According to British luxury carmaker Aston Martin, the DB9 is a sports car to use when you’re wearing a suit. Elegant, low-key, and reliable – these are the qualities that make Aston Martin standout from other sports cars. It’s rare to see one on Chinese streets, so it’s no surprise we turned more than a few heads as we took it for a spin around Shanghai. The silver-blue body with a dark blue trim are modest and restrained, which is, after all, what you’d expect from a British gentleman. However, behind its refined and elegant facade lies something wild.
To get past the cool, respectable veneer of the DB9 is simple. Lift up the discrete door handle, open the door and get inside. Insert key into ignition, and as you hear the roar of the engine for the first time, you know there’s something more to this deceitfully beautiful car.
The accelerator pedal of the DB9 is very interesting. Press it down one third of the way and you have a gentle drive; and shifting up gears is also smooth. At 70 km/h you’re already in sixth gear and the sound of the exhaust is barely audible. But, press down a little more with your right foot and the 12 cylinder engine responds without hesitation, pushing you firmly into the back of your seat. A deep, satisfying bass sound vibrates right up through you to your head. Going in to ‘Sport’ mode also has a distinct affect on the DB9’s performance. Now the slightest touch on the accelerator is followed by a roar from the engine, turning the heads of passersby – if it were before, it’s definitely now no longer possible to remain low-key.
In a car with such large horsepower and rear wheel drive, we were of course keen to see the power of the DB9 when accelerating. With 20 inch Pirelli P Zero sport tires, 295mm wide, we still had a moment of wheel-spin before the tread found its grip on the road and launched us forward so fast, it was like experiencing a firm hug, weightlessness, and vertigo all at the same time. The 6-speed gearbox can’t be faulted; changing gears is seamless, and by the time you’re in third you’re already moving 100 km/h. As you release the accelerator in sport mode, the sound of the engine hums like music.
The steering wheel, no matter what mode you’re in, is sturdy and responsive. You feel close to the ground and can sense the conditions on the road through the vibra- tions. The design is comfortable, with in wheel controls, wrapped in leather, at three o’clock and nine o’clock.
The seat is easy to adjust with plenty of leg room, but it’s wide, so slim drivers might find themselves sliding from side to side. Although it’s moulded to give good support, after a while the seat does start to feel rather hard.
In the evening, with the city lights reflecting off the paintwork, we prepare to take the DB9 back to Aston Martin and let it hide its wild side once more.