2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8 First Drive: Addition By Subtraction

– Rancho Santa Fe, California

When Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “buy the ticket, take the ride” he was not speaking about sports cars. But for some reason it’s that phrase that’s echoing in the back of my head as I kick the throttle of this Aston Martin, and cause an eruption of sound energy to crack through the dry air of the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

There’s something about driving hard into the desert. And though I’m no kind of Gonzo, the sound and force of this Aston V8 does serve as a kind of liquor in the blood, the harder I push and the higher it howls.

2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8: First Drive
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8: First Drive
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8: First Drive
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8: First Drive
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8: First Drive

Call this a Mercedes motor if you must; I’ll call it sonic force for delight as the revs pile up.

“V8” isn’t a footnote or a throwaway line here, either, it’s the reason Aston asked me out to southern California at all. It’s been a year since we brought you the First Drive of the DB11 with a traditional V12 under hood. Now the British company is ready to launch the slightly less expensive V8 iteration of the GT car – a car that, frankly, won’t be sold much in the U.S. but should do well in markets like Asia and Europe. And the truth is that, down on power or not, it might just be the pick of the line.

The engine at issue is a biturbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that you’ll recognize from the very sexy Mercedes-AMG parts bin. Developing 503 horsepower and 498 pound-feet of torque, the V8 gives up 93 hp and 18 lb-ft in addition to 4 cylinders, but it’s down just 0.1 seconds to 62 miles per hour, versus the V12 DB11. And...