Aston Martin DB9 Review

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2009 Aston Martin DB9 Review & Road Test

Is the best looking car ever made a show pony? No way!

* Paint - Contemporary - $1324
* Sports Pack - $6620
* Leather Colour - Contemporary - $1324
* Facia Trim - Mahogany - $1324
* Matching Wood Door Trims - $1324

Engine, transmission, power, poise, noise and, of course, looks

Packaging, some interior niggles

CarAdvice Rating:

-Photography by www.ozcarsightings.com

You know there's something not quite right with the world when the best soccer player there is can command millions of dollars, suit every clothing brand sponsorship deal, and is a pin up boy for good looks, yet when he opens his mouth, sounds like a four-year-old boy.

You can be aesthetically attractive, but if you don't have the balls to back it up, it's not a great combo. You really need the complete package to carry it off. Something that covers all bases.

When the man from Aston Martin rang to say that there was a DB9 free and it's about time we reviewed it again, we were all ears. After all, it's comfortable, powerful and drop dead gorgeous. That makes it the complete package then, right?

The particular car made available to CarAdvice had one extra thing going for it. It just so happened to be a TV star.

You might recognise it from the Top Gear Australia road trip in episode eight. In that episode it was up against a Porsche Turbo, and a Lamborghini Superleggera, through the roads of Tasmania. In my mind at least, the DB9 was not exactly a competing car. The other two are hard edged sports cars. The DBS would have been a better fit for that story.

No matter, because after you've watched the episode, you'll realise that there was no real conclusion and no proper information on the car itself, until now. As part of the MY09 lineup, this DB9 has a few improvements on last year's model, making it more user friendly.

The whole centre stack has been redesigned, and reflects the DBS in look and feel. There's now a better centre joystick control - no longer do you push in, only to have it slip up instead - it goes where you want it. The steering wheel controls are now more comprehensive, and the DB9 receives an Emotional Control Unit (ECU) for starting the car. A plastic spare is supplied, too.

Thankfully the interior is beautifully presented, with real wood, lashings of leather, and supreme suede. The subtle LED ambient lighting sets off the driving mood. There's still a few Ford parts lurking around the place, but they've been cleverly integrated to suit the Aston Martin image.

It's still a wonder why the two back seats are offered, though, as even my two-and-a-half year old son couldn't even hang his feet off the squab. Like so many 2+2s, the DB9 misses the mark slightly with its packaging.

The better half also complained about the make-up mirror which wasn't just minuscule, but also warped, making it impossible to obtain an accurate reflection, a problem shared across the whole Aston range. The glovebox is similarly tiny. But all these little niggles melt into the background, as soon as you insert the ECU.

Slide the glass key into the slot, hold it all the way in and a there's a tick followed by a quick metallic whirr. The six-litre, V12 barks into life and settles into a low growling hum. You'll notice at idle the engine is as smooth as silk.

It makes it easier to crawl away from the lights, or reverse out of your driveway, without a sudden jolt or chirp of the tyres. If you do want to launch it, though, just hit the Sport button located on the bottom right of the centre stack.

It noticeably sharpens the response both off the line, and when rolling. It also kicks down much quicker, and when using the paddles allows you to tag the rev limiter. A perfect description of what that button does - makes the DB9 more sporty.

In fact, as far as smoothness, response and spacing of ratios goes, the gearbox in the DB9 is about as good as you'll get. Couple it with that roaring V12 engine and your left brain and right foot are suddenly in their happy place.

The engine might be a few years old now, but that doesn't make it any less special. Sure, it's got an appetite for 98RON, but then any car in the premium category does. Regardless of its fuel use, the six-litre is a masterpiece of aural symphony, smoothness and power.

It has decent torque from idle, but it builds with every passing notch of the tacho, and then at 4000rpm it's in its stride, pulling harder but with a final lunge towards the redline. Oh, and did we mention the sound?

A user-friendly unit if ever there was one, the V12 takes on any given role, both sweet and sanguinary. Slotted into the DB9's VH (vertical/horizontal) chassis, it sits back far enough to maintain a near perfect weight distribution, which reflects in the car's handling.

The DB9 is a GT car, so you'd expect a soft approach, however its sharpness on turn in takes you by surprise. Sure, the steering is a bit wooden and artificial in its feel, but at least there's a decent weighting. In low to medium speed corners it does tend to push a little wide, but with so many ponies on tap and a decent length wheelbase, a quick stab of the throttle will cure that.

Actually with the optional Sports pack, the handling is very good. There's little roll, the chassis works with the suspension in quick vertical movements, and the balance is excellent. The ride is a little abrupt, though, and the road noise is quite intrusive for a car of this calibre.

The drumming effect on coarse-chip surfaces can be a little wearing, however, the trade-off is sure-footed stability. Find a road with long sweepers in the country somewhere, and you can turn in with confidence, knowing that it's going to bite, and that with its sharp steering, you'll have a smile on your face - all the time, every time.

But the real reason you buy the DB9 is not the way it accelerates, or the way it handles, or even the way it feels - it's the way it looks. In my mind at least, it's the most gorgeous car on sale in the world. The way it slopes along from front to back, with its trademark coke-bottle curves, and the shark-like front end, means it goes down in the history books as a design that will never age.

Fifty years from now you won't find anyone saying, "You know that DB9 from the noughties; that was a bit of a fizzer, looks-wise, wasn't it?" It will always be stunning.

The finish on the white pearlescent bodywork has the hallmarks of a $360,000-plus car. The gloss level and luminescent quality of the flecks in the paint almost puts you in mind of the glowing sea-creatures in James Cameron's The Abyss.

You'll also notice the leather-work inside is not only pure quality, but the craftsmanship reflects the prestige nature of this car. The smoothness of the finish of the dash, the perfection in stitching, the Swiss-watch precision of finish of the instrumentation; it all points to a carefully crafted GT car.

The Aston Martin DB9 doesn't have the hardcore edge of the DBS, and it's not a patch on the exquisite handling of its baby Vantage brother, yet the DB9 sits carefully positioned between the two. It's a cruiser that gives you a shove in the back when you need it, and will take on the twisty bits with tact.

It's a car that will run to the shops and back like any other daily driver, yet it will hammer along a mountain road keeping your heart racing. It will amble along a beach boulevard, or cruise the countryside.

The DB9 has the talent to tackle any task. If it were a soccer player, it would bend it like Beckham, and speak like a man. Finally, we have a car that can match its looks with real ability.

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