Warwickshire, England — I’m driving an all-new 2016 Aston Martin DB9 GT through a picturesque county in England, and I’m hating life. England, it turns out, is an absolutely abhorrent place to drive. Aside from driving on the wrong side of the road, which is easy enough to adapt to, the streets in big cities are ridiculously congested, and the roads in little villages are ridiculously constricted. Country roads are clogged with slow-moving Ford Kas; the highways are littered with speed cameras and signs cluttered with incomprehensible verbiage. It’s no place to test a more powerful DB9.
I do what I can with the DB9 GT’s 5.9-liter V-12, which now produces 540 hp, an increase of 30 hp over the regular DB9. Whenever I think I have the chance to go flat-out, a small town springs up out of nowhere, the road tapers in, and a brightly painted truck gets disturbingly close to the Aston’s wide fenders.
I feel better if I turn my focus on where I’m sitting. Aston Martin cabins tend to be an odd combination of a fine leather tannery and discount electronics, but the DB9 GT rids itself of the cheap tech clutter and gets the clean, touch-sensitive infotainment system from the Vanquish. It has a Garmin-powered navigation system and luscious leather, most of it chocolate brown with caramel piping, covers everything from the perfectly bolstered seats to the headliner. One hand is on the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel while the other turns the cold, metal volume button. An acoustic set by Kiwi band “Broods” cranks up crisply through the $8,450 Bang & Olufsen audio system. Who cares if I haven’t seen 60 mph in this supercar?
I do. The itch to push the Aston harder soon returns, so I get off the highway near the Cotswolds and use the navi to map out a tight, twisty route away from civilization. I turn onto a narrow, tree-lined road that has lots of elevation changes. But before I can touch a shift paddle, a Honda motorcycle in HRC guise, its rider wearing a fluorescent yellow outfit, charges around the corner and comes at the Aston head-on. I jerk the steering wheel left and, being on such a slender road, immediately put the front left tire in the weeds and scratch the outside edge of the diamond-turned wheel.
Scuffing a wheel on an Aston is a faux pas surpassed only by ragging on Queen Elizabeth or, worse, Sienna Miller. I treat the English countryside to a string of Yankee-twanged obscenities, and a man walking his dog nearby can’t help but laugh. I apologize, and then we start talking. We switch lives for a moment—I play fetch with his blue-eyed Australian shepherd puppy, and he sits in the 2016 Aston Martin DB9 GT, running his hands over its leather-lined cabin.
“This is an absolutely beautiful machine,” he says. The DB9, even as it advances in years, and even through a miserable day’s driving, knows how to please. And it’ll only get better next year when we should see its successor, the DB11, which Aston Martin promises will be an even better grand tourer. For now, I’m left to enjoy the quieter pleasures that both England and Aston have on offer. The man resumes walking his dog, and I climb back in the 2016 Aston Martin DB9 GT, where life isn’t so bad after all.
2016 Aston Martin DB9 GT Specifications
- On Sale: Now
- Price: $215,040/$247,500 (base/as-tested)
- Engine: 5.9L DOHC 48-valve V-12/540 hp @ 6,750 rpm, 457 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Layout: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
- EPA Mileage: 13/19 mpg (city/hwy)
- Suspension F/R: Control arms, coil springs/control arms, coil springs
- Tires F/R: 245/35R-20 / 295/30R-20 Pirelli P Zero
- L x W x H: 185.5 x 81.1 x 50.4 in
- Wheelbase: 108.0 in
- Headroom: 36.2 in
- Legroom: 42.7 in
- Shoulder Room: 54.8 in
- Cargo Room: 6.6 cu ft
- Towing: N/A
- Weight: 4,167 lb
- Weight Dist. F/R: 49/51%
- 4.5 sec
- 1/4-Mile: N/A
- Top Speed: 183 mph