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2012 Aston Martin DBS Carbon Edition review (video)

This is the 380kW 2012 Aston Martin DBS Carbon Edition. It’s the high-performance, more focused version of the DB9, and it’s quite possibly the sexiest vehicle on the market. With the new James Bond Skyfall movie hitting cinemas on November 22, what better way to get the 007 juices flowing.

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • Gorgeous styling from every angle
  • Brilliantly stable and planted handling; the chassis feels like it can handle another 200kW-plus
  • One of the best suspension setups we’ve come across
  • V12 power and its soundtrack
  • Bang & Olufsen stereo system is sublime

CONS:

  • DBS interior is a touch cramped
  • Fuel economy isn’t the best, even for a car with 380kW – obviously James Bond has a fuel card
  • Steep price ($510,679) puts it up against the very biggest and best in the business

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – OVERVIEW

The Carbon Edition is one of two special edition yet permanent models in the Aston Martin range. The other is the DBS Ultimate. Both will be available for the life of the current model.

The Carbon comes with, you guessed it, an assortment of carbon fibre highlights and trimmings inside and out, giving it a distinguishing performance theme.

Although carbon fibre is known to be lighter in weight compared with metal counterparts, the additions made to the DBS Carbon are not significant enough to bring its overall weight down compared with the normal DBS, which is already a stripped back DB9. The Carbon weighs in at 1740kg, or around 60kg lighter than the normal DB9.

Aston Martin DBSs aren’t all that common in Australia. In fact, to give you an idea of how exclusive we’re talking, this example you see here is the only Carbon Edition in the country at the moment. Aston Martin will be delivering a number other examples to lucky buyers in the coming months.

Each customer is treated to a prestigious buying experience when purchasing an Aston, with a special sit-down suite at each dealership specifically made for when you are selecting colours and trims. (Those looking for Q will be disappointed; there’s no rear oil spray systems or a camouflage mechanism to be talked through.)

Prices for the DBS Carbon Edition start at $510,679 – or $520,563 as tested (excluding on-road costs).

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – ENGINE SOUND AND 0-100KM/H ACCELERATION VIDEO

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – ACCOMMODATION AND EQUIPMENT

Bond would feel right at home in the DBS Carbon. The interior is filled with suave leather and suede trimmings and dashes of chrome, polished aluminium, and of course, carbon fibre. It’s the perfect amount of each material too, with no excess in any area.

There’s no denying this car is simply breathtaking to behold. It oozes all kinds of sensual flavours with its imposing coupe stance. Despite seeming relatively large on the outside though, the cockpit is fairly confined. We’d even go as far as saying the interior room is about on par with the Toyota 86, for legroom, shoulder space and headroom. Taller drivers especially may experience mild discomfort on long journeys.

The seats are sporty bucket-type items that wrap around you and hold you in place. They’re comfortable and super-grippy. You aren’t going to fall out of them no matter what corners you tackle, put it that way.

In the back, there are two seats as well, but they are very tight and practically useless for adults. They are great for stowing your bag and accessories (or your helmet), but that’s about it.

To keep everyone entertained inside – not that you need entertaining when there’s a howling V12 under the bonnet – the DBS Carbon comes with a multimedia interface with USB and iPod support. Satellite navigation is also standard.

Audio is sent through a Bang & Olufsen sound system that is quite simply the best stereo you could possibly expect in a car. You always hear high praise for Bang & Olufsen products, but it’s not until you actually experience one that you understand. The only way music could sound any better in the DBS is if you were parked in the studio during the song’s recording. It’s an experience in itself just to play through you favourite tracks without actually driving anywhere.

To add icing to the cake, each time you turn the system on speakers rise up from the corners of the dash, providing a theatre-like grand opening (see video intro above).

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – DESIGN AND SAFETY

Where to start with the design? The DBS is based on the beautiful DB9 which has been loved by all since it was conceived in 2004. The model has been updated and refreshed a number of times over the years, and it still looks as stunning and modern as ever.

For the DBS Carbon Edition, every area is made more aggressive and focused for the job of driving. There’s a carbon fibre front spoiler and splitter system, side skirts that flare out like wings, and a chunky carbon diffuser at the back encompassing the dual-outlet exhaust.

The rear also shows off a set of muscular yet sexy rear haunches that protrude out, like a lady exposing some thigh through a slit evening gown.

It’s one of those cars that is impossible not to look at. Out on the road we (unfortunately) nearly caused a number of accidents as onlookers simply could not look away. Even if they were behind the wheel of a car.

Who can blame them though? It’s literally breathtaking, every time you look at it, no matter where you park it. And we mean breathtaking as your heartbeat does tend to rise when you’re around it.

In terms of safety, ANCAP, thankfully, hasn’t crashed one into a wall for testing purposes. It does come with dual front airbags and side airbags, as well as switchable stability and traction control. The sheer solidness of it all certainly provides you with a very secure feeling while inside.

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – ON THE ROAD

As good as the DBS is to look at, it’s even better to drive. The moment you fire up the 6.0-litre naturally aspirated V12 – and you never get tired of saying that – using the unique crystal key fob that pushes into a special spot in the dash, you know you have just begun an event.

This is no ordinary car, and Aston Martin does an excellent job of reminding you of that on every start up. There’s even a little note that says ‘Pure Aston Martin’ displayed inside the speedo (below).

Blip the throttle and you’ll hear a glorious V12 howl that finishes with a crisp rasp when you hit the higher revs. It is easily one of the best-sounding engines on the market. It’s so clear and refined, it sends goosebumps tingling down your spine. And if you’re in an undercover car park or a tunnel when you do this, be prepared, your current marital status could soon change.

There’s a number of settings that you can alter on the car before you set off. There’s a sports suspension mode, which firms up the dampers for a more direct and focused feel, while a sport button also modifies the transmission mapping for quicker shift times. The traction/stability control button also removes any form of electronic safety net.

Obviously, during our drive through the snowy mountains in NSW, all of these buttons were pushed. It is good to know these functions work extremely well however.

In particular, the traction control system does cut in under hard acceleration to reduce any chance of wheelspin before it happens. It offers exceptional safety even for the provisional would-be 007 agents out there. It does tend to reduce the throttle if it thinks there’s even a chance of wheel slip though, hampering outright acceleration. In these situations, you can simply turn it off.

Through the tight and twisty stuff, the DBS Carbon Edition is faultless. It’s solid and feels planted at all times. The steering is magic as well, giving you a precise indication of what the wheels are doing, and how the tyres are coping.

With the suspension in sport mode during our test the dampers were quite simply the best we’ve ever experienced. Even dealing with mid-corner bumps, there’s no sudden jolts, no bump-steer, and certainly no tramlining to contend with. This allows you to pull some serious g-force around your favourite bends. It’s like driving around in a roller coaster, except it’s more exciting because there’s a screaming V12 up front crying out all kinds of aural ecstasy.

Equipped with carbon ceramic disc brakes, the DBS has enough braking power to hurt your insides. If you’re a serious driver, you can end up jumping out after a decent drive feeling like you’ve just walked out from a day’s worth of fun park activities. There’s good brake pedal feel throughout the range, and while we experienced no fade whatsoever, you would need to take it to a track to really experience their full capabilities.

In terms of performance, we timed 0-100km/h in an easy 4.4 seconds. It’s a very quick time, but it doesn’t do its overall grand touring adeptness any justice. This is an astonishing machine and one that deserves to be explored by stretching its legs out on the track, or out on some of Australia’s great touring roads.

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – VERDICT

It’s hard to sum up a car like this. It doesn’t feel like just a fine piece of machinery, it goes much more emotional and deeper than that. In fact, it’s not really a car at all, it’s an event, an experience. Each time you get in or out of it, emotions race through your body. It’s inspirational.

Can we critique an emotional being? No. And for that reason we’ll just leave you to be the judge.

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – THE COMPETITORS

Ferrari FF – 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12, 486kW/683Nm – $625,000
The Ferrari wagon. It’s got four seats, it’s four-wheel drive, and it’s propelled by a snarling Ferrari V12; the perfect grand tourer really?

2012 ASTON MARTIN DBS CARBON EDITION – SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL
2012 Aston Martin DBS Carbon Edition

ENGINE
6.0-litre naturally aspirated V12

ENGINE SIZE  / COMPRESSION RATIO
5935cc / 10.9:1

BORE X STROKE
89mm x 79.5mm

POWER
380kW@3500rpm, 570Nm@5750rpm

POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO
4.57: 1 (kg:kW)

KERB WEIGHT
1740kg

HEIGHT / WIDTH / LENGTH
1280mm / 1905mm / 4721mm

DRIVETRAIN
Six-speed sports automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential

BRAKES
F: Ventilated and cross-drilled ceramic discs, six-piston calipers
R: Ventilated and cross-drilled ceramic discs, four-piston calipers

WHEELS / TYRES
Front: 20-inch alloy, 245/35
Rear: 20-inch alloy, 295/30

FUEL TANK CAPACITY
78 litres

FUEL TYPE
Premium 95 RON

FUEL CONSUMPTION
Tested average: 18.5L/100km
Official average: 15.5L/100km

PERFORMANCE
0-100km/h: 4.4 seconds (tested)

PRICED FROM
$510,679 ($520,563 as tested)

WARRANTY
Three-year/Unlimited kilometre

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.