Aston Martin DBS Superleggera (2020) Quick Review


What can you learn from spending one day with Aston Martin’s quintessential super GT offering? Gero Lilleike seems to believe much can be learnt from such an experience, so we set him the arduous task of reporting back from his one-day-stand with the DBS Superleggera...

To say that my year got off to a good start is an understatement, especially when you consider that my first evaluation drive for was in this: Aston Martin’s flagship, the DBS Superleggera, or as I like to refer to it, the SuperleGero... 

I remember when my esteemed colleague, Ciro De Siena, was invited by Aston Martin to drive the DBS Superleggera in the picturesque town of Berchtesgaden in the German Alps back in 2018. I was so jealous!

Now, almost 2 years later, the DBS Superleggera is on sale in South Africa and with a (starting) price tag of R5 649 000, this is by far the most expensive car that I’ve ever piloted, and perhaps even the fastest. More than that though, this is also the first time that I would drive an Aston Martin! Talk about a baptism by fire.

The full experience

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera features purposeful and muscular styling which hints at its performance ability.  

The huge gaping grille, bespoke 21-inch wheels and muscular rear haunches of the DBS Superleggera communicate serious performance intent and that first impression alone is enough to make your palms sweat before you even climb behind the Aston's 'wheel. Admittedly, I don’t think the Midnight Blue hue does the bodywork much justice as it diminishes the impact of the lines and bulges. Either way, this is an incredibly sexy car in the metal; a real head-turner...

Having ensconced myself in the leather-rich and driver-centric cockpit, I took a moment to familiarise myself with all the exotic switchgear. It took me a few seconds to realise that there’s no transmission lever and the push-start button and other drive functions such as drive, reverse, park and neutral all have their own buttons and are uniquely located across the centre of the fascia. For a while, I sat in silence and soaked it all in.  

The headliner is finished in lavish Alcantara and while the leatherwork exudes an air of premium quality, the interior is not as striking as the quilted leather finish that's available for the DBS Superleggera (watch the video below to see what I mean). Somehow the interior has an old-school feel to it and perhaps that has something to do with the number of buttons and control layout in the centre fascia. The digital instrument binnacle, however, looks modern yet simple and I particularly liked the meaty feel of the flat-bottomed steering wheel in my hands. As for the infotainment system, I never used it as all my attention was focused on driving and enjoying the DBS Superleggera. 

Where the magic happens...

Then the moment came. I pushed the start button and all hell broke loose as the DBS Superleggera’s soulful 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine barked and cracked to life. At that moment, my heart skipped a beat. It sounds heavenly!

I engaged Sport mode using the button on the steering wheel and pointed the DBS Superleggera down an empty stretch of road and, when road conditions permitted, planted the accelerator pedal to the floor. With 534 kW and a humongous 900 Nm on tap from that V12 reactor, Aston Martin sought the expertise from ZF to produce an 8-speed transmission specifically for the DBS Superleggera to withstand all that torque, particularly in 1st and 2nd gears. 

At full tilt, the revs hit the limiter quickly, but once you actuate quick, snappy shifts using the long column-mounted shift paddles, the full might of the powerplant is unleashed. The engine positively wails when pushing on and from 2nd to 3rd, all the available torque comes on song. Acceleration is blisteringly quick from there on out and the DBS Superleggera just keeps piling on the pace at an astonishing rate. The steering is light and feathery to wield but feedback is direct and positive, as you would come to expect from a car of this calibre.   

The DBS Superleggera's rear-end likes to step out on occasion...

Sadly, we have to take Aston Martin's word that the DBS Superleggera will reach a top speed of 340 kph, but I can attest to the claimed 0-100 kph sprint time of 3.4 seconds as it really did feel frightfully fast, but that might have something to do with the fact I recently spent a few weeks driving the Suzuki Ciaz, which is a much more sedate and utilitarian offering. The coupe's rear can be quite twitchy; you'd need to have your wits about you if the back-end lets go, which happens quite easily...

Despite its hugely impressive engine output, the DBS Superleggera is a grand tourer after all (albeit a very powerful one) and while the ride has some firmness to it (the suspension can be firmed-up even more by toggling the suspension settings on the steering wheel), it’s supple enough for everyday driving and that’s important. 

It’s true prowess, however, lies in its tar-munching ability and one does get the distinct sense that this is a car that yearns to be driven (at spirited speeds) over longer distances. In fact, the longer the road, the better. We were limited to a 200-km evaluation, but I can only dream of taking the DBS Superleggera on a long-distance haul. Had I been extended THAT opportunity, well, I may very well have disappeared, never to be seen again...

Watch Ciro De Siena drive the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera in Germany in the video below!

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