Aston Martin DB92004 - 2016
Category: Gaydon era
The Aston Martin DB9 is a grand tourer first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show. Available both as a coupe and a convertible known as the Volante, the DB9 was the successor of the DB7. It was the first model built at Aston Martin's Gaydon facility.
The DB9, designed by Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker, is made largely of aluminium. The chassis is the VH platform, also found in the Aston Martin DBS. The engine, on the other hand, is the 6.0L V12 from the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. The most recent Aston Martin has a top speed of 295 km/h (183 mph) and a 0 to 97 km/h (60 mph) time of 4.1 seconds.
The DB9 is rated well by car critics, who appreciate the car's interior and exterior design. In spite of comments regarding the DB9's weaker engine and handling, reviewers liked the car's ride and driving experience. Some also held issue with the DB9's small rear seats, cargo space and poor satnav.
The 2012 version has seen many improvements to the design, the engine and the overall driving experience. It now has the most powerful engine yet with peak power of 517 PS and 620 NM of torque. It also comes with carbon ceramic brakes as standard.
Aston Martin Racing has adapted the DB9 for sports car racing, producing the DBR9 for FIA GT1 and the DBRS9 for FIA GT3. These two cars are lightened DB9s; the interior features are removed and the aluminium body panels are replaced by carbon fibre panels. Additionally, engine has been tweaked in both the cars to produce more horsepower. The DBR9 has won in several events, including its debut event.
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The DB9 made a huge impact at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA). Every UK motor magazine made the DB9 their front page feature - be in no doubt, the unveiling of the DB9 heralded the true start of a whole new era for Aston Martin. The DB9 was the first of what has become an extensive range of production and race Aston Martins to use VH architecture.
The intention was that it was to be the ‘GT’ offering’ in the fast growing AM range as it had occasional rear seats but it was also been engineered to behave like a sportscar. The car was powered by a third generation 450 bhp version of the 5.9 litre V12 developed from the Vanquish; initially produced by Cosworth Technology in the UK, the production of which moved to the Aston Martin Engine Plant in Cologne, Germany in September 2004. The DB9 itself is built in a purpose built state of the art facility at Gaydon, Warwickshire; part of a much larger site which also other brand members of the former Premier Automotive Group (Land Rover & Jaguar) and the British Motor Industry Heritage Centre.
The DB9 above has been especially sectioned to show the VH platform. The individual die-cast, extruded or stamped aluminium elements of the VH platform are bonded with strong adhesives and self-piercing rivets to make a lightweight but stiff backbone. Indeed the DB9 bodyshell weighs 25% less than that of the DB7 but has twice the torsional rigidity. The VH platform was never shared with any other vehicle from the Ford family, but a shortened wheelbase version is also used on the V8/V12 Vantage and a longer version on the four door Rapide.
The interiors of Aston Martins have always been very special places to be. Never overfilled with gadgets and toys but beautifully tailored with the finest of materials. The DB9 followed that theme with acres of Bridge of Weir leather, aluminium and wood. The use of wood in the interior was different from previous Astons, with a choice of walnut, mahogany and bamboo; it’s finish was described as oiled rather than polished and appeared structural. The most pleasing part in the cabin was the starter button made of glass, sand etched with the Aston Martin wings logo; a feature that carried through all models until it’s replacement by the ‘Emotion Control Unit’ on the 2009MY cars.
In February 2008 at the Geneva Salon, AM announced the first major revision of the DB9 since it was first seen in 2003. Externally there are only three identifying features of the 09MY car, a new anodised aluminium five bar grille, DBS derived door mirrors and 19 inch 5 spoke alloy wheels from the DB9 Sports Pack.
Most importantly the DB9 09MY was fitted with a revised version of the 5.9 litre V12 engine tuned to deliver improved power and torque. Peak power of 470bhp (+20bhp) was now reached at 6,000rpm, resulting in a power to weight ratio of 267bhp per tonne (+11bhp per tonne over the original DB9). Peak torque of 600Nm was delivered at 5,000rpm. Accordingly, the quoted top speed went up to 190mph and the all important 0-60mph time improved by 0.3 seconds (to 4.6 seconds) for the Touchtronic 2 transmission, which benefited from a new valve box and integrated transmission controls to achieve quicker gear shifts. The rare manual DB9 was also quicker to 60mph by 0.1 seconds, down to 4.6 seconds.
The 2009MY DB9 also incorporated a series of chassis developments for both the Coupe and Volante derivates. Bilstein dampers were introduced in addition to revised upper suspension arms and retuned suspension bushes to deliver improved ride quality. The highly desirable Premium Sports pack was made available as an option early in 2010 which featured the Adaptive Damping System from the DBS. Deliveries of the revised DB9 coupe began during the second quarter of 2008 with a starting price in the UK of £113,950 with rarely specified manual transmission and £116,950 for the Touchtronic 2.
(2010 - 2012)
Mid June 2010, perhaps a little earlier that might have been expected, AM announced a revised DB9 for the 2011 model year. The car can easily be distinguished from it's predecessors by a new grille and front bumper with revised lower intakes, hexagonal-design mesh grilles, an upswept curve towards the back of the sill, clear rear light lenses (as previewed on the DB9LM), Magnum Silver meshes (also as first seen on the DB9LM) and 20-spoke diamond-turned wheels as standard (although the press picture, left, shows the new optional forged 19 inch 10 spoke diamond turned wheel), plus revised headlamp bezels.
The Adaptive Damping System, as first used on the DBS became available as standard equipment and thus the Premium Sports Pack was no longer offered as an option.
By the time the 2012MY DB9 entered production (from mid 2011), manual transmission was no longer available of the car even as an cost option. Also, in line with the new Virage, the car adopted the Garmin sat-nav and ‘beam blade’ wiper design, incorporating Bosch Aerotwin wiper blades.
The 2011/2012 MY DB9′s are considered quite rare as most buyers of the period bought either the DBS, Rapide or the latest Virage models instead. Manual transmission 2011MY DB9′s are extremely scarce indeed.
(2012 - 2016)
By 2012, the original DB9 had been the mainstay of the Aston Martin range for nine years and demand had wained. Indeed, it had been as good as replaced by the V12 Virage in the spring of 2011. Yet the upstart V12 Virage only lasted in production for a year before it was itself replaced by the 'new' MY2013 DB9. The 'new' DB9 was in fact a significant development of the short lived V12 Virage and was outwardly very similar indeed. Yet underneath the DB9 was fitted with the revised and more powerful AM11 engine, also fitted to the VH310 Vanquish. It was also the first car of the 4th generation (Gen4) of cars using the VH architecture offering enhanced chassis dynamics with improved ride quality and handling. Nearly 50% of all parts and more than 70% of all body panels are changed from the original DB9.
The Gen4 VH architecture features significant changes to the underbody structure which includes lowering the engine by 19mm. This has principally been done for compliance with the latest European Pedestrian Protection regulation without the need for complex deployable systems. That said, lowering of the engine has contributed to lowering the centre of gravity of the DB9 as a whole improving handling and driver response. The ‘new’ DB9 has a 20% increase in stiffness over the original model, it is also 15 kg lighter too.
The AM11 spec engine in the ‘new’ DB9 is exactly the same as fitted to the range topping Vanquish, but has been tuned to suit the character of the DB9. With peak power of 510 bhp, it is 40 bhp more powerful than the 2009MY DB9, 20 bhp more powerful than the previous Virage is therefore equal to the previous range topping GT, the DBS. As with the later original DB9 and Virage, the Gen4 DB9 is only available with six speed Touchtronic transmission with no manual option.
The ‘new’ DB9 braking system uses drilled Brembo Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) discs and monoblock calipers. The brakes are around 12.5kg lighter than a conventional system and on a GT in the price range of the DB9, CCM braking technology is rarely fitted as standard.
The 2013MY DB9 features Aston Martin’s ‘Gen4’ VH architecture version of the Adaptive Damping System (ADS). This next generation of ADS has been enhanced to include three modes; Normal, to deliver the greatest ride comfort, Sport, focused at delivering sharper handling and Track mode, where the damping operates within the range of the stiffest settings.
As with the previous Virage, the same 20 inch wheels come as standard, either 5 spoke as standard or a 10 spoke wheel as a cost option. In addition a new 10 spoke sport wheel, previously available on the DBS is available each of which is a kilo lighter than the standard wheel. Pirelli P Zero tyres are standard fit on the DB9 although Pirelli P Zero Corsa performance tyres are a cost option.
Two small but useful additions to the 2013MY DB9 are automatic rain sensing wipers and also headlights which automatically turn on and off according to the light levels in the surrounding environment. The ‘new’ DB9 can be specified as a 2+2 or as a 2+0 with lightweight seats use a carbon fibre and Kevlar composite structure, manufactured by Belco Avia, who also supply the motorsports and aerospace industries. By specifying the lightweight seats, their is a significant weight saving of 17 kg per car.
Identifying the ‘new’ DB9 from the outgoing Virage is really quite difficult. All of the special features of the Virage such as the aerosol section front grille, revised side strake design, bi-xenon headlights, glass switches and the welt feature in the interior. One way is that the DB9 has a pronounced flip-up on the boot lid. Also as an option, the DB9 can be specified with an exterior carbon pack comprising carbon fibre front splitter, rear diffuser, exterior mirror heads and mirror arms as well as a graphitic finish tail pipe trim.
Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, 9th September 2003, the Aston Martin DB9, is first car to be produced at the company's facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The innovative Aston Martin DB9 heralds an exciting new era for Aston Martin as it reflects the direction that the company is taking with all future models. Using a radical new aluminium bonded frame, the 2+2 Aston Martin DB9 is one of the most sophisticated and technically advanced sports cars in the world. It successfully balances the attributes of a sports car with features normally found on luxury cars.
The Aston Martin DB9 is a modern interpretation of a traditional Aston Martin sports car, representing a contemporary version of classic DB design elements and characteristics.
"We wanted an elegant, beautiful car - in keeping with Aston Martin tradition," says Director of Design Henrik Fisker. "I was of course acutely aware that Aston Martin is renowned for its superb styling. It has launched some of the most beautiful sports and GT cars ever seen."
Key traditional Aston Martin features incorporated into the Aston Martin DB9 include the distinctive grille, side strakes and clean, crisp, uncluttered lines.
Clean and elegant surfacing
"Aston Martins are not edgy cars - they don't have sharp surfaces or pronounced power domes," says Fisker. "The bodywork is elegant and gently curved, like a supremely fit person, with great muscle tone. But it is not like a body builder, who is bulky and out of harmony."
The side profile is very clean, with a single-sweep roofline. There is a pronounced boot - a noticeable feature of the Aston Martin DB4 andAston Martin DB5 - and the haunches on the rear wings are wide and curvaceous.
"A great deal of time was spent on the detailing," says Fisker. "In particular, we wanted to cut down on fuss. There are very few cut or shut lines. Each of the headlamps is set in single apertures in the front wings."
Nor is there a separate nose cone, another typical source of sports car design fussiness. The aluminium bonnet runs all to the way to the leading edge of the car. "This accentuates the length of the bonnet and the power of the car," says Fisker. All front cut lines emanate from the grille. The Aston Martin DB9's bumpers are invisible. The front number plate is part of the crash structure and computer modelling has enabled Aston Martin to use invisible 'hard pressure zones' to cope with bumps.
"We wanted the Aston Martin DB9 to look like it was milled out of a single solid piece of aluminium," says Fisker. "No fussy detailing and a minimum of shut lines have helped."
The side strakes - an Aston Martin DB signature - are made from metal. The door handles are flush with the body opening the unique 'swan wing' doors, which rise at a 12-degree angle for improved access.
There are no visible gutters on the roof panel, and no visible drain channels at the front or rear windscreens. Nor are there any plastic 'dressing' plates.
The importance of good stance
"The way the car sits on the road is crucial," says Fisker. "A sleek, long look is what we wanted."
The wide track and long wheelbase are further advantages. Compared with the outgoing Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, the Aston Martin DB9's wheelbase is 149mm longer, yet the track is 52mm wider at the front. Yet overall length and width are only marginally increased.
"The 19-inch wheel has taken into account the optimal size for this car's design and dynamics," says Fisker, "although different wheel styles will be available."
This low bodywork, relative to the wheels, is possible because of the suspension design. The front suspension uses wishbones that 'fit' within the diameter of the wheels. This narrow spacing, between top and bottom wishbones, means the bodywork can be low - because there is no high suspension to clear. It also improves camber stiffness, improving handling.
"The Aston Martin DB9 had to have the best quality and most luxurious cabin in the 2+2 sports car class," says Fisker. As with the exterior, the design is simple and elegant and a premium quality look and feel are crucial.
"The latest technology is also essential, and that's exactly what the Aston Martin DB9 customer gets," says Fisker. "But in an Aston Martin, the technology is aimed at increasing the driving pleasure. There are no computer gimmicks. You don't buy an Aston Martin to play games on the in-car computer, or to send emails." Aluminium is used for door handles, on the dashboard, in the instrument cluster, and for some trim panels. The most distinctive use of aluminium is probably in the instruments. The dials are made from aluminium, and are of noticeable 'three dimensional' design. They are flood lit, not back lit - making them especially attractive and clear at night.
There are 20 new leather colours, supplied by Bridge of Weir in Scotland. The hides are particularly soft and supple. The leather skins the seats and is used widely throughout the rest of the cabin.
"We spent a lot of time considering how best to use wood," says Interior Designer Sarah Maynard. "Today wood is typically used as an appliqué, strips of highly polished veneer simply adding decoration to the car. We wanted the wood in the Aston Martin DB9 to look more structural, as it does on avant-garde modern furniture. We also wanted to use large pieces of wood, rather than little strips - again, as in top furniture."
Maynard adds: 'Wood is used in two places only: on top of the centre of the dashboard and, if the customer chooses, for the door caps. Three types of wood are offered: walnut, mahogany and bamboo. The wood is one piece, so it looks completely different from burr strips, and can be oiled rather than high gloss. Glossy wood invariably looks like plastic."
Maynard, a former fashion designer, attended numerous international fashion, furniture, leather and fabric fairs, as she, Fisker and the design team, conceived the cabin.
Her favourite cabin design feature is the clear glass starter button. "It seemed wrong to us that most car starter buttons - the first point of contact between driver and engine - is a plastic button. We wanted something better so decided on crystal-like glass. The Aston Martin logo is sand etched into it. It's lit red when the ignition is on, and afterwards changes to light blue. I think it's a really cool piece of design."
A great deal of effort has been put into ensuring that the Aston Martin DB9 is stable at high speed and has excellent front-to-rear lift balance. Aerodynamic performance was tuned using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), at Volvo's studios in Sweden. This is one of the most advanced and effective ways of ensuring good drag figures and excellent stability.
Aston Martin also used England's Cranfield University's state-of-the-art 40 percent model wind tunnel, which is widely used for motor sport.
Just as much effort was put into the underside, as the top side. A full undertray reduces lift and drag, and wheel arches are carefully profiled to allow for good airflow. Even the exhaust silencer has been shaped to be as aerodynamic as possible.
The designers of the Aston Martin DB9 balanced beauty with aerodynamic performance. Sharp corners and chiselled profiles can reduce Cd figures, but can also lead to bland and unsightly styling. Pushing wheels out to each corner, in the Aston Martin tradition, improves stability and handling but also means 'Coke bottle' curves down the car's sides, which can have an effect on the Cd figure. The Aston Martin DB9's drag coefficient is 0.35, similar to that of the Aston Martin Vanquish.
"A low Cd figure was not an absolute priority," says Fisker. "The goal was superb styling with high speed stability and great front-to-rear balance."
The Aston Martin engineers' goal was to make a beautiful, distinctive car that was also outstandingly nimble and fast, and a car that was a worthy successor to the Aston Martin DB7 - the best selling Aston Martin in history.
In every case, technology is used to make the car better and to make the driving experience more enjoyable. In most cases, the technology is invisible, always there, always helpful, never intrusive.
In a long list of technological innovations, the most important is the bonded aluminium frame. Aston Martin believes it is the most structurally efficient body frame in the car industry. The new Aston Martin VH (vertical horizontal) aluminium structure gives immense benefits. It is very light, aiding performance, handling, economy and durability. It is also enormously strong. Despite being 25 percent lighter than the Aston Martin DB7 bodyshell, the Aston Martin DB9 structure has more than double the torsional rigidity.
This is the car's backbone, the skeleton to which all the mechanical components are either directly or indirectly mounted. Drawing on the experience and technology pioneered in the Aston Martin Vanquish, the Aston Martin DB9's frame is made entirely from aluminium. Die-cast, extruded and stamped aluminium components are bonded using immensely strong adhesives, supplemented by mechanical fixing using self-piercing rivets.
"It is far superior to the conventional steel saloon-based floorpan often used by high-value brands," says Aston Martin DB9 Chief Programme Engineer David King.
"The torsional rigidity of a car is a key factor in driving enjoyment and good handling. Any flexibility of the body compromises the performance of the suspension, delays vehicle response and corrupts feedback to the driver."
The frame is made in aluminium and the body panels are then fitted, again using adhesives, in the advanced body assembly area at Aston Martin's new Gaydon facility. This adhesive is applied by a robot - the only one at Aston Martin. Computer controlled hot-air curing ensures the highest standards of accuracy and repeatability.
The bonding has enormously high stiffness, so that shakes and rattles are obliterated. Bonding also has excellent durability offering better stress distribution than welding - which is more prone to crack. The process is also used in the aircraft industry and Formula One.
There are also advances in the welding procedure. On the Aston Martin DB9, the upper and lower C-pillars are joined by advanced ultrasonic welding. It works by using a vibrating probe, called a sonotrode, which oscillates at 20,000 Hz. This high frequency of vibration agitates the molecules of the two aluminium panels to be joined, allowing them to form a molecular bond.
Because the bond takes place at a molecular level, it is 90 percent stronger than a conventional spot weld. It also requires only five percent of the energy of conventional welding, and as it generates no heat, there is no contamination or change in the characteristics or dimensions of the metal. Aston Martin is the first car company in the world to use this technique.
In addition to the aluminium frame, other lightweight or high-technology materials are used extensively. The bonnet, roof and rear wings are aluminium. The front wings and bootlid are composite. Cast aluminium is used in the windscreen surround, another industry first. Magnesium alloy, which is even lighter than aluminium, is used in the steering column assembly and inner door frames. The driveshaft is made from carbon fibre. It is part of the torque tube that rigidly connects the front engine to the rear gearbox. This arrangement helps the Aston Martin DB9 achieve perfect 50:50 weight distribution, further improving handling.
The Aston Martin DB9 uses all-round independent double-wishbone suspension. As the body frame is brand new, the chassis designers were able to start from scratch - rather than be forced to develop a suspension for an adapted saloon car platform. The front suspension is mounted on a cast aluminium subframe. At the rear, another subframe carries the rear suspension as well as the rear transaxle. Forged aluminium wishbones are used front and rear, as are aluminium-bodied dampers. This is rare, even on top-end sports and GT cars.
The steering rack is mounted ahead of the front wheels, which provides better control under extreme steering loads and heavy braking. Magnesium alloy is used in the construction of the steering column. Even the wheels have been specially designed to save weight. The 19-inch alloys are made using flow forming rather than casting. This saves about 1kg per wheel, benefiting unsprung mass, overall vehicle weight, and reducing rotational inertia. The tyres have been specially developed by Bridgestone.
On a 180+ mph performance car, superb brakes are essential. The large discs are ventilated and grooved, rather than cross-drilled.
"Grooving is more efficient than cross drilling," says David King. "The pads are kept cleaner and work more effectively. Also, brake pad dust can block cross-drilled discs, which reduces braking performance."
The calipers are made from a single casting, rather than being fabricated in two halves and then bolted together. This increases strength and rigidity and gives superior braking performance at high speeds.
"This project was such a pleasure to work on," comments King. "We really could start from scratch in just about every area which rarely happens in the car business. We were not fighting compromises, such as having to adapt a saloon car component into a sports car."
Braking is improved by Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which is computer controlled to optimise the front-to-rear brake balance, and by Brake Assist - in which the car's electronics detect when the driver wants to emergency brake and automatically applies maximum braking force, cutting stopping distance. There's also the latest anti-lock (ABS) system, which prevents the car skidding or sliding out of control.
LED tail lamps improve rear lighting performance and also react quicker - in braking, for example - than conventional incandescent bulbs. Their design in the Aston Martin DB9 is novel: the tail and brake lamps project through a reflector, which disperses the rays more evenly, further improving lighting performance. This also gets rid of the little 'hot spots' that make up most LED tail lamps. Rather than a series of clearly visible dots, the light is one solid block.
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is standard. DSC is an advanced electronic control system that continually analyses wheel speeds, steering angle and yaw rate. It reduces the risk of skids by automatically applying braking to individual wheels, or reducing engine torque.
The Aston Martin DB9's entire electrical architecture is state-of-the-art, the result of a partnership with fellow Premier Automotive Group member Volvo, which uses multiplex electrical systems in its product range. "It's a high volume but very advanced system, exactly what we wanted," says Aston Martin's Chief Engineer for Electrical and Electronics Sean Morris. "Every module on the car talks to every other module."
The air conditioning and climate control system is one of the most compact and efficient units in production.
The instrument pack is particularly attractive and innovative and all dials are made from aluminium. Microperforations allow the warning lights to illuminate through the aluminium. The rev counter runs anti-clockwise to maximise the visible area for the central electronic display, in the main instrument cluster. It's also a nice reminder of earlier Aston Martin models such as the Atom and the Aston Martin DB2.
There is no conventional red line on the tachometer. A red warning symbol will be displayed when maximum revs are reached but - thanks to the high-tech electronics - the 'red line' varies, depending on the engine's mileage, how recently the engine has been started, and ambient temperature.
The electronic message displays in the main instrument cluster, and in the centre console, are organic electroluminescent displays (OEL). This is another car industry first.
There are many benefits to OELs compared with conventional LCDs, including higher resolution and greater contrast, and improved clarity, particularly when viewed from an angle.
The ICE system is state of the art. It's been developed by Scottish-based Hi Fi experts Linn, and includes its own amplifier and speakers that are specially designed for the Aston Martin DB9. It also benefits from the DB9's high-quality fibre optic electronics, which pass signals with total clarity. The top-of-the-range 950W Linn Hi Fi system uses 10 speakers and a 200W sub-woofer controlled by an in-built accelerometer that even compensates for changes of pressure in the car's interior.
"The goal was to make the finest ICE system of any car in the world," says Sean Morris, "and I think we have succeeded."
Aston Martin wanted to make the Aston Martin DB9 one of the safest sports cars in the world. For this, as with the electrical architecture, Aston Martin's engineers turned to Volvo for assistance.
"Volvo is renowned as the automotive safety leader," says Chief Programme Engineer David King. "It was the perfect partner to assist in delivering the Aston Martin DB9's outstanding safety performance.
"This car was developed in-house, by Aston Martin's small but highly skilled engineering team," says King. "Yet there were some areas where it made sense to draw on the expertise of other members of the Premier Automotive Group.
"Safety is one example. We are very fortunate to have Volvo as a partner. This partnership has given us access to the latest safety technologies, best-practice design guidelines and advanced computer aided engineering."
All crash testing was done by Volvo in its state-of-the-art safety centre in Sweden. The VH platform was designed to provide a supremely robust passenger cell that cocoons its occupants. The cell is protected at the front and rear by extruded aluminium crumple zones. Dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, and seat-mounted side airbags, offer further protection, as do seat belt pretensioners.
"When you're attempting to build the world's greatest 2+2 sports car - and that's certainly the goal for the Aston Martin DB9 - there really is no substitute for a V12," says Aston Martin's Chief Powertrain Engineer Brian Fitzsimons. "Aston Martin's V12 is acknowledged as one of the best in the world, so was a very good starting point."
The engine is developed from the V12 used in the Vanquish. The advanced quad-cam 48-valve engine has been designed by Aston Martin engineers in partnership with Ford's RVT (Research and Vehicle Technology), and is unique to Aston Martin.
The crankshaft is new, as are the camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, the lubrication system and engine management. The result is more low-down torque and a more seamless power delivery. Maximum power is 450bhp and maximum torque 420lb ft. Even more impressive, 80 percent of that maximum torque is available at only 1500rpm.
"This car will overtake in any gear, at any revs, more or less any time. It really is that good," says Fitzsimons.
Comparing the Vanquish's engine to that of the Aston Martin DB9, Fitzsimons comments: "The Vanquish offers more ultimate performance, the Aston Martin DB9 has more torque over a wider rev range," says Fitzsimons.
In the Aston Martin DB9, the V12 - which is a significant 11.8kgs (26lb) lighter than the Vanquish V12 - has been fitted as far back and as low as possible, to assist agility and handling. This helps the Aston Martin DB9 achieve its perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
Engine note is also very important to the driving experience. "The Aston V12 engine has been described as having the best sound in the world," says Brian Fitzsimons. "We spent a great deal of time getting the 'music' of the Aston Martin DB9 just right."
The Aston Martin DB9 is fitted with a rear transaxle to help achieve the ideal 50:50 weight distribution. The front mid-mounted engine is connected to the rear gearbox by a cast aluminium torque tube, inside which is a carbon fibre drive shaft. The use of carbon fibre prevents any flex and ensures low rotational inertia, improving response and cutting both noise and vibration.
Two transmissions are offered: a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox and a new six-speed Graziano manual gearbox. The ZF automatic used in the Aston Martin DB9 is particularly innovative. The DB9 is one of the first cars in the world to use a shift-by-wire automatic gearchange. The conventional PRNDL gear lever has been replaced by a system of buttons that select park, reverse, drive or neutral.
"It's easy to use and gets rid of the clutter associated with the automatic gear lever on the centre console," says David King.
Those choosing the ZF automatic can drive the car in full auto mode, or can change gear manually using the paddle shifts. The paddles are made from lightweight magnesium and are directly behind the steering wheel, at the ten-to-two position. They allow instant Touchtronic gearchanging.
A great deal of time has been spent ensuring that the new Graziano manual gearbox has a smooth and fast shift action. "It is one of the best manual gearchanges in the world," says Chief Programme Engineer David King. "Driving enjoyment is a very important quality of the Aston Martin DB9, and part of this is a superb gear change action."
The manual uses a twin-plate clutch, compared with the DB7 Vantage's single plate unit. It is more compact, has lower rotational inertia and is more robust. The clutch effort is also reduced.
The 'swan wing' doors are unique and will become one of the car's trademarks. They open out and up (by 12 degrees) making for easier access, especially for the driver's feet into the footwell. This also improves clearance for the driver's (or passenger's) head between side glass and roof, further easing access. The 12-degree angle also means there is less chance of the doors scuffing high pavements. As they are angled, the doors are easier to close: they shut partly under their own weight, rather than relying on the driver having to slam them. Beyond 20 degrees opening angle, there is also infinite door checking. This means that the door will stop and hold at whatever position the driver (or passenger) chooses.
The door handles feature LEDs that illuminate when the car is unlocked, allowing the handles to be located easily in the dark. The exterior handles lie flush with the door, to improve appearance and aerodynamics.
The Aston Martin DB9 has enjoyed the most thorough testing programme of any new Aston Martin model. Ninety-three prototypes were built and tested in locations as diverse as Nardo in Italy, Death Valley in the USA, and inside the Arctic Circle in Sweden, as well as in laboratories around the world.
As well as using the Cranfield University's state-of-the-art 40 percent model wind tunnel, Aston Martin also used Ford's Environmental Test Laboratory in Dunton, which features one of the most advanced climactic wind tunnels in the world.
Other testing took place at Volvo's world-renowned crash test safety centre in Sweden, and at the vast and superbly equipped Ford test track in Lommel, Belgium.
"Producing the Aston Martin DB9 in small volumes allows us to retain our handcrafting skills," says Aston Martin Product Development Director Jeremy Main. "It also allows us to use bespoke engineering solutions, such as the bonded aluminium structure and the aluminium instrument pack and the Linn ICE system. You just can't do this in mass production.
"The problem with small volumes, though, is that you typically have to use other manufacturers' components, and that usually compromises your car. But there are technologies that need high volume processes - ABS and electrical architecture for example - and we are lucky to be able to choose the best available components and then modify and adjust them to suit our needs.
"We've been fortunate in not having to compromise. Higher volume systems that we are using - such as the electrics and air conditioning - have actually made the car better. "There has probably never been a 2+2 sports car that started with fewer compromises. The result is that the Aston Martin DB9 is a pure, beautifully honed sports machine."
Says Dr Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin: "We're confident that it is the finest 2+2 sports car in the world, and will continue the Aston Martin success story that is one of the highlights of the British motor industry in recent years."
Aston Martin has revealed full details of the latest major enhancements to its iconic Sports GT car, the luxurious and potent DB9.
Appearing hot on the heels of the all-new Vanquish Super GT, the introduction of 13 Model Year Aston Martin DB9 gives the British luxury sports car maker the perfect opportunity to further enrich the appeal of its mainstay in the GT sector, with significant developments affecting styling inside and out, plus key changes under the new DB9's classically beautiful 'skin'.
The styling changes see Aston Martin DB9 adopt an even more lithe, fluid and pure form reminiscent of the outgoing Aston Martin Virage which ceases production with immediate effect. Taking a classic Aston Martin GT silhouette as its base, the new DB9 adds a more pronounced rear boot 'flip' to further enhance the aerodynamic performance of the car.
The exterior design of the DB9 communicates a powerfully assertive yet elegant character. The surfaces display taught lines and subtle muscular forms that point to the underlying power of this renowned Sports GT.
Aston Martin DB9 sits low and wide, visually 'planting' the car on the road, communicating a clearly athletic stance. The car's inherent width is accentuated by the 'light catcher' feature which runs from the lower front bumper and continues along the sill of the car creating a chiselled, determined look.
Available from launch in either Coupe or Volante body styles, DB9 13MY clearly has a strong breadth of appeal.
Bi-xenon headlamps provide the car with a clear focus, while subtle feature lines run along and underneath the headlamps, visually widening the car.
A large lower front grille feeds air into the standard Carbon Ceramic Braking system, while the front splitter also serves to visually widen the car. For those DB9 buyers in search of an even more sporty appearance there is now a carbon fibre front splitter available as part of the exterior Carbon Pack.
Look a little closer and the true beauty of the Aston Martin DB9's details becomes apparent. The front grille, for instance - inspired by the design of Aston Martin's sold-out One-77 hypercar - features five horizontal vanes which are chamfered to create an aerofoil profile. Meanwhile the bonnet vents are authentic zinc with distinctive vanes. These, along with the new grille and pronounced side strakes, are classic Aston Martin design cues.
Aston Martin DB9 13MY also features Aston Martin's integrated side strake and LED side-repeaters. The long strake accentuates the lean, long lines of the DB9's nose. Once again, Aston Martin's craftsmanship is clearly demonstrated in the use of metal grilles and clean lines of the polished metal castings.
At the rear of the car, the Aston Martin DB9's wide track width and muscular rear haunches clearly communicate the power delivered at the rear wheels.
Inside, as out, the revised DB9 becomes yet more elegant and more luxurious. Unmistakably Aston Martin, the Sports GT's opulently-appointed interior boasts authentic materials and the highest levels of attention to detail.
For instance, Aston Martin DB9 13MY comes with a stunning leather welt feature first seen on Virage. Inspired by luxury leather goods, the welts have been designed and developed by Aston Martin's master craftsmen. Requiring meticulous levels of control to hand stitch and specially-developed manufacturing facilities, the welts are created by sandwiching a narrow strip of leather between two opposing leather seat panels, and fixed using precise stitching.
A further demonstration of Aston Martin's renowned attention to detail and craftsmanship can be seen in the jewel-like glass switchgear used throughout the interior of the revised DB9. Details such as these glass switches clearly demonstrate the luxury sports car maker's commitment to the use of authentic, high value materials.
Those DB9 buyers seeking an even more sporting ambience inside might be tempted by an additional interior option on 2013 Aston Martin DB9 - Aston Martin's lightweight seats. These are available when the 2+0 seating option is selected and use a state-of-the-art carbon fibre and Kevlar® composite structure.
When specified, the seats save 17kg per car as well as offering occupants more support at the shoulders. This improves comfort and reduces stress on the back during long stints of focused dynamic driving in particular.
Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer Dr Ulrich Bez said: "I am very excited to be unveiling the new DB9 now. My team here at Gaydon has been working hard for many months to improve and update key aspects of this superb Sports GT - the mainstay of our sports car range - and I believe the results to be exceptional.
"Aside from the undeniably beautiful exterior styling and now even more luxurious interior, there are many important and impressive engineering changes that demonstrate Aston Martin's renowned ability to create compelling cars in the modern era."
Engineering - great British innovation
This Aston Martin DB9 sees the introduction of the new generation AM11 V12 engine. The new V12 takes some of the 'Gen4' VH architecture hardware technology developed for Aston Martin's forthcoming all-new super GT, the Vanquish, but has been tuned to suit the character of DB9. The result is an engine with effortless torque of up to 620 Nm and peak power of 517 PS - both significantly improved versus the outgoing unit.
Key features of the AM11 unit include a revised block and new head including dual variable valve timing, enlarged throttle bodies, uprated fuel pump, revised intake manifold and machined combustion chambers.
Meanwhile, DB9 13MY achieves compliance with the latest European pedestrian protection regulations and does so in a new way that is without any compromise to the exterior design of the car and does without the need for otherwise surplus deployable systems.
To accomplish this, Aston Martin's designers and engineers have worked together to make significant changes to the underbody structure of the car including a lowered engine, new bonnet, front bumper construction and grille surround moulding.
Their resulting design is the subject of patent pending applications and enables the grille to move rearwards on impact, whilst the central and outboard chin stiffeners give rigidity to the lower structure and support achievement of the leg impact regulations. Cut-outs on the front wing catwalks contribute to the achievement of the headform regulation.
This means Aston Martin is able to avoid conventional solutions such as the use of plastic grilles and straightforward nose cone bumpers that stretch up in front of the bonnet. Instead, it has created a clever new and bespoke solution that preserves the unmistakable visual appeal of the VH architecture leading edge bonnet and its extruded aluminium grille.
Dr Bez said: "The new AM11 V12 engine together with our unique and patent pending solution for enhanced pedestrian protection - these are clear examples of the engineering excellence that continues to make Aston Martin the creator of the most desired and admired luxury sports cars in the world."
Chassis - important upgrades all round
The 2013 Aston Martin DB9 boasts a number of important enhancements over the outgoing car's already impressive inventory. The braking system, for instance, now uses as standard Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) discs and calipers supplied by acknowledged global brake experts Brembo.
While this DB9 offers a refined, comfortable sports GT drive experience, the new carbon brakes provide the confidence and reassurance of reduced brake fade when pressing the car to its sports capability.
CCM consists of a compound of carbon fibre which is impregnated with silicon, injected into a mould and baked at ultra-high temperature. The resulting material is not only much tougher than conventional cast iron discs but also dissipates heat more rapidly to provide reduced fading.
The brake rotors, (398mm diameter at the front, 360mm at the rear), are mounted onto the bespoke disc bells using a 'floating disc' system. This allows the discs to flex relative to their mountings thereby making them less prone to 'judder'.
The discs are cross-drilled to help keep the brake pads clean while also helping to ensure that gases emitted by the pads during braking do not build up between the pad and disc surface. The holes also help to cool the surface of the pads and the discs themselves. Air intakes mounted behind the lower front grille also force feed air into the brake discs to aid cooling.
Saving around 12.5 kg versus a conventional cast iron system the Aston Martin DB9's CCM brakes not only reduce overall vehicle weight but also mean that a better balance between ride comfort and handling can be struck. The lower rotational mass also gives improved acceleration, braking and steering feel.
The luxury sports car also boasts Aston Martin's 'Gen4' VH architecture version of the brand's Adaptive Damping System (ADS). This next generation ADS has been enhanced to include three modes: Normal, Sport and Track.
In 'Normal' mode, the damping is set to deliver the greatest ride comfort, with the electronically controlled dampers automatically adjusting to provide the optimum settings to suit driver input, speed and the road surface quality. In 'Sport' mode, the damping is set-up to be more focused at delivering sharper handling and control during dynamic driving while in the 'Track' mode the damping operates within the range of its stiffest settings.
The different damping modes available help appreciably broaden DB9's character, adapting its set-up to suit the driver's requirements in different contexts. It can be a comfortable and compliant GT car in Normal mode as well as being a firm and direct sports car in Sport setting and offering highly precise flat cornering in Track mode.
Equipment - luxury comes as standard
As befits a luxury GT in this class 2013 DB9 of course features convenience items such as automatic headlights, now operated by a new master switch unit control panel located on the lower instrument panel beneath the driver's side air-vent.
Automatic windscreen wipers are also a standard-fit feature, with their operation triggered by a rain sensor built into the header pod in front of the rear-view mirror.
Arch-filling 20-inch alloys wheels in a variety of designs, full-grain leather interior, leather sports steering wheel, electrically adjustable Sports seats with side airbags, memory seats and exterior mirrors, satellite navigation, automatic temperature control, trip computer and Organic Electroluminescent (OEL) displays - the DB9 13MY's list of standard equipment is suitably generous while buyers keen to further enhance the luxury look and feel of their Aston Martin sports car can select from an extensive range of optional equipment features.
Aston Martin DB9 13MY features the optional reversing camera currently available on the Rapide four-door sports car and forthcoming Vanquish super GT. The camera - standard in the US market - is integrated into the rear boot lid above the number plate, with the image visible on the LCD screen folding out of the centre stack. The reversing camera is activated when reverse gear is selected and is deactivated once the car is driving forwards at more than 5 mph.
Meanwhile there are two Carbon Packs introduced on DB9 13MY - one exterior and one interior - to offer further personalisation possibilities. All of the carbon fibre has a 2 x 2 twill design that is finished with a clear lacquer.
The exterior pack comprises carbon fibre front splitter and rear diffuser, carbon fibre mirror arms and caps and dark tailpipes with a graphitic finish. The interior pack offers a carbon fibre upper facia, carbon fibre gear selector paddles and carbon fibre door pulls.
Buyers can opt for either Aston Martin wings or DB9 headrest embroidery. The DB9 embroidery design has been refreshed and also has a new stitch pattern on 13MY cars.
Finally, a leather headlining is now available as an option on Aston Martin DB9. The large central panel of the headlining can be finished in leather, while the cant rail trim and header trim remain Alcantara-coloured.
Summarising the significantly enhanced appeal of the 2013 DB9, product manager Andy Haslam said: "DB9 has, rightly, been positioned at the hub of our GT segment offerings for some years now.
"The introduction of this significantly enhanced 13MY car means Aston Martin buyers have a very clear and compelling model line-up from which to choose.
"Taking the best elements of Virage, adding important new upgrades and combining these with the iconic DB9 nomenclature we have created a compelling new Sports GT that sits proudly at the very heart of the Aston Martin sports car range.
"With the exceptional new Vanquish super GT occupying the top of the range, there is now a clear and logical step from DB9."
Aston Martin DB9 13MY is available to order now through Aston Martin dealers worldwide, with the first cars making their market debuts in UK and Western Europe in October. Prices are confirmed as £131,995 (UK RRP); €174,994 (German RRP); $185,400 (USA MSRP); and 21,995,000 JPY (Japan RRP).
|2004 - 2012|
|2004 - 2012|
|2006 - 2008|
|2013 - 2016|
|Spyder Zagato Centennial|
|2013 - 2016|
|2014 - 2015|
|2015 - 2016|
|GT Bond Edition|
|2015 - 2016|
|GT Coupe ‘Last of the 9’|
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|Year||Engine code||Fuel||[ccm]||Cylinders||[kW]||[Nm]||No. of
|2004||2012||AM04||gasoline||5 935||12 / Furcate||335 kW||570 Nm||48|
|2008||2012||AM09||gasoline||5 935||12 / Furcate||350 kW||600 Nm||48|
|2013||2016||Coupe (Gen4)||AM11 C||gasoline||5 935||12 / Furcate||380 kW||620 Nm||48|
20K Mile Service MCL Motorcars, Vancouver, Canada 20,000 mi service Mobil 1 0W40 cabin air filter engine air filter RF marker bulb RR marker bulb
|Aston Martin DB9||Coupe (Gen1)|
|Spyder Zagato Centennial|
|GT Bond Edition|
|GT Coupe ‘Last of the 9’|