The Route Napoléon, which climbs north from the French Riviera to Grenoble, is widely considered to be one of the best driving highways in Europe. It features a breathtaking mix of small switchbacks and high-speed turns that are joined by brief straightaways. Because a significant portion of it goes through national parkland, there is relatively little traffic along it. On the other hand, it is not exactly a well-kept secret, as evidenced by the fact that you will see groups of motorcyclists, driving tour groups, and inevitably campers along the way. The ideal vehicle for the Route Napoléon is one that is taut and sensitive in the twisties, poised in the rapid corners, and has deep reservoirs of power in order to rip past dawdlers in the brief passing zones and roar triumphantly down the valleys. The Route Napoléon is one of the most famous roads in the world. Something comparable to the Aston Martin DB12, for example.

Aston Martin

When navigating the small streets of the Côte d’Azur in the large Aston Martin DB12, you get the distinct impression that the vehicle is more than adequately wide. The steering has been improved for better precision both on and off centre, which, thankfully, makes it much simpler to park this car just where you want it. The ratio is set, which helps with predictability, and the rapidity is the same as it was before, clocking in at 2.4 turns lock to lock. The amount of power help varies depending on the speed and the drive mode, but the differences are not overly dramatic. The Michelin Pilot Sport 5S tyres that were customised for the DB12 (275/35-ZR21 in the front and 325/30-ZR21 in the back) were designed with an emphasis on on-center precision as a primary design goal.

Grip was another important factor, and the DB12 has plenty of it. Even when we were caught off guard by a narrowing blind corner or suddenly booted the accelerator racing out of a curve, it was impossible to upset this chassis no matter how hard we pushed it or how far we dared to push it. Aston states that 52 percent of the vehicle’s mass is carried by the rear wheels, and the DB12 drives extremely well balanced, with responsive turn-in and very little push from the front end.

The new DB12’s chassis was tuned with the intention of retaining the vehicle’s ride quality while also improving the vehicle’s handling. In addition to the three primary drive modes (GT, Sport, and Sport+), there are now new modes called Wet and Individual. Once you turn off the electronic stability control, there are also nine different levels of traction control to choose from (although this capacity wasn’t functional in the pre-production cars that we tested). Simon Newton, Director of Vehicle Performance, talks about wanting to allow the car to “breathe,” which necessitated tweaking the new Bilstein DTX adaptive dampers to allow some vertical motion even in the firmest setting. This was done in order to achieve the desired effect. This most aggressive setting does maintain some degree of ride quality, significantly more so than the majority of Mercedes-AMG or BMW M cars in their most aggressive mode.

Under the hood, you’ll find the majority of the DB11’s successor, the DB12’s, new mechanical features. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, which once again comes from AMG, is far more powerful than the one found in the DB11. The output has been increased to 671 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque thanks to larger turbochargers, altered cam profiles, and a higher compression ratio. This is an increase of 143 horsepower and 77 pound-feet. The new V-8 also surpasses the 630 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque that were previously offered by the V-12. (Aston insiders have mentioned that the V-12 might make a comeback in the future, despite the fact that it is not currently an option for the DB12.)

The V-8, in its current configuration, is not at all disappointing. Because of the engine’s wide torque band, which extends from 2,750 to 6,000 rpm, the turbo V-8 is incredibly powerful throughout the whole range of engine speeds. And boy, does this engine have some bite to it. Although Aston estimates that the DB12 needs 3.5 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour, the car feels even more brisk when driving. When driving on the Route Napoléon, flooring the right pedal sent the automobile careening towards the next turn, which made even the most difficult overtaking manoeuvres suddenly possible. The only thing that bothers us about the Sport+ setting is the harsh throttle mapping.

If an engine is going to be able to propel a vehicle forward with the force of this V-8, then the braking system that goes along with it needs to be just as powerful. When we pressed down on the left pedal of our DB12, it was solid and reassuring, and it squeezed carbon-ceramic rotors that were more than capable of handling the job. They are a new choice that can save roughly 60 pounds in comparison to the usual iron stoppers, despite the fact that they may occasionally produce a very mild squeal when used in light applications. The new wheels measure 21 inches in diameter and are 9.5 inches wide in the front and 10.5 inches wide in the back. This allows the hefty rotors to be seen. The new forged wheels have a diameter of 21 inches, which is an increase from the 20-inch wheels found on the DB11; nevertheless, the new wheels are collectively 17 pounds lighter.