DB9 Coupe Description
In Production: January 2004 – date
Chassis numbers: A00001 – onwards, in series with the Volante
The first car based on VH architecture and the first to emerge from the new Gaydon facility was the 2+2 DB9, codenamed AM803, a direct replacement for the DB7 and core product for the forthcoming range. The car made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, 9th September 2003; AMOC members got an exclusive viewing the car at their special open day at Gaydon the following Saturday.
At the time, Dr Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, explained, “The DB9 will, without doubt, be the most important Aston Martin model ever. Not only is it the first time in our history that we have a purpose-built facility but we now also have a dedicated platform. The DB9 is an excellent example of what we as a company stand for today – namely making elegant and understated British sports cars for individuals.”
The DB9 enjoyed a thorough testing programme over one million miles. In all, 93 prototypes were built and tested in locations as diverse as Nardo in Italy, Death Valley in the USA, and inside the Arctic Circle in Sweden, as well as in laboratories around the world. In addition to using the Cranfield University's state-of-the-art 40 percent model wind tunnel, Aston Martin also used Ford's Environmental Test Laboratory in Dunton, which features one of the most advanced climatic wind tunnels in the world. Other testing took place at Volvo's world-renowned crash test safety centre in Sweden, and at the vast and superbly equipped Ford test track in Lommel, Belgium.
The DB9 was all new, designed from the ground up (although the engine was not entirely new) and unlike many of it’s GT competitors, wasn’t based on a family or luxury saloon car. The Bentley Continental GT for instance was such a car, and major British built competitor, based on the VW Phaeton saloon and weighing 600kg more than the Aston. As if to show how much of a technological leap the DB9 was over the outgoing DB7, the DB8 name was not used. At a dinner held jointly by the Aston Martin Heritage Trust and the Royal Automobile Club at the latter’s palatial home in Pall Mall, London, in January 2004, Henrik Fisker, the then Director of Design and speaker on this occasion, was asked this very question. His reply was quite simple. The specification of the new car was more than just the upgrade of the old car that a straightforward sequential naming might suggest. The DB9 was entirely novel in design and concept and, as such, was a great leap forward into a new era showing the way the marque would be going with its future designs. It has also been speculated that using DB8 on a V12 powered car would cause some confusion, or that DB8 could have been initially intended for the V8 Vantage.
The DB9 used the new VH Platform structure, similar to that seen on the Vanquish but now developed even further, giving this car a greater level of rigidity while still complying with the needs of the current legislation relating to crash impact absorption. It was such an advance over the outgoing DB7 bodyshell that it weighed 25% less but had double the torsional rigidity. Cast aluminium was used in the windscreen surround, another industry first. Magnesium alloy, which is even lighter than aluminium, was used in the steering column assembly and inner door frames. Whereas the DB7 had a mostly steel body, the DB9 had aluminium bonnet, roof and rear wings; the front wings and boot lid were composite.
The styling of the car can be seen as a softer updated version of the Vanquish. Initially designed by Ian Callum, the signed off car was credited to Henrik Fisker, who joined AML as Director of Design in September 2001 when Ian moved full time to work at Jaguar. The bodywork was described as elegant and gently curved, with a clean side profile and a single-sweep roofline. There was a pronounced boot - a noticeable feature of the DB4 and DB5 - and the haunches on the rear wings were wide and curvaceous. There were very few cut or shut lines. Each of the headlamps for instance was set in a single aperture in the front wing. There was no separate nose cone and thus the aluminium bonnet ran all the way to the leading edge of the car. The DB9 was the first Aston to feature the intriguing and unique 'swan wing' doors, which rise at a 12-degree angle for improved access, lifting the vulnerable lower edge away from kerbs and the biased hinges allowed the doors to close under their own weight.
Power to drive the car came from a third generation version of the V12, modified from that fitted to the Vanquish and specifically designed for the DB9; it produced 450 bhp. In the Vanquish the engine offered ultimate performance, in DB9 tune it offered more torque over a wider rev range. Also, as used in the DB9, the V12 was a useful 11.8kg lighter than in the Vanquish. The engine was placed further back and lower than would perhaps be expected, improving the overall balance of the car and described as front-mid mounted. Initially the engine was built by Cosworth Technology at its plant in England, but within a few months, production moved to a dedicated Aston Martin engine factory within the much larger Ford Niehl Engine Plant, in Cologne, Germany, which allowed AML greater flexibility in tailoring engines for various applications.
However, the most significant departure from the recent past was the placing of the gearbox at the rear of the car, a feature last seen in an Aston Martin in the Project 215 racing coupé of the mid-1960s. For the DB9, an aluminium torque tube with carbon fibre drive shaft connected the front-mid engine to the rear-mid clutch, gearbox and final drive assembly. This gave the DB9 perfect 50:50 weight distribution with 85% on the car’s mass sited between the front and rear axles. The gearbox at launch was a ZF six-speed automatic unit with paddle-shift (known as Touchtronic 2), and could drive the car in full auto mode, or allow the driver to change gear manually using the ‘F1 style’ steering column mounted paddles. With Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive buttons mounted on the dash, there was no need for a conventional gear lever, freeing up space on the centre console. A six-speed manual with a traditional gear lever became available from March 2005 but relatively few cars had this. With the same Graziano gearbox as fitted to the V8 Vantage, the manual DB9 weighed 60kg less than the auto.
The suspension was all independent by double aluminium wishbones with co-axial springs and dampers and front and rear anti roll bars. Steering was by a speed sensitive ZF rack and pinion system while the car rolled on 19-inch 10 spoked alloy wheels, shod with 235/40ZR19 tyres at the front and 275/25ZR19 at the rear. Braking was by ventilated and grooved discs all round, 355mm diameter at the front, 330mm at the rear all with four piston monoblock calipers.
With previous Aston Martins, a common complaint from journalists and to some extent, owners, was the use of other manufacturers’ trim parts and controls. Not so with the DB9, everything the driver saw and touched was unique to Aston Martin. The glass starter button, for instance shone red when the ignition was switched on, but took on a blue glow when the engine was running. The instrument pack was particularly attractive and innovative with the dials made from aluminium, designed to resemble an expensive Swiss watch and lit from the front. The warning lights were hidden behind the aluminium instrument faces; micro perforations in the face of the dials allow the warning lights to be seen only when lit. The electronic message displays in the main instrument cluster and in the centre console, were organic electroluminescent (OEL), a first in the car industry. These were designed to provide higher resolution and improved clarity over the more and widely used conventional LEDs. As part of the start-up procedure, the display conveys the ‘Power Beauty Soul’ message; a feature still used on all current production Aston Martins. The rev counter ran anti-clockwise to maximise the visible area for the central electronic display. The audio system, integrated into the facia and especially designed for the DB9, was provided by Linn, a highly regarded British company and world leader in exclusive hi-fi. The extensive wood of the centre console and door tops (a choice of walnut, mahogany and uniquely, bamboo) gave the impression of solidity, rather than a simple veneer. Full grain leather from Bridge of Weir was used extensively on the dash, interior trim and seats as standard; it was machined by hand at Gaydon.
Twenty one standard colours were initially offered together with twenty shades of leather and eight colours of carpet. Each year, more colours were added and to make the choice a little easier, the range was divided into ‘Fast Track’ the standard colour range, ‘Contemporary’ extended range at extra cost and ‘Special’, the most vivid choice. It was also possible to select from all previous standard AM colours or colours from other manufactures but such ‘out of range’ choices were significantly more expensive and delayed the build process. AM also started to offer a service called ‘Match to Sample’ where paint could be especially mixed to produce a unique colour. Despite tabloid press articles about a former model’s colour choice, it is not thought that anyone has yet has specified a pink DB9. Options initially available were upgraded audio, a 260W or ultimate 950W system, Sat-Nav, Bluetooth, cruise control and parking sensors. Over time, all these ‘must-have’ options became standard fit as most customers specified them and it helped to streamline the production process.
Major update for the DB9 occurred for the 2009MY which gained an additional 20bhp and a rework of the facia along the lines of that seen in the DBS. For the 2011MY, the DB9 also received a subtly revisited body styling and the fitting of adaptive damping as a standard fitting.
The DB9 needed input from skilled craftsmen who would spend more than 200 hours hand-building each car, of this time 50 hours was spent painting, polishing and finishing to achieve the perfect surface. The most popular colour has been Meteorite Silver very closely followed by Tungsten Silver and then Titanium Silver. Once you add in Hammerhead Silver, Sarthe Silver, Lightning Silver, Oyster Silver, Quantum Silver plus a few others, you can see that the various shades of silver became the default DB9 choice.
DB9 Coupe Variants
DB9 Sports Pack
Introduced from July 2006, the optional Sports Pack was developed with the driving enthusiast in mind by tuning key components to deliver a more focused driving experience. New spring and damper arrangement were developed to work in harmony with the reduced unsprung mass of the lightweight wheels and wheel nuts, resulting in exceptionally responsive suspension. Whilst not exclusive to cars with manual transmission, the sports pack was particularly suited to the manual DB9 coupe; it was not however made available on the Volante.
DB9 Sports Pack Features
- 5-Spoke, light-weight, forged Aluminium alloy wheels, but retaining the standard Bridgestone tyres. From 2007MY, the 15 spoke 19 inch wheel was also available with the sports pack
- Titanium wheel nuts (deleted from Feb 2008)
- Revised dampers and Stiffened springs – increase in spring rate – 68% front, 64% rear
- Retuned front anti-roll bar
- Revised undertray offering greater structural rigidity
- Ride height reduced by 6mm, lowering the car’s centre of gravity
- List price of £124,000
DB9 Coupe Special Edition (2010.5MY)
From January 2010, the DB9 coupe was offered with a number of premium options fitted as standard at no additional cost. The options would have otherwise added approximately 10% to the price of the car
- DB9 Special Edition specification
- Touchtronic 2 as standard
- DBS colours of Bergwerk Black, Lightning Silver or Quantum Silver
- Interior, all Obsidian Black with obsidian black fine stitching. Tailors Grey headlining, Obsidian Black carpets
- 1000W Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio
- Sports pack as standard, bright finish grille, clear rear lamps, Magnum Silver Mesh pack
DB9 Premium Sports Pack (2010.5MY)
Built from February 2010, the premium sports pack option became available as a replacement to the previous sports pack. In addition to all the features of the normal sports pack, the premium came with an Adaptive Damping System (ADS) similar to that already on the DBS, but developed to suit the GT characteristics of the coupe and Volante. Sensors positioned around the car sent readings to a central control unit which then determined the most appropriate of 5 settings for the dampers. With dynamic driving the damper settings were stiffer for better handling and control, whereas ‘normal’ driving allowed a softer ride and greater comfort. When starting, the ADS assumed the ‘normal’ mode to provide the most comfortable ride. A sport button on the console allowed the ADS system to aim for maximum damper stiffness. The improvement in ride quality was particularly noticeable in the Volante where the sports pack had not been previously available. For the 2011MY DB9, ADS was made a standard feature and the premium sports pack option was discontinued.
DB9 Works Service Tailored
Works Service has always been able to offer modifications and enhancements to new and customer cars; the first and most well-known one-off DB9, the Sportmodificato, was chassis A02977. A few years later at the Geneva Motor Show 2010, Works Service formally launched their 'Tailored' service. Works Service Tailored offered customers of both new and existing Aston Martins personal tailored options through the world famous facility. Works Service Tailored focused on fashioning colour and materials with limitless boundaries precisely to customer choice and specification, enabling owners to apply their own personal taste.
The car at the show appeared to be finished in Morning Frost White - but it wasn’t, it was Blue Pearl White with the exterior metal work in a matte finish gun metal.
In production September 2010. Chassis Numbers within the range A13097 to A13111
The Stratstone Aston Martin Mayfair dealership on Park Lane was the first to take advantage of the Works Tailored service by commissioning a special series of ten 2011MY DB9 coupes, all right hand drive and with Touchtronic 2 transmission as standard. Six were finished in bespoke ‘Mayfair Black’ with Obsidian Black semi-aniline leather and Obsidian Black carpet and the remaining four in Park Lane White with Blue Gin ultra soft waxy semi-aniline leather and Caspian Blue carpets. These were the very first DB9s ever to have had semi-aniline leather. Other key features of these cars are:
- Leather and alcantara DBS style steering wheel
- Coarse silver seat stitching
- DB9 logo embroidered in the seat back in coarse silver thread
- 10-spoke forged black painted diamond turned wheels
- Microspin alloy facia
- Leather roof lining (Obsidian Black / Blue Gin)
- Special edition sill plaques, 1 to 6 Mayfair Black, 1 to 4 Park Lane White
Other non-works DB9 models
As the DB9 has been built in much greater numbers than any previous model, it is not surprising that the model has caught the attention of other companies which offer bespoke conversions. The list below probably is not comprehensive but it is here to provide the reader with some information on these non-works conversions.
DB9S by Project Khan, based in Bradford, UK. This is a body kit and wheels based styling package to make a DB9 look like a DBS.
Mansory customisation programme. Mansory is a German company specializing, “in the up-rating and individualisation of 'noble' British automobiles”. Their take on the DB9 was with aggressive spoilers, skirts and air intakes and the obligatory big wheels. Mansory also provides performance enhancements and custom carbon fibre / Alcantara interior packages. The first Mansory DB9 even featured ‘Lamborghini’ style butterfly doors.
Mansory Cyrus. As of March 2010, Mansory announced a short run of 15 cars based on either a donor DB9 or DBS with a look similar to that of a One-77 and with an overdose of unpainted carbon fibre.