Aston Martin DB11 vs Bentley Continental GT
Aston Martin's nimble new DB11 takes aim at the established Bentley Continental GT. Which is the best luxury coupé?...
List price £154,900
Target Price £154,900
Long-awaited DB9 replacement is designed to blend sports car thrills with long-distance comfort.
List price £168,900
Target Price £168,900
Continental GT might be getting a bit long in the tooth, but it still has the image and performance.
Think Aston Martin and Bentley and you may well conjure images of long-moustached gents wearing driving goggles, battling it out for victory at Le Mans in the 1920s. Today, the scene is very different, but every bit as exciting.
The British firms’ luxurious coupés need to be fast and fun to drive when the mood takes you, yet still be comfortable cruisers when it doesn’t. Aston Martin’s DB11 is the new kid on the block and, powered by a mighty V12 petrol engine, it promises serious pace with all the opulence you’d expect for £150k.
The equally plush Bentley Continental GT has been around for 13 years, but it’s had various updates to keep it fresh. In range-topping Speed form, as tested, it has a W12 petrol engine (a 12-cylinder unit in a W shape rather than a V) that pumps out even more power than the DB11. It also has four-wheel drive for unflappable all-weather traction.
What are they like to drive?
These coupés are designed to waft you to the south of France in comfort, and both can get you there very quickly. Although the engine in the Aston Martin DB11 produces less power and torque than the Bentley Continental GT’s, it starts to pull from lower revs.
The DB11 is also more than half a tonne lighter than its British rival, so in dry conditions it’s easily the faster accelerating car. However, the Continental’s four-wheel drive helped it match the DB11’s 0-60mph time in our tests, which were held in damp conditions.
Set to their sportiest driving modes, both cars’ eight-speed automatic gearboxes are equally responsive, especially when you take control using the shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. The gravelly V12 roar of the DB11’s engine will make you smile more than the Continental’s bassy howl as you’re propelled towards the Côte d’Azur, though.
On the cruise down there, the DB11 will annoy you more with considerably greater road and wind noise, and an engine that doesn’t really quieten down even when in its calmest driving mode. Aston Martin says it’s still working on sealing the DB11’s interior from the outside elements, but we doubt it’ll ever match the Continental, which is eerily quiet at high speeds.
It’s the same story with the way the two cars ride in their most pliant settings. The DB11 is comfortable on the motorway, but its standard 19in alloys pick up on road scars and ruts at lower speeds, sending a jolt through your backside. Although the Continental has larger 20in wheels, it stays more settled around town, and is just as composed at high speeds.
Should you decide to take the Alpine pass rather than the Autoroute, the DB11 will reward you more, however. Its quicker, more feelsome steering and better balanced handling make it much more fun when the road starts to meander.
The Continental’s greater weight hinders its agility, forcing its front wheels to run wide earlier through tight turns, while its lighter and less communicative steering is nowhere near as rewarding.