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Time to buy Aston Martin DBS (2007 - 2012)

2014-09-03 Read: 1 408x

The Aston Martin DBS is one of those achingly beautiful Aston flagship cars that will always find a ready used market. Will it be a classic model? Probably not. The DBS replaced the Vanquish and it was replaced by the Vanquish, which, in a nutshell, identifies where its manufacturer's allegiances lay. If the DBS was indeed marking time, it did so very successfully and there are many who prefer the sleeker lines of the DBS to the more powerhouse look and feel of a Vanquish. Here's what to look for when looking for a used example.

Models

2dr coupe and convertible (5.9 petrol [UB-2010, Carbon Black & Black edition])

History

Introduced in 2007, the Aston Martin DBS will be familiar to many as Daniel Craig's debut ride in his excellent turn as James Bond in Casino Royale. That car was spectacularly wrecked on the hill route at Millbrook test track in a scene for the movie but by then the car had made the perfect impression with movie goers worldwide. What wasn't so well publicised was the fact that the DBS was, at its heart, no more than a development of the more affordable DB9 but it was smarter, cleaner and lighter. The DBS heralded a new era. Though developed under Ford, its future always lay firmly with a consortium who promised to make Aston Martin a desirable niche sportscar maker with its own direction rather than a premium brand tied to a multi-national corporation. No more borrowed bits or restrictions on development, we were promised. And to be fair, they've made good on that promise. The old Newport Pagnell factory was closed and production that had been undertaken at Steyr in Austria is now all done in house at Gaydon in the UK. The DBS rather predictably spawned a Volante convertible version in 2009 and this was followed by the Carbon Black edition featuring bespoke Carbon Black metallic paint especially formulated with a subtle metallic twist to create a deep rich patina. In production, each car underwent 50 man-hours of hand painting followed by stringent quality checks. Inside, there's Obsidian Black leather highlighted with a contrast silver coarse stitch. Lightweight seats formed from Carbon Fibre and Kevlar saving 17 kg over the standard seat also feature on all models, together with a Piano black finish for the fascia trim, centre stack and centre console, plus anodised black tread plates and unique sill plaques to build on the carbon theme. There's also a magnificent Bang & Olufsen Beosound DBS audio system A handful of unique DBS models were produced, most notably the vanity project that was the UB-2010 edition. Designed to commemorate Dr. Ulrich Bez's 10th year as Chief Executive of the company, this was a limited run of 40 DBS models, comprising 20 Coupes and 20 Volantes. Each of these unique DBS UB-2010 cars were specified personally by Dr. Bez and featured an 'Azurite Black' paint finish, metallic bronze leather seats with woven leather inserts and a 'Cryptic Titan' fascia finish. Each car also featured 'UB-2010' sill plaques signed by Dr. Bez, together with a final inspection plate. You need more DBS special editions? We've had the Carbon Black, why not reprise that with the Carbon edition in 2011. No prizes for originality, but the car itself is worth looking out for. It was offered in Flame Orange and Ceramic Grey together with the existing Carbon Black. A first for Aston Martin here was the option to specify a satin lacquer paint finish, creating a silk-like texture. The Carbon Edition also got 10-spoke gloss black diamond turned wheels. Harmonising with the exterior finish, it had a black grille, carbon fibre mirror heads, carbon rear lamp in-fills and smoked rear lights. The interior trim was finished in obsidian black or maranello orange semi-aniline leather.

What You Get

Designer Marek Reichman had to base the DBS on the existing DB9, so there were inevitably some compromises that the clean-sheet Vanquish creators didn't have to concern themselves with. Aston Martin describe this car as 'the culmination of the DB bloodline', designing it to bridge the gap between the more GT-focused DB9 and more track-focused Astons like the DBRS9 racer. Reichman's brief at the beginning was to lower the DB9 design by 20mm, add 20-inch wheels (for the first time on an Aston), widen the track (by 20mm at the front and 40mm at the rear) and make the whole look that bit more aggressive. Most will agree that he's succeeded. For some potential owners, the fact that the DB9's two rear child seats were only optional in this car and will have been deleted by many first time buyers will be bad news, making car unusable for the infrequent occasions when they have to step in on the school run or run friends back from the pub. No one will be surprised by the lack of luggage space however. Specially tailored Aston Martin luggage is probably a must. Equipment includes everything you would expect from a car like this: electric memory heated sports seats with ten-way electric adjustment, parking sensors, a trip computer, power-folding mirrors, those gorgeous 20-inch alloys, sat nav and a beautifully finished interior set off by an all-alloy centre console. There's a very sophisticated car alarm and a tracking device should the worst happen.

What You Pay

Prices are now dipping below £80,000 for the early 2008 model year cars. This naturally nets you a DBS coupe, typically showing around 25,000 miles on the clock. Manual cars are a lot easier to track down than the Touchtronic autos, largely because it was felt by many buyers that Aston Martin missed a trick in not equipping the previous Vanquish with a manual 'box, so when one became available they were snapped up greedily. The first of the Volante open topped cars are around £100,000 for a good example with an impeccable service record.

What to Look For

Look out for stone chipping on the front of the car. Diligent owners usually specify paint protection. There have also been some reports of satellite navigation screens switching themselves spuriously into night mode, so check that this works as specified. The engines are generally bulletproof but there are a few small things to look for when buying. Insurance will be extremely expensive. It's in the top band for road fund licence and there's a £250 Horizon Eurowatch Tracker annual fee to take on. Make sure you get at least one Tracker fob and ensure that the seller demonstrates how to pair your phone to the Tracker. A spare plastic key is essential in case you smash the £700 glass one. Finally, make sure you get an Aston Martin umbrella if shopping at a main dealer!

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2011 DBS Coupe) Spares prices are commensurate with a supercar. You'll need £500 if you manage to nerf one side of your front splitter on a speed hump. Specialists will be able to replace front wing fenders at £1,110 a go, while recon starter motors are around £200. Air filters are around £82 and should an errant thrush dive through your front grille, you'll need £650 to purchase a new one.

On the Road

The engine bay actually isn't where much of the development budget for this car was spent. The Vanquish's familiar 48-valve 6.0-litre V12 still resides here, though it's been enhanced with a smarter bypass system that opens (at 5500 rpm) at higher revs to provide additional intake air. There's also a slightly higher compression ratio 10.9 :1 (Vanquish 10.8 :1) and re-profiled inlet ports, all of which, Aston claims, gives the car a bit more zip at higher revs. You wouldn't know that from looking at the bald statistics - maximum power of 380 kW (510 bhp/517 PS)  and torque of 570 Nm (420 lb ft), a step down from the figures recorded by the old Vanquish ( 388 kW [520bhp/527 PS] and 577 Nm [425 lb.ft] ). Yet this car is significantly faster and the reason isn't hard to find. Carbon fibre body panels (a first for Aston Martin), lighter seats and lighter brakes help to curb weight by 180kg (DBS 1695 kg - around 9%) over the portly Vanquish (1875 kg). All of which helps the DBS towards the kind of pace that at launch, set it clearly above any car the marque had yet produced. Rest to sixty takes just over 4.3 seconds (Vanquish 4,8s) and rest to 100mph occupies only 8.7s (Vanquish 9.8s). The top speed? 191mph (307 km) and Vanquish  200mph (321 km/h).. The awful semi-automatic transmission of the Vanquish was ditched in this car for a far more satisfying 6-speed manual. The brakes are ceramic and proved to be a huge improvement on the steel discs previously used which tended to fade easily with hard track use. The lighter weight of course has handling benefits too and this car will clearly feel more agile to owners used to the more GT-orientated set-up of its predecessor. There's quicker steering and suspension that has been both stiffened and lowered. Despite this, the engineers have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that the ride feels comfortable over rough surfaces.

Overall

The Aston Martin DBS demonstrates that you can buy an exotic car without constantly worrying that it'll spit out its dummy in the traffic or throw a tantrum when it's not used for a week. Does this make it any less special? No, it's just a testament to its depth of engineering. We might grumble that all Astons look the same, but with a private plate on it, how many would be able to distinguish between a 2007 DBS and a 2013 Vanquish? The DBS might not go down as one of the classic Astons in years to come, but as a used supercar proposition, right here, right now, it's extremely tough to better, especially if you can choose a low mileage early car that's sliced off the steepest part of its depreciation curve. Happy hunting.

Aston Martin DBS coupe

British supercars come no better than Aston Martin's gorgeous DBS. Jonathan Crouch checks it out...

Ten Second Review

Bond is back - and so is Aston Martin. In place of the rather cumbersome Vanquish comes the gorgeous DBS, introduced to us by 007 in Casino Royale. All right, at its heart, it's no more than a development of the more affordable DB9 but it's smarter, cleaner and because it's lighter, significantly faster. What's not to like?

Background

The Vanquish was the car that brought Aston Martin into a new era, courtesy of Ford ownership and money. The DBS heralds a new era too. Though developed under Ford, its future lies firmly with a consortium who promise to make Aston Martin a desirable niche sportscar maker with its own direction rather than a premium brand tied to a multi-national corporation. No more borrowed bits or restrictions on development, we're promised. Perhaps that will mean Astons becoming even more exclusive. Production of DBS models will be no more than 500 units for worldwide annual sale after all. In comparison, Porsche 911s are like Fiestas.

Driving Experience

The engine bay isn't where much of the development budget for this car was spent. The Vanquish's familiar 48-valve 6.0-litre V12 still resides here, though it's been enhanced with a smarter bypass system that opens at higher revs to provide additional intake air. There's also a slightly higher compression ratio and reprofiled inlet ports, all of which, Aston claims, gives the car a bit more zip at higher revs. You wouldn't know that from looking at the bald statistics - maximum power of 510bhp and torque of 420Ib ft, a step down from the figures recorded by the old Vanquish (520bhp and 425Ib ft). Yet this car is significantly faster and the reason isn't hard to find. Carbonfibre body panels (a first for Aston Martin), lighter seats and lighter brakes help to curb weight by 120kg (around 7%) over the portly Vanquish. All of which helps the DBS towards the kind of pace that sets it clearly above any car the marque has yet produced. Rest to sixty takes just over 4 seconds and rest to 100mph occupies only 9.4s. The top speed? 191mph. The awful semi-automatic transmission of the Vanquish has been ditched for a far more satisfying 6-speed manual. The brakes are ceramic, likely to be a huge improvement on the steel discs previously used which tend to fade easily with hard track use. The lighter weight of course has handling benefits too and this car will clearly feel more agile to owners used to the more GT-orientated set-up of its predecessor. There's quicker steering and suspension that has been both stiffened and lowered. Despite this, the engineers have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that the ride feels comfortable over rough surfaces.

Design and Build

Designer Marek Reichman had to base the DBS on the existing DB9, so there were inevitably some compromises that the clean-sheet Vanquish creators didn't have to concern themselves with. Aston Martin describe this car as 'the culmination of the DB bloodline', designing it to bridge the gap between the more GT-focused DB9 and more track-focused Astons like the DBRS9 racer. Reichman's brief at the beginning was to lower the DB9 design by 20mm, add 20-inch wheels (for the first time on an Aston), widen the track (by 20mm at the front and 40mm at the rear) and make the whole look that bit more aggressive. Most will agree that he's succeeded. For some potential owners, the fact that the DB9's two rear child seats have been ditched will be bad news, making car unusable for the infrequent occasions when they have to step in on the school run or run friends back from the pub. No one will be surprised by the lack of luggage space however. Specially tailored Aston Martin luggage is probably a must. Build quality from this marque has come on hugely in recent years, now a match for the best Aston's German rivals can offer.

Market and Model

Equipment includes everything you would expect from a car like this: electric memory heated sports seats with ten-way electric adjustment, parking sensors, a trip computer, power-folding mirrors, those gorgeous 20-inch alloys, sat nav and a beautifully finished interior set off by an all-alloy centre console. There's a very sophisticated car alarm and a Tracking device should the worst happen. The tyres are special DBS-spec Pirelli Corsa affairs (245/35 front and 295/30 rear) that you won't want to have to replace in a hurry. Following the poor reception given to the old Vanquish's semi-automatic transmission, there's no auto F1 paddle-style option.

Cost of Ownership

No one buys a car like this and expects it to be cheap to run. Don't expect to average better than around 20mpg even if you do a fair few motorway miles. There's also the irritation that the fuel tank is only 78 litres or 17 gallons (compared to say, a Ferrari 599 GTB's at 105 litres) which will make the car seem even thirstier than it is. Insurance of course is up at Group 20. Better news comes in terms of depreciation. Because of the car's exclusivity, expect residual values to be as high, if not higher, than Ferrari's. Servicing costs will inevitably be high, as for any supercar of this sort.

Summary

Overall, you have to consider the DBS a job well done by Aston. Given that they had to base the design on that of the existing DB9, this car has a remarkably unique personality - and is far more desirable at an asking price 'just' £50,000 more. If you've just won the lottery, it's a price hike worth swallowing. This is also the first real driver's Aston we can remember for some years. The V8 Vantage isn't really a great track car but this one will be much more at home on circuit days thanks to more focused handling and those fade-free ceramic brakes. Not that many DBS models will end up being thrashed in this way. They'll signal success in the way that Astons always have. And always will.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

The drop-top version of the Aston Martin DBS Volante is a car 007 would be proud to own. Steve Walker reports.

Preview

Presumably convertible cars are a big no-no for members of Her Majesty's Secret Service. Having your head exposed to the elements must be a major disadvantage when being pursued by a car load of angry Eastern Europeans with machine guns and rocket launchers, so Aston Martin's most famous customer might not be too enamoured with the DBS Volante. Fortunately, any red-blooded individual without a licence to kill and a cat stroking psychopath making regular attempts on their life, will absolutely love it. Mr Bond can stick with his coupe.

Ten Second Review

Posh DB9 or bona fide supercar dripping in carbon fibre, however you view the Aston Martin DBS, you have to recognise its pace and grace. In Volante convertible form, it gains a slick operating fabric hood and extensive chassis stiffening to compensate for the lack of fixed metalwork up top. It's quite a price but quality usually costs.

Background

Aston Martin has quite a history when it comes to convertible cars, with the DBS Volante being its 16th open-topped effort, joining a range that already included the Vantage Roadster and the DB9 Volante. The DBS is the marque's current flagship and although it shares many common parts with the DB9, it also incorporates a number of modifications designed to provide greater sporting focus. In convertible form, it adds the attraction of open air motoring into the mix but as with the standard DBS, this kind of quality, speed and exclusivity comes at a premium.

Driving Experience

The engine bay isn't where much of the DBS development budget was spent. The familiar 48-valve 6.0-litre V12 once found in the Vanquish resides here, though it's been enhanced with a smarter bypass system that opens at higher revs to provide additional intake air and a more aggressive exhaust note. There's also a slightly higher compression ratio and reprofiled inlet ports, all of which, Aston claims, gives the car a bit more zip at higher revs. Maximum power is identical in the Coupe and the Volante convertible with 510bhp and torque of 570Nm on tap but Volante owners will need to keep a tight hold on their hats and hair pieces before deploying it with the hood down. The maximum torque of the DBS is produced at 5,750rpm, which sounds quite high but with 85% of that output available from 1,500rpm, the car isn't lacking in muscle. Getting to 60mph is the work of 4.3s and the top speed is 191mph, so this convertible is equipped to live with the top supercars. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual but customers can opt for the wheel-mounted paddle shifters of the Touchtronic automatic.

Design and Build

The DBS Volante is another effortlessly beautiful car from Aston Martin although some of the DB9's elegance has been lost in the process of making this higher performance model look sufficiently aggressive. The hood is a fabric item which can open in just 14 seconds and is engineered to give the best possible insulation from noise and the elements. It disappears beneath the sculpted rear tonneau cover which features twin humps that hide Aston's ROPS Roll-Over-Protection-System that's comprised of twin metal hoops that deploy to protect occupants in a roll situation. Rigidity, or the loss of it, is always a major problem when removing the roof from a coupe to create a convertible but the DBS was designed with a Volante version in mind from the outset and the drop top car retains 75 per cent of the coupe's chassis stiffness. The car also inherits the neat weight distribution of the DBS by locating its gearbox in the rear to counterbalance the effects of that big V12 that's slung up front.

Market and Model

Equipment includes everything you would expect from a car like this: electric memory heated sports seats with ten-way electric adjustment, parking sensors, a trip computer, power-folding mirrors, some gorgeous 20-inch alloys, sat nav and a beautifully finished interior set off by an all-alloy centre console. There's a very sophisticated car alarm and a Tracking device should the worst happen. The stereo is a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound unit, the braking system uses carbon ceramic discs and the suspension is governed by Aston's Adaptive Damping system. It's nothing but the best for the DBS Volante. Of course, a specification like the one of the DBS Volante doesn't come cheap and the £50,000 price differential between this car and the ostensibly similar DB9 Volante will raise questions. With the DBS, Aston Martin is asking customers to pay for a product that takes things a little bit further and at this top end of the automotive market, going a little further can cost a lot.

Cost of Ownership

No one buys a car like this and expects it to be cheap to run. Don't expect to average better than around 20mpg even if you do a fair few motorway miles. There's also the irritation that the small fuel tank will make the car seem even thirstier than it is. Insurance of course is up at Group 20. Better news comes in terms of depreciation. Because of the car's exclusivity, expect residual values to be as high, if not higher, than an equivalent Ferrari's. Servicing costs will inevitably be high, as for any supercar of this sort.

Summary

007 might be deterred by the prospect of assassins' bullets piercing the fabric hood but there are plenty of people who'd kill to own an Aston Martin DBS Volante, and with good reason. It's largely what you would expect from a car that sits at the top of the Aston Martin product range with engineering, luxury, technology and performance coming together under a predictably exclusive price tag.

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