Aston Martin DBS

The 2012 Aston Martin is offered either in coupe form or as a DBS Volante convertible--which comes with a power fabric top capable of stowing away in just 14 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. Both versions feature a mammoth 5.9L V12, making 510 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, and capable of reaching 190 mph, or of getting to 60 mph in just over four seconds.

Buyers have a choice between a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, with the latter including steering-wheel paddle-shifters, as well as a Sport Mode. All models include an adaptive damping system that allows crisp handling when it's wanted, while still permitting a reasonably comfortable ride over choppy pavement.

Likewise, the DBS Volante's voice seems to have a dual personality. During gentle driving, it's not much louder than other luxury coupes, but revving the engine above 4,000 rpm opens a bypass to bring out the V12's sonorous call.

Underpinnings are manufactured mostly of aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber (with all-carbon-fiber hood, fenders, and trunk lid), allowing the DBS to weigh less than 4,000 pounds--even in Volante form. Carbon-ceramic matrix brakes are also standard; they're not only lighter than conventional brakes but have shorter braking distances and more resistance to fade.

The DBS has a 2+2 layout, with the rear seats barely more than small shelves. Coupes have just enough trunk space for a light weekend away, but convertibles are more limited.

In either case, it comes with HID headlamps, LED taillights and standard 20-inch diamond-turned alloy wheels; interior trim includes full-grain leather, matrix alloy and Iridium Silver interior surrounds and trim and carbon-fiber door pulls.

Interior appointments include Bang & Olufsen sound--with 13 speakers, iPod and USB connectivity and a compensation system for wind noise in the Volante--plus a hard-drive-based navigation system, heated seats, power-folding side mirrors, various wood and leather trim upgrades and serious motorsports extras like racing seats.

Volante versions of the DBS include a deployable roll-bar system that, in anticipation of a rollover, helps protect occupants.

Editors' First Take

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Modern culture loves a good reboot, and Aston Martin is in the throes of a pretty epic one. It all started with the DB11, the first episode in a modern retooling of a beloved franchise, sporting generations of passionate fans the likes of which any Marvel Cinematic Universe property would kill for. After the V12 DB11 came the predictable V8 and convertible variations on the theme, followed by the smaller, lighter and harder-edged Vantage. Next, Aston really turned the DB11 up to 11 with the racier DB11 AMR.

Where to go from there? Bigger, badder and faster, of course. Welcome to the $304,995 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, a car with with the pedigree and beauty to make even the most practical of car buyers a little weak in the knees. It has the power, too: 715 horses worth. But does it have the overall poise and performance to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Bentley? I headed to Bavaria to find out.

A strong foundation

The DBS Superleggera is the latest adaptation of the formula that made the DB11 so successful, including the same basic structure and suspension and even the same 5.2-liter, twin-turbo V12 spinning an eight-speed automatic transmission. This car, then, shares more than a little DNA with the DB11, but that's not to say that nothing has changed.

That's a new ZF transmission in the rear, needed to cope with the massive 663 pound-feet of torque -- 150 more than the DB11, and 130 more than the Ferrari 812 Superfast. Even that new box isn't enough, with the DBS suffering the ignominy of a one-third torque cut in first gear and roughly 12 percent in second. The sprint from 0 to 62 miles per hour clicks by in just 3.4 seconds, a half-second faster than DB11, but a little slower than you might think given that power.

That increase in performance comes exclusively thanks to increased boost, almost 3 PSI (0.2 bar) worth, plus a new exhaust. Aston didn't even throw in a token piston upgrade or any other revision beyond software to boost the V12 up to the stunning figures of 663 lb-ft of torque and 715 horsepower. However, more power means more heat, so cooling was vastly upgraded to compensate, something DB11 owners should think about before calling their friendly local tuners.

A revised suspension tune split the difference between the pliant DB11 and the vicious Vantage, though the overall configuration has more in common with the former than the latter. Carbon ceramic brakes all-round are standard and there's plenty more carbon to be found throughout the car, resulting in a 159 pound weight reduction over the DB11 if you spec out the optional titanium exhaust and lithium-ion battery. The Superleggera badge on the snout is more than marketing, then. That's 3,732 pounds if you're counting, with a 51:49 front:rear weight distribution.

A luscious look

As most of the underpinnings are shared between DBS and DB11, it's no surprise that the styling is familial, too. While the doors and glass are actually the same between the two cars, everything else transforms this new Aston into something else. While the DB11 is a pretty car, the DBS Superleggera is a sultry one, with flares and bulges in all the right places to announce its abilities and its intentions.

It starts at the front with a nose that flows in much the same way as the DB11, now opened up to provide more airflow. The hood features vast perforations, giving an aggressive first impression. Aston Martin's traditional, horizontal side-strake behind the front wheels was replaced here with a taller series of gills designed to stabilize airflow around the side of the car. 

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