Behold the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: A 715-HP, 211-MPH Piece of British Supercar Magic

Take the DB11, strip it down to its bones, dress it up in carbon fiber and crank up the V12’s power, and you’ve got one hell of a super-GT.

byWill Sabel Courtney|

Every few years, the performance-minded mad scientists at Aston Martin set about transforming the company's standard-issue 12-cylinder gran turismo into something a little more...extreme. The names may change—more on that in a second—but the theme remains the same: take a front-engined GT that's been around for a couple years, give it more aggressive styling, crank up the power, and release it upon the world. A few years after the DB7 switched over to V12 power, Aston's engineers took its bones and built the beefy V12 Vanquish around them. Come 2004, the DB9 replaced the DB7; three years later, Aston transformed it into the brutally sexy DBS. That car stuck around until 2012, when Aston went back to the drawing board and created a second supercar from the DB9's platform: the second-generation Vanquish, boasting a sleeker-but-still-combative carbon fiber body. 

Then in 2016, Aston Martin replaced the now-aged DB9 with the all-new DB11. While the British carmaker has since seen fit to add in a variety of new variants since then—a V8 coupe and convertible, a racier DB11 AMR specification—none of these have filled the hole in the sport car company's lineup that can only be satisfied by a front-engined supercar. 

Well, that changes as of now. Meet the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

Yes, you read that right: DBS. Which means Aston Martin's front engine V12 supercar portfolio has taken on a nice little naming rhythm: Vanquish, DBS, Vanquish, DBS. This time, though, the carmaker appended those familiar three letters with an Italian word signifying the weight savings over the DB11: "Superleggera," as Lamborghini fans know, translates to "super light." That might be a bit of an exaggeration in absolute terms, as the new Aston weighs in at about 3,700 pounds before any fluids are poured inside—but that's still around 400 pounds lighter than the plusher car it's based upon. 

While the name may have changed, the song remains the same: Take the existing car, make it wider and angrier, and dial up the power. In the case of the DBS Superleggera, the twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12's dials have been cranked all the way to 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, increases of 85 hp and 148 lb-ft over the new AMR model that recently became the sole V12-powered member of the DB11 range. That power makes its way through an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and a mechanical limited slip differential before hitting the road through the 21-inch rear wheels, which come shrink-wrapped in 305-series Pirelli rubber customized for the car.   

Further benefiting performance are a plentiful selection of carbon fiber body panels, including the hood, decklid, front splitter, and rear diffuser. Those new panels aren't just lighter; they've been engineered to help pump up the car's aerodynamics, with the front end pushing air below the car and the side strakes sucking lift-inducing pressure from the wheel wells. Instead of a traditional rear spoiler, the DBS Superleggera scores a revised version of the Aston Martin "Aeroblade" system that redirects windflow to simulate a wing; that setup helps this supercar deliver up to 397 pounds of downforce.

Thanks to the added power, the lightweight body parts, and the other tweaks and adjustments made by the gang from Gaydon, the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera can zip from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 3.4 seconds, according to the carmaker, and blast from a dead stop to 100 mph in just 6.4. Passing should be a breeze, thanks to a quoted fourth-gear 50-75 mph time of two seconds flat. And should you find a road clear enough and stay on the gas long enough, Aston Martin says the DBS Superleggera will finally hit Vmax at a top speed of 211 mph. 

But while the numbers and exterior styling clearly establish the new DBS as a supercar, it's still an Aston Martin—and not the rip-roaring hypercar type like the Valkyrie and the Vulcan, where owners happily forgo in-car luxury for on-track performance. So as you'd expect, the tight interior is lined six ways from Sunday with high-end materials: fancy leather, soft Alcantara, and of course, more carbon fiber, much of it chopped-up and repressed into a sort of paper mache version of the lightweight substance car enthusiasts know and love. 360-degree parking cameras, satellite radio, and Aston's version of the Mercedes-Benz Comand infotainment system are all standard, as is in-car wi-fi, incongruous as it might seem in a 700-plus-horsepower supercar. 

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is scheduled to hit the streets here in the United States near the end of 2018, with a starting price of $304,995. (Expect that number to rise fast if you have fun with the extensive options list, which includes everything from a Bang & Olufsen sound system to a titanium exhaust to five additional wheel designs; there's also a choice of "Caithness or Balmoral leather," should you prefer your cowhide to sound like a type of single-malt scotch.) If you want one, though, you'll probably need to be a quick draw on the phone. During a sneak preview held at The Drive's Brooklyn office, an Aston Martin spokesperson told us while the car isn't a limited-production run per se, the company can only make so many due to production constraints (it is a small independent carmaker, after all), and early demand among potential owners has been, shall we say, extremely enthusiastic.

Behind the Scenes with the All-New Aston Martin DBS Superleggera at The Drive's Garage: