Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
by Tom Barnard
Aston's DB9 Shows Its Class
Back in 1993, Aston Martin sold 43 cars and was kept afloat only because of some incredibly loyal enthusiasts. By 2006, the firm will produce 5,000 units, have three models and be attracting buyers away from legendary marques such as Ferrari and Porsche.
And this is the car which will usher in the new era - the DB9. Set to be unveiled at next week's Frankfurt Motor Show, the coupé is the replacement for the DB7, acknowledged as the car which saved Aston and became the fastest-selling model in the company's history. But while the DB7 was criticised for its antiquated technology and poor dynamics, the new model will be at the cutting edge of automotive design and won't make any compromises.
In fact, the firm thinks it represents such an advance that it skipped the name DB8 and went one better! Look beneath the all-new bodywork, which has a sleek style set to feature on all future Astons, and the DB9 uses an aluminium 'backbone', similar in concept to the Lotus Elise's innovative chassis. Engineers say this structure is 25 per cent lighter than a conventional steel bodyshell, and yet is twice as strong. This frame will also be shortened and used in the smaller, Porsche 911-rivalling V8 Vantage due in 2005.
The technology certainly makes the DB9 light - it weighs only 1,710kg compared to the 2,385kg of Bentley's Continental GT. Mate the featherweight shell to a revised 450bhp version of the DB7's 6.0-litre V12 engine and the result is a 0-60mph time of less than five seconds and a 186mph top speed. It's rumoured that the engine's power was deliberately capped to avoid treading on the toes of the Aston's more expensive flagship, the Vanquish.
Aston Martin says the DB9 is intended to be a Grand Tourer more than a track-bred supercar. "The DB9 is a GT, a car you hop into for the weekend for a jaunt across Europe," said Jeremy Main, director of product development. To emphasise this, it will be available with a conventional manual or fully auto- matic gearbox. The Vanquish's controversial F1-style clutchless manual transmission will not be offered, although the six-speed auto will have paddle-shifts behind the steering wheel.
Unusually, the whole gearbox unit is mounted behind the driver to help balance the car's weight and achieve perfect 50:50 weight distribution to improve handling. It's not just the gearbox which sits in the back of the DB9 either, as the car will be the only Aston with the ability to carry four passengers. The two small rear seats are best considered as suitable for children only, though.
Inside, the DB9 looks far more exclusive than the 7 or Vanquish. Aluminium features heavily, mixed with leather and sophisticated electronic displays. But all these improvements have come at a price, with a 10 per cent increase over the DB7 likely. The coupé goes on sale in the spring and will start at around Ł107,000, while the convertible, due in autumn 2004, will cost from Ł111,000.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....