Induction. Compression. Ignition. Combustion. Exhaust. In most cars, this explosive reaction between fuel, oxygen and electricity is anaesthetised into something spiritless and mundane.
The Aston Martin DBS 770 Ultimate doesn’t do mundane.
Its 5.2-litre V12 is one of the most exhilarating, awe-inspiring engines ever unleashed onto the road.
The 770 Ultimate is described as an ‘emphatic last word’ for the DBS – Aston Martin’s answer to the Bentley Continental GT Speed and Ferrari 812 Superfast – after five years in production.
A total of 300 coupes and 199 Volante convertibles will be built, with the entire run sold out in advance.
End of an era
So, why does it matter? Well, partly because the DBS 770 Ultimate marks the end of an era, as possibly the last Aston Martin (apart from the Valkyrie hypercar) with a V12 engine. And also because the way it drives bodes brilliantly for the DB11’s replacement, which arrives this summer.
We’ll get to driving shortly, but first let’s delve into the details. Thanks to more boost from its twin turbochargers, the Ultimate musters a mighty 770hp – up from 725hp in the ‘standard’ DBS, and sufficient for 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds (3.4 in the Volante) and a top speed of 211mph. Maximum torque remains at 664lb ft, mainly to protect the quicker-shifting eight-speed automatic ’box.
There’s also a plethora of carefully chosen dynamic tweaks. The existing springs are carried over, but the adaptive dampers have been retuned, while a beefed-up front crossmember and stronger undertray improve lateral stiffness.
“We didn’t want to create a hot rod,” explains Simon Newton, Aston Martin’s head of vehicle integration. “Much of the development was done on British B-roads. If we can make a car work here, it will work anywhere.”
Rumble and roar
Some of those same roads, close to Aston Martin HQ in Gaydon, will form part of my route today. I rendez-vous with Newton in Broadway, a chocolate-box village nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds. With its hungry ‘horseshoe’ bonnet vent and spidery, Victor-inspired alloy wheels, the rumbling black Aston feels like an ominous presence here – yet it’s also as British as a cream tea. The tourists seem to approve.
That rumble swells to a roar once I escape the 30mph zone, click the paddle into second gear and 770 horses stampede towards the rear wheels. The big-lunged V12 feels omnipotent, shrugging off the more menial aspects of driving, but ever-ready to hurl itself at the horizon with staggering ferocity. Its sheer breadth of ability is almost unmatched.
Such an engine finds a fitting foil in the chassis, which is more energised and alert, without sacrificing the long-striding comfort expected of a GT. The 770 Ultmate has immense traction, keeping its composure over mid-corner bumps where the original DBS might have floundered. A new, solidly mounted steering column delivers more direct and nuanced feedback, too.
Despite its prodigious power, the Aston quickly builds your confidence. It rolls up its sleeves and works with you.
Downsides? Apart from the fact you can’t buy one, it’s really the interior, which falls short of the Bentley for quality and is lumbered with an archaic Mercedes-Benz media system. You can’t connect your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto either. Expect the imminent new car (likely to be named DB12) to up its game significantly here.
Still, as the road unravels like a ribbon and the V12 smothers my senses, the last thing on my mind is infotainment. More than ever, driving a car like this feels like a privilege, an experience to be savoured while we can. Frankly, I can’t imagine an electric supercar ever feeling this visceral and emotive. Whatever comes next, the DBS 770 Ultimate has earned its place among the Aston Martin greats.