Generation Y, the millennial generation, is all about experiences. Turns out, they’d rather spend their money on travel, food and adventure than on material goods.
Frankly, that inclination never really made sense to me, a millennial. A trip is fleeting and memories are fluid. But stuff … stuff is forever.
Accordingly, I’ve filled my life with dozens of cheap used cars, a pretty snazzy collection of sport coats (if I do say so myself) and more than a handful of Legos. All the while, I watched as my friends uploaded images of themselves in front of the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower and on the rims of Icelandic fjords.
For my exposure to foreign cultures and lands, I relied on TV shows and the occasional Snapple bottle top to satiate my negligible need for world exploration. Meanwhile, I settled into the realization that I would never side with my contemporaries in the argument of stuff versus experience.
That said, never in my life did I expect to find an object that I thought might knock my fellow millennials off the experience train and back onto the the possessions path. However, I think I’ve found it: The Aston Martin DB11, the tactile good that could cure the millennial obsession with experiences. And, funnily enough, I had to travel to Tuscany to experience it for myself.
Turns out, Tuscany is a beautiful place and far greener than I had expected.
What struck me most about it, though, was that its visual splendor wasn’t ‘in your face.’ Instead, it has a subtle allure. Unlike, say, the Grand Canyon, the Tuscan landscape doesn’t punch you in the face. You could admire it and soak it in, or you could just as well ignore it.
If you do study the rolling, tree-covered hills of Tuscany, you’re in for a treat. It’s dotted with distinctive geography and picturesque towns. Because of its understated beauty, Tuscany was the perfect place to first lay eyes on the DB11.
Walking up to the DB11 for the first time, I couldn’t believe I was looking at a production car and not a concept. That said, none of it was ‘too much’ or garish. Every single carefully crafted line was both subdued and essential to the whole.
The hood, for example, which is the largest single piece of aluminum on any production car, wraps over the front and gives it a sleek, sporty but hunkered-down look. And cut into the expansive piece of perfectly curved aluminum clamshell hood are four air vents that cool the engine beneath its skin.
Following the lines to the back, you discover the DB11 is far wider than you might expect. Its broad rear haunches drop off abruptly at the sharp C-shaped taillights. And although the rear-end is a bit squat, it hides some clever design work.
The lines of the DB11 send air underneath the bodywork, which is forced out on the rear lip of the car that Aston Martin calls the “Aeroblade.” This creates a virtual spoiler of air, which serves the same aerodynamic function as a physical spoiler without causing any drag.
The distinctive new but decidedly Aston Martin exterior styling is underpinned by an all-new chassis. I won’t bore you with its details. The highlight, however, is that since Aston Martin designed the chassis to accommodate both four passengers in the cabin and a V12 engine under the hood, it’s far roomier than not only its predecessor, the DB9, but also other cars in its class.
The V12 Aston designers left room for in the chassis is an impressive thing indeed. Unlike so many carmakers today, Aston refuses to install engines with fewer cylinders to its cars. So it developed a new 5.2-liter V12 engine and bolted to it two turbochargers.
Push far enough and the DB11’s roar and raw, animalistic power will make your blood run cold.
The result is raucous 600 horsepower that is routed to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transaxle (a transmission/axle hybrid) mounted in the rear of the car. All told, the DB11 will do a 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.9 seconds on the way to its 205-mph top speed.
You can fire the engine one of two ways: By pressing the ignition button quickly or holding it for several seconds. The latter causes the V12 to ignite quietly, rather than with a roar. Of course, I preferred the roar of the quick-push ignition.
For as shouty as it is at ignition, the DB11 is even louder at full throttle. And its perfectly tuned exhaust note is matched by some truly prodigious acceleration. Since the V12 is turbocharged, its acceleration isn’t as snappy as other naturally aspirated engines.
I’d liken it to stepping on a fresh, bendy branch versus a dry, brittle one. That doesn’t accurately impart the gravity of the turbo’d V12. So, instead, let’s say pushing the throttle to the floor is like pestering a pet tiger versus a wild wolverine. A tamed tiger will put up with you for a minute before it attacks, but a wolverine will just haul off and maul you.
That’s the DB11’s V12: Thanks to the turbos, you can bat it around for a minute without fear of immediate retaliation. Push far enough, though, and its roar and raw, animalistic power will make your blood run cold.
That’s not to say that the car is unwieldy. The DB11 is a grand tourer, which means it’s soft and more stately than a sports car. Its electronic steering is very light but also quite precise. And in its standard suspension ride mode, the DB11 glides down the road like a big, soft sedan. Though it can be ratcheted up to Sport+, which makes it taut without also being vertebrae-fusing.
Even when you’re not indulging in the sounds and organ-reordering acceleration of the DB11, you’re still audience to one of the most stylish modern luxury interiors on the planet.
Aston Martin’s representatives stressed that everything occupants see and feel inside the cabin is real. If it feels like leather, it is. If it feels like carbon fiber, it is. And if you’re looking at the interior and think it reminds you a bit of a fine leather loafer, there’s good reason. Aston designers borrowed leather detail work from high-end shoe designs.
They then mated all those high-end materials with segment-leading technology from Mercedes-Benz. That means the DB11 has both old-world luxury and also cutting-edge technology.
The thing is, for as apt as it was for Aston Martin to launch its latest car in Tuscany, I could have driven the DB11 in Toledo, Ohio and enjoyed it just as much. The rich greenery of Central Italy didn’t make the experience for me, the car and the painstaking, handcrafted care that went into making it did.
That’s because with its outstanding exterior styling, raw V12 power (and soundtrack) and sumptuous but tech-laden interior, the DB11 transcends the physical world and the rules governed by traditional objects and into the world of experience. You don’t simply own or drive the DB11, you experience it.
What’s more, it’s more than just one of the best ‘things’ on the planet, it’s also one of the ultimate experiences money can buy. Millennials, your experience fixation has met its match.
2017 Aston Martin DB11
Stunning exterior styling Incomparable V12 power & soundtrack Sumptuous, techie interior
Costs as much as a lifetime of travel
The Bottom Line
Aston Martin hasn’t just created the latest and greatest ultra-luxurious sport coupes on the planet, it has created one of the ultimate experiences money can buy.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.