The pick of the range, oddly, as it’s the cheaper version, is the V8. That’s because it’s lighter than the V12, by 115kg, and lightness is a good thing when it comes to handling.
In bends, the DB11’s body stays relatively flat, and with that lighter V8 up front, it’s sharper to turn in and it feels much nimbler scything through a challenging series of corners than the V12, or, for that matter, the S-Class Coupé or Continental GT.
It steers better, too. The steering is quick, but not so quick around the straight-ahead that it feels nervous at motorway speeds, and it transmits a pretty well defined impression of the road straight to the palms of your hands. This supplies you with the confidence to know when the front tyres are either gripping or about to take you wide.
The porkier V12 DB11 is along similar lines, but just feels a little less-well sorted; the steering is lighter and less predictable, it’s more ponderous when changing direction and its accelerator and brake pedals aren’t as progressive.
Nor is the V12’s rear end as well tied down. It bounces more over dips and crests in the road, and with 600bhp going through the rear wheels only, that can make it a challenge drive. Even with 503bhp the V8 is still lairy, but – if you respect the fact that it can be twitchy on wet roads and drive accordingly – it’s a very rewarding and fun car to drive. If, however, you want something quick but more surefooted, buy the four-wheel-drive Continental GT. Just bear in mind you just won’t have nearly as much fun.
The suspension has adaptive dampers as standard, and these deliver a good spectrum of modes, from softest GT through Sport and Sport +. In its softest setting, the DB11 isn’t as pliant as the S-Class Coupé or Continental GT – you feel a little more shimmy over rippled sections of motorway, and a firmer bump across potholes in town – but it’s perfectly acceptable.
There’s also a little more tyre and wind noise at speed than in those rivals, but the DB11 is intended to sit at the sportier end of the GT class, and in this context it’s not an issue. Put it this way: if you want to settle into a comfortable, 600-mile dash across Europe, the DB11 will oblige.
Each DB11 engine has a very different character; the V12 sounds epic at all times, whereas the V8 is much quieter than it is in AMG Mercs, only starting to snarl and spit at higher revs.
The more powerful V12 also claims the higher top speed, of 200mph, as opposed to 187 for the V8, and the quicker 0-62mph time, of 3.9 versus 4.0sec. But in the real world you’d be hard pressed to tell, and with sharper dynamics, the V8 would probably be the quicker of the two along a twisting Alpine road.