Story: Will Sabel Courtney
Photography: Andrew Link
These days, it seems like every big-name sports car company you can think of has some even bigger name brand behind ’em: Ferrari has Fiat; Porsche has VW; Lamborghini has Audi...which in turn is owned by VW as well. Aston Martin, though, goes it alone. Ford owned the company for a while, but a decade or so ago, Aston struck off on its own and hasn’t looked back. (And for what it's worth, the cars have only gotten better since they ditched the Blue Oval.)
Why are we mentioning this? Well, consider it context for why some of the smaller details in the DB9 don’t quite live up to what you’d expect from a car that costs north of $200,000. The navigation system is a Garmin—albeit one in a very attractive retractable carbon-fiber housing. The radio screen is the anti-Retina display—black and white, with pixels so large you can pick them out five feet away. The windows roll up automatically when you open the door with the car off, but they don’t roll back down when you start the car again. Little things like that.
here in 2013, in the golden age of automotive quality and features—when you can by a Ford Focus with leather seats and Jaguar makes cars that don't short-circuit when it gets humid—We call those sorts of things flaws. But with an Aston Martin, these aren't flaws. They're just part of the car's character.
The DB9 is a throwback to an earlier time, when luxury cars were made by hand in small batches, and every car had its flaws—but you didn’t care, because they were your car’s flaws, and you loved them because that was part of the package. Perfection is characterless. Perfection is boring.
So if you can look past those…character traits, the DB9 is a sweet ride, indeed. Practice walking backward, because you’ll never be able to park this car without staring at it as you walk away. It’s one of the finest-looking cars ever—period. Stack it up against the E-Type, the 300SL, your preferred generation of 911—the DB9 has a fighting chance of coming out on top. The interior upholstery looks like it was put together on Savile Row. The naturally aspirated V12—that beautiful dying breed of engine—makes music when you put your foot down.
And with 510 horses, it moves the decently heavy Aston with serious oomph. We took it to some of our favorite mountain roads and let it loose alongside a new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, only to be pleasantly surprised to see the old-school, drop-top, “character”-filled DB9 stick to the lighter, all-wheel-drive-equipped, technological wündercar like Carl Weathers to a ham bone.
No car is perfect, but some make a business out of coming as close to it as possible. (We're looking at you, Lexus.) But y'know...maybe we could use a little more imperfection in the automotive world. Especially if the results wind up as beautiful and as fast as the DB9 Volante.
Price as Tested: $222,505
Power: 510hp, 457 lb.-ft.
0-60: 4.5 secs.
Fuel Economy: 13 city, 19 hwy
Miles Driven: 295