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Aging Race-fully

Aston Martin's familiar DB9 gets a fast and fashionable makeover.

Maybe it was the news of the recent rebound in the housing market, but something had me thinking real estate when a stunning example of the new 2013 Aston Martin DB9 rumbled into my driveway for a recent weekend stay. Much like an eager homebuyer, I walked away from my time in this svelte grand touring car savoring two distinct selling points: curb appeal and good bones.

Of course, these terms are typically applied to older homes (the proverbial “fixer-uppers”), and maybe that is the real reason for my association. The DB9 is entering its ninth year of production. This feels like a shockingly long time. However, it is consistent with recent Aston Martin history, as its predecessor, the DB7, enjoyed a decade-long lifespan. And although the DB9’s reign has included two previous refreshes (in 2008 and 2011), the result of this most recent redo is a car that initially appears, well, quite similar to all previous DB9s (not that that’s a bad thing).

Likely anticipating the skeptic’s barbs about age and familiarity, Aston Martin proudly touts the newness of “50% of all parts and more than 70% of all body panels” on the 2013 DB9. To which we reply: Reee-lax, Aston. The DB9 still looks phenomenal, which is no surprise. Perhaps more important – and a bit unexpected – is that it actually drives like an all-new iteration of the DB9.  

Essentially, Aston Martin took the DB9’s good bones and made them even greater. The lightweight aluminum core is now 30% more rigid. New carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser and trunk lid also save weight and increase down force. The 6.0-liter V12 under the hood has been upgraded to 510 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to rocket this nearly two-ton coupe from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. Throw in a reengineered adaptive suspension system with normal, sport and track settings; a slightly lower center of gravity; and a nearly dead-even 51:49 front-to-rear weight distribution and you have by far the sportiest DB9 ever.

This impressive combination of stiffness, power, and dynamics is available, literally, at the push of a button. Made of jewel-like glass (a very nice touch found in all the push-button switchgear), the DB9’s sport button is a one-touch ticket to stiffer suspension, tighter steering, sharper throttle response, quicker gear shifts, and a more bellowing exhaust note. In others words: fun, fun, fun. As usual, Aston doesn’t skimp on interior materials. Buttery soft (and wonderfully fragrant!) hides are woven together with varying stitch patterns and contrasting piping. Pity similar attention was not paid to the woefully dated center stack and infotainment system.

In a sense, the new DB9 has inherited all the finest qualities of Aston’s previous range-topper, the more hardcore DBS (itself recently replaced by the lighter, faster, sleeker, and pricier Vanquish). With a base price of $185,400, the DB9 isn’t cheap. But with curb appeal and good bones galore, this baby still seems priced to move.

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