The road to producing the world’s most beautiful sports cars is a long and winding one – quite literally in the case of the Aston Martin DB11. Two prototypes of the new coupe headed in opposite directions and far and wide from the marque’s Gaydon headquarters to subject the brand’s latest model to extreme and contrasting weather conditions and terrain.
A four-man technical team, led by climate-control engineer Nadeem Arshad, flew out to Melbourne in January to test the car in the intense heat of an arid Australian summer.
With the mercury touching 45°C at times, the DB11 showed its ability to stay as cool as it looks in the Outback.
A gruelling four-week, 9,000km circular trip took the car from the port city of Geelong and across to Adelaide before heading inland to Alice Springs, then east through Mount Isa to Townsville on the east coast, and all the way south through Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra on the way back to its starting point.
As well as honing the car’s all-round performance in the dry heat, the drive was a key opportunity to perfect the DB11’s state-of-the-art climate- control system, one of many new features in the car and a first for Aston Martin. Among its standout capabilities is the car’s use of GPS to locate its position in relation to the sun and cool the driver or passenger side, depending on which is in the midday glare – such is the attention to detail applied to the car. This Australian road trip provided the final calibration test with the finishing touches marking the culmination of many hours of work already undertaken at Gaydon.
With speed limits varying in different Australia states, and none at all in the Northern Territory, the team could make full use of the power and performance of the DB11’s twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 engine. Touching the top speed of 322kmh (200mph) on the dead-straight tarmac, the car passed this red-hot test with flying colours.
A month later, a second DB11 left Gaydon and embarked on the outward leg of a 5,000km journey through Belgium, the Netherlands and across into Sweden. Passing through Stockholm and crossing into Finland, it arrived at its final destination – the winter testing centre at Ivalo.
Located in Finnish Lapland, 300km north of the Arctic Circle, it is the northernmost automotive test base on the planet.
At the wheel was Aston Martin’s ride and handling expert Matt Becker and an engineer. Driving two shifts a day, the pair spent five weeks in the Nordic nation, clocking up another 15,000km, supported by a team of engineers and technicians at the test base. As well as testing the car’s overall durability and engine performance on the snow-packed roads, attention was paid to the heating and the ability of exterior and interior components to withstand temperatures of up to -30°C.
Mission accomplished, the car duly returned via the same route to Gaydon. With all the data safely stored, the engineering team were able to make any final tweaks ahead of the DB11’s world debut at the Geneva International Motor Show in March. Such testing ensures that the new DB11 won’t be simply the most stylish GT on the market, but also the best performing in any conditions, anywhere in the world.
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