LOS ANGELES - Aston Martin has done a complete redesign of its DB model, which doesn't happen too often. The 2017 DB11 is replacing the DB9, which had been around since 2004.
The new DB11 is a "clean-sheet" car, and Aston Martin's designers have to walk a fine line between heritage and the future. The DB11 is a head-turner from pretty much every angle, and it wears the famous Aston Martin grill.
Under the hood, a 600 horsepower V12 engine sings a wonderful tune through its exhaust pipes, and the interior is a special place to be for a short trip or a long one. The tradition of hand crafting meets the technology of today, with supple leather joined by things like an all-around camera system displayed on the center LCD screen.
Another Aston Martin tradition carries through, too: the lofty price. The sticker for the DB11 starts at $211,995, and the stunning "Fiamma Red" example I got to try had some options that sent the bottom line to $221,620.
No wonder these exclusive British cars are a favorite ride of royalty, music stars, and well-paid athletes.
But even though Aston Martin has great brand recognition (helped no doubt by the association with the James Bond 007 franchise), it's actually a very small company in the auto industry. And with that comes the challenge of developing engines and propulsion systems for the future.
That's why Aston Martin recently made it official: the AMG division of Mercedes-Benz will be supplying engines to them, starting with a turbocharged 4.0 liter V8 as a second power choice in the DB11.
Aston Martin will do its own specific tuning, and install the engines at its factory in Gaydon, England. It's a way to partner up for the future and offer strong performance without the extensive development costs of building an engine from scratch.
Speaking of the future, like other car makers, Aston Martin is studying electrification. The RapidE concept car is a hint at what a pure electric Aston might be like. Realistically, a plug-in car would be a long way down the road, given Aston Martin's small sales numbers and exclusivity.