Crowning glory: Aston Martin's DB9 powers into its second decade with new Carbon editions
The Aston Martin DB9 is ten. In today's fast moving motor industry, accelerated product cycles mean that models rarely reach their first decade. At the upper end of the market, things are rather different. These customers want permanence, solidity and dependability from their brands, and the essential rightness of the very first DB9 back in 2004 formed the bedrock of Aston's hugely successful decade.
Before DB9, there were only inklings of what was to come in the shape of the Vanquish and DB7, the former a niche supercar, the latter a flawed but elegant GT. DB9 moved the game on substantially, and it's a testament to Aston's engineers and designers that the car enters its second decade without conceding anything to its competitors.
From a strictly objective point of view, the DB9 isn't quite as quick or as efficient as other, newer, supercars. But in the ten years it's been on sale, there has been something of a sea change in the make-up of this hallowed sector. For one thing, the market has moved up; £200k is now considered a baseline price for a cutting edge GT, the territory occupied by Ferrari, McLaren and AM's own Vanquish.
The DB9's natural milieu is alongside Bentley's GT and Maserati's GranTurismo, also long-lived designs that have survived through fettling and gradual transformation, rather than revolution, but it's increasingly joined by ultra-performance offerings from the likes of Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes and BMW, big brands that don't quite have the cachet of Aston. For your £130k+, you can have beauty, elegance, craft and one of the most evocative badges on the road.
So it's a survivor, but a deserving one, and even the shortest acquaintance with the car confirms this. The latest iterations of the DB9 are the special Carbon editions, contrasting black and white versions with visual tweaks and added extras in the shape of some specially crafted carbon fibre detailing inside and out. It's subtle, but that's the point, for the DB9 has always appealed to the discerning.
Sure, there's AM's ageing V12 at its core, an engine that appeals to emotion rather than reason, sonorous not sensible. And despite the craft and care that's gone into the interior, the car's ergonomic shortcomings are still there to be endured. It has the dual character of the classic GT, either cruising majestically or scything into bends with gusto. The exhaust isn't too stentorian, efficiency not too lacking and, best of all, the body shape remains close to perfection.
We love the DB9. In recent weeks it's been finally confirmed that Aston Martin has the funds in place to create its successor, thanks largely to a technological partnership with Mercedes' AMG division. Tradition will probably dictate that the V12 stays, and right now it's hard to imagine AM's big GT without it. What's harder to foresee is how the DB9's successor will evolve visually. Marek Reichman and his team are doubtless setting out the forms right now; they have their work cut out to trump this evergreen motoring icon.