, former Ferrari engineer and now head of technology for Aston Martin, said of the new DB12: “DB12 is a statement car. One that asserts Aston Martin’s position as a leader in performance, dynamics, engineering and technology. We have pushed every aspect of this car to be best-in-class. The result is more power and performance than its rivals. Combined with exceptional handling and an exciting soundtrack, it is a car with passion and a truly sporting character. Crucially, thanks to its breadth of capability we have achieved this without compromising refinement, comfort and luxury. Together with our use of industry-leading dynamic control and infotainment systems, DB12 is the start of Aston Martin’s most exciting new era.”

While the DB12 remains avowedly petrol-powered, Aston Martin is starting to move towards fully-electric power, promising that it’s going to launch the first in a lineup of hypercar, GT, sports car, and SUV EV models in 2025. It will most likely be a version of the DBX SUV.

To speed up its electric car development, Aston Martin has this week signed a deal with electric car startup Lucid — which has already put its luxurious, long-ranged Air electric saloon on sale. Lucid has long been flirting with financial issues, and has recently seen significant falls in its stock value thanks to lower-than expected new car deliveries and sales, but Aston says that Lucid will provide it with ‘industry-leading’ technology.

Lucid won’t just provide its own electric car platforms for Aston Martin to re-clothe, though. Aston is adamant that it’s going to design its own in-house electric car chassis.

Lawrence Stroll, Executive Chairman of Aston Martin, said: “The supply agreement with Lucid is a game changer for the future EV-led growth of Aston Martin. Based on our strategy and requirements, we selected Lucid, gaining access to the industry’s highest performance and most innovative technologies for our future BEV products. We will not only leverage the significant investments Lucid has made to develop its world-class technologies, but will also further enhance and differentiate the drive experience through the work Roberto Fedeli and his teams are already developing, aligned with our ultra-luxury, high-performance strategy.

“Along with Mercedes-Benz, we now have two world-class suppliers to support the internal development and investments we are making to deliver our electrification strategy. With the recently announced long-term partnership with Geely, we will also gain the opportunity to access their range of technologies and components, as well as their deep expertise of the key strategic market of China. Overall, today’s announcement is a further significant step towards delivering our ambition for Aston Martin.”

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring