Immaculately styled, obsessively engineered and outrageously potent, the DBS Superleggera claims to be every inch the Aston Martin flagship. We're here to decide whether it's a truly credible expression of everything an ultimate Aston Martin sportscar should stand for. At launch in 2018, it was billed as the fastest and most powerful road car the brand had ever built. And we're going to test it.
Building a track-focused Super Sportscar is one thing. Building a super-powerful Grand Touring GT sports coupe is another. Can the two genres really be combined? Super GT sportscars like this one reckon they can. Aston Martin's take on the concept may not be 'super-light' as its Italian-derived badging promises, but this DBS model's pulling power surpasses anything that rivals can muster. The 5.2-litre V12 puts out a thumping 900Nm of torque and develops 715hp, enough to propel the car to 62mph in 3.4s and to 100mph in 6.4s on the way to a top speed of 211mph. Rivals struggle to deliver this kind of power in a form able to engage and reward drivers of all ability levels, but the Superleggera is a car you don't need to be a hero to really enjoy.
Ostensibly, it shares much with its lesser DB11 stablemate - not only that model's top engine but also its aluminium chassis and its 8-speed torque-converter ZF auto gearbox. There's also a revised quad exhaust, bespoke suspension geometry, wider tracks, a stiffer chassis with a tweaked front anti-roll bar, stickier, wider Pirelli P Zero tyres and a whole range of aero tweaks that can deliver as much as 180kgs of high speed downforce. There's a special feel here that no other model from the brand manages to quite replicate, creating the kind of GT the old Vanquish always should have been. The result is a car you have to try to understand everything an Aston Martin can be.
Bulging in all the right places, this car is extreme, intimidating, pugnacious and aggressive. Which the kind of people who buy cars like this will probably like very much. A word about body styles: it's easy to see why you might also be tempted by the charms of the open-topped Volante variant, which features a fabric roof retractable in just 14 seconds. To our eyes though, the coupe version's swept-back silhouette is difficult to better. In profile, it delivers a dramatically honed physique, with emphasised lower side sills and drawn-in flanks that are sculpted to accentuate the muscularity of the broad front shoulders and powerful rear haunches.
And inside? Well essentially, what's delivered here is an upgraded DB11 - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. That car set fresh standards for the quality of Aston Martin interior design and this one enhances that formula with a well-judged package of embellishments, including hip-hugging Sports Plus seats and a squared-off race-style Sports Plus steering wheel with longer full-length fixed paddle shifters. In keeping with this Superleggera's GT remit, you get a pair of rear seats. And the 270-litre boot is the same size as that you get in a DB11, which makes it 50-litres smaller than that in a rival Ferrari 812 Superfast.
By almost every measurement, the DBS Superleggera is a very special sportscar. And in almost every way, it's worthy of its positioning as a flagship Aston Martin model. Though on paper, comparisons to the Ferrari 812 Superfast seem evident, in practice, the Superleggera is a rather different car, less track-focused to be sure but also more road-orientated and easier to live with.
Ultimately, what's important here is that the DBS formula is a traditionally Aston Martin one, which is rather reassuring in an era in which the brand is diversifying into uncharted territory like hybrid technology, mid-engined motoring and SUVs. Engineering like that is needed if the company's future is to be sustainable, but the marque can't afford to forget its heritage in producing the kind of classic Super GT that small boys can dream about and wealthy enthusiasts can aspire to. So we welcome the Superleggera. There's nothing quite like it.Click here to find out more about our Aston Martin DBS Superleggera range