Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

It's Been Worth the Wait; Six Years after the DB9 Was Launched, John Simister Finds They Have Finally Got It Right

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

It's Been Worth the Wait; Six Years after the DB9 Was Launched, John Simister Finds They Have Finally Got It Right

Article excerpt

ASTON Martin's new Rapide saloon is a luscious-looking machine.

It's as pleasing to drive as it is to gaze upon, and the fact that it can be a saloon while still looking obviously Aston Martin-like is an impressive feat of visual trickery.

It is, effectively, a lengthened, four-door Aston Martin DB9. In the same way, the V8 Vantage is effectively a shorter DB9. The DBS is a DB9 with attitude. Among all this derivation, how is the DB9 itself faring, six years after its launch?

I've had an unsatisfactory relationship with this car over the years. On the original launch I thought it was marvellous, exactly the sort of handsome, sophisticated, exhilarating, satisfying grand tourer that Aston Martin should be making and, at the time, probably better than its Italian rivals. Strange, then, that each subsequent DB9 I drove was worse than the one before. The next one had a Sport pack, which destroyed the ride comfort. The one after, in standard specification, just felt oddly awoodena in its responses. I was deeply disappointed.

The launch cars, it later turned out, were using adjustable adevelopmenta suspension dampers set to match those due to be used in the production cars that customers would buy. But they didn't match; they were better. Whether or not the production cars did eventually reach the launch cars' standard I don't know, but it doesn't matter any more. That's because the DB9 has just had a makeover, with various cosmetic and equipment updates but also, more significantly, suspension with a new adaptive damper system.

First used in the DBS and then in the Rapide, it's a Bilstein system with Normal and Sport modes, each of which has a range of five stages of firmness which are automatically selected according to the forces acting on the DB9. Sounds simple; the tricky part is programming the settings to suit the car and the roads on which it will be driven, a trick not learnt in the first DBS I drove which floated strangely in Normal and appeared to be locked solid in Sport. The Rapide, by contrast, feels great.

And the DB9? Before finding out, a quick look at what else is new. …

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