2016 DB9 GT
Base Price: $199,950
Performance: 0 to 60 mph: 4.4 seconds, 183 mph max speed
The DB cars have been the backbone of the Aston Martin lineup since the early 1950s, and the DB9 has carried on that tradition with style. As it nears replacement next year, the DB9 becomes the DB9 GT for 2016 while getting some extensive upgrades. The output of the 5.9-liter V-12 increases from 510 to 540 horsepower, and the interior changes over to the AMi II touch-sensitive infotainment system. On the outside, the DB9 GT also gets black paint on the splitter and diffuser, revised headlights and taillights, new 10-spoke 20-inch wheels, and black anodized brake calipers.
ALSO SEE: 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder First Drive
From behind the wheel, this 2+2 ground tourer is different than any car you've ever driven. The steering is firmer and quicker than anything this side of a race car. The carbon ceramic brakes are so strong that they grab quickly and stop you short if you don't feather them just right. In the European tradition, they also squeak, which Americans will find annoying.
Like other Aston Martins, the DB9 GT sends its power to a rear transaxle, via a carbon fiber driveshaft. The transmission is a six-speed automatic that is fairly responsive but doesn’t deliver the quick, crisp shifts of competitors’ dual-clutch gearboxes. With the engine set back in a front-mid-engine design and the transmission's weight on the rear axle, the DB9 GT has a near perfect front-to-rear weight balance.
Hustling through the Santa Monica Mountain roads, the DB9 GT rotated far more willingly than the Rapide. After some initial trepidation, I got into a nice rhythm and played around with kicking the tail out in sharp corners. The car responded predictably, and provided a lot of feedback. Those are two traits you want in a grand tourer.