Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, 9th September 2003, the Aston Martin DB9, became the first car to be produced at the company's modern facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
The innovative DB9 began an exciting new era for Aston Martin as it took on a fresh direction with new models.
Úsing a radical new aluminium bonded frame, the 2+2 DB9 remains one of the most sophisticated and technically advanced sports cars in the world. It successfully balances the attributes of a sports car with features normally found in luxury cars.
Dr Úlrich Bez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin said in 2003: 'All cars built at Gaydon are based on Aston Martin's new VH Vertical Horizontal architecture. It's the first time in our history that we have had a totally flexible yet dedicated Aston Martin architecture. The DB9 is the first car to use it making it the most important Aston Martin ever.'
The Aston Martin DB9 is a modern interpretation of a traditional Aston Martin sports car, representing a contemporary version of classic DB design elements and characteristics.
In true Aston Martin tradition, the DB9 reflects the company's reputation for superb styling and continues a long history of beautiful sports cars.
Key traditional Aston Martin features incorporated into the DB9 include the distinctive grille, metal side strakes and signature rear window shape.Clean and elegant surfacing
Aston Martins are not edgy cars - they don't have sharp surfaces or pronounced power domes. The bodywork is elegant and gently curved, with the side profile being very clean, with a single-sweep roofline. There is a pronounced boot - a noticeable feature of the DB4 and DB5 - and the haunches on the rear wings are wide and curvaceous.
A great deal of time was spent on detailing. In particular, focus was placed on cutting down fuss. There are very few cut or shut lines. Each of the headlamps is set in a single aperture in the front wing.
There is no separate nose cone, another typical source of sports car design fussiness. The aluminium bonnet runs all the way to the leading edge of the car. This accentuates the length of the bonnet and the power of the car, all front cut lines emanate from the grille.
The DB9's bumpers are invisible. The front number plate is part of the crash structure and computer modelling has enabled Aston Martin to use invisible 'hard pressure zones' to cope with bumps. The DB9 appears as if it were milled out of a single solid piece of aluminium, with the absence of fussy detailing and a minimum of shut lines have which helped create unparalleled elegance.
The side strakes - an Aston Martin DB signature - are made from metal. The door handles are flush with the body opening the unique 'swan wing' doors, which rise at a 12-degree angle for improved access. There are no visible gutters on the roof panel, and no visible drain channels at the front or rear windscreens. Nor are there any plastic 'dressing' plates.The importance of good stance
The way a car sits on the road is crucial, a sleek, long look is what Aston Martin wanted to achieve.
The wide track and long wheelbase are further advantages. Compared with the outgoing DB7 Vantage, the DB9's wheelbase is 149mm longer, yet the track is 52mm wider at the front. Yet overall length and width are only marginally increased. The 19-inch wheel has taken into account the optimal size for this car's design and dynamics, although different wheel styles are available.
The low bodywork, relative to the wheels, is possible because of the suspension design. The front suspension uses wishbones that 'fit' within the diameter of the wheels. This narrow spacing, between top and bottom wishbones, means the bodywork can be low - because there is no high suspension to clear. It also improves camber stiffness, improving handling.
The DB9 is elegant, luxurious and supremely comfortable. Its cabin is hand-trimmed in beautiful, natural materials – primarily wood and leather – and incorporates the latest in modern technology without resorting to superfluous controls or displays. There is a minimum of distraction – even the satellite navigation screen folds discreetly away when not in use.
Every element of the interior, which has been revised for 2008, is hand-made and hand-finished, from the cutting of the leather to the carefully crafted wood. This is done not out of deference to tradition, but because a skilled craftsman can finish wood or leather to a far higher standard than any machine. The leather is particularly soft and supple, as you would expect of Aston Martin, and is used throughout the cabin.
The wood trims are inspired by hand-finished modern furniture and there is a choice of five: Walnut, Mahogany, Bamboo, Tamo Ash and Piano Black. In every case, ‘single-piece' cuts are used, rather than tiny strips or thin appliqués. Crafting such large pieces of wood is only possible when done by hand.
The use of aluminium on the dashboard, instrument panel, centre console and door handles reflects the aluminium structure that underpins the entire car. The finish is stylish and contemporary, yet the material itself is steeped in automotive tradition.
The DB9 has exceptional equipment levels, as one would expect in a high-performance sports car with GT levels of comfort and refinement.
The driver's first interaction with the V12 engine rests in the dashboard with the clear glass starter button. Únlike most car starter buttons which are plastic the glass adds class to the cabin inviting the driver with a deep red glow to start the engine.
A great deal of effort has been put into ensuring that the DB9 is stable at high speed and has excellent front-to-rear lift balance. Aerodynamic performance was tuned using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), at Volvo's studios in Sweden. This is one of the most advanced and effective ways of ensuring good drag figures and excellent stability.
Aston Martin also used England's Cranfield Úniversity's state-of-the-art 40 percent model wind tunnel, which is widely used for motorsport.
Just as much effort was put into the underside, as the top side. A full undertray reduces lift and drag, and wheel arches are carefully profiled to allow for good airflow. Even the exhaust silencer has been shaped to be as aerodynamic as possible.
The designers of the DB9 balanced beauty with aerodynamic performance. Sharp corners and chiselled profiles can reduce Cd figures, but can also lead to bland and unsightly styling. Pushing wheels out to each corner, in the Aston Martin tradition, improves stability and handling but also means 'Coke bottle' curves down the car's sides, which can have an effect on the Cd figure. The DB9's drag coefficient is 0.35, similar to that of the Vanquish S. TECHNOLOGY
The DB9 is one of the most sophisticated 2+2 sports cars available in the world today.
The Aston Martin engineers' goal was to make a beautiful, distinctive car that was also outstandingly nimble and fast, and a car that was a worthy successor to the DB7 – one of the most significant Aston Martins in history.
In every case, technology is used to make the car better and to make the driving experience more enjoyable. In most cases, the technology is invisible, always there, always helpful, never intrusive.
In a long list of technological innovations, the most important is the bonded aluminium frame. Aston Martin believes it is the most structurally efficient body frame in the car industry. The Aston Martin VH (Vertical Horizontal) aluminium architecture gives immense benefits. It is very light, aiding performance, handling, economy and durability. It is also enormously strong. Despite being 25 percent lighter than the DB7 bodyshell, the DB9 structure has more than double the torsional rigidity.
This is the car's backbone, the skeleton to which all the mechanical components are either directly or indirectly mounted. Drawing on the experience and technology originally pioneered in the Vanquish, the DB9's frame is made entirely from aluminium. Die-cast, extruded and stamped aluminium components are bonded using immensely strong adhesives, supplemented by mechanical fixing using self-piercing rivets.
'It is far superior to the conventional steel saloon-based floorpan often used by high-volume brands,' says Aston Martin DB9 Chief Programme Engineer David King.
'The torsional rigidity of a car is a key factor in driving enjoyment and good handling. Any flexibility of the body compromises the performance of the suspension, delays vehicle response and corrupts feedback to the driver.'
The frame is made in aluminium and the body panels are then fitted, again using adhesives, in the advanced body assembly area at Aston Martin's Gaydon facility. This adhesive is applied by a robot - the only one at Aston Martin. Computer controlled hot-air curing ensures the highest standards of accuracy and repeatability.
The bonding has enormously high stiffness, so that shakes and rattles are obliterated. Bonding also has excellent durability offering better stress distribution than welding - which is more prone to crack. The process is also used in the aircraft industry and Formula One.
There are also advances in the welding procedure. On the DB9, the upper and lower C-pillars are joined by advanced ultrasonic welding. It works by using a vibrating probe, called a sonotrode, which oscillates at 20,000 Hz. This high frequency of vibration agitates the molecules of the two aluminium panels to be joined, allowing them to form a molecular bond.
Because the bond takes place at a molecular level, it is 90 percent stronger than a conventional spot weld. It also requires only five percent of the energy of conventional welding, and as it generates no heat, there is no contamination or change in the characteristics or dimensions of the metal. Aston Martin is the first car company in the world to use this technique.
In addition to the aluminium frame, other lightweight or high-technology materials are used extensively. The bonnet, roof and rear wings are aluminium. The front wings and bootlid are composite. Cast aluminium is used in the windscreen surround, another industry first. Magnesium alloy, which is even lighter than aluminium, is used in the steering column assembly and inner door frames. The driveshaft is made from carbon fibre. It is part of the torque tube that rigidly connects the front engine to the rear gearbox. This arrangement helps the DB9 achieve perfect 50:50 weight distribution, further improving handling.
The DB9 uses all-round independent double-wishbone suspension. As the body frame is brand new, the chassis designers were able to start from scratch - rather than be forced to develop a suspension for an adapted saloon car platform. The front suspension is mounted on a cast aluminium subframe. At the rear, another subframe carries the rear suspension as well as the rear transaxle. Forged aluminium wishbones are used front and rear, as are aluminium-bodied dampers. This is rare, even on top-end sports and GT cars.
The steering rack is mounted ahead of the front wheels, which provides better control under extreme steering loads and heavy braking. Magnesium alloy is used in the construction of the steering column. Even the wheels have been specially designed to save weight. The 19-inch alloys are made using flow forming rather than casting. This saves about 1kg per wheel, benefiting unsprung mass, overall vehicle weight, and reducing rotational inertia. The tyres have been specially developed by Bridgestone.
On a 180+mph performance car, superb brakes are essential. The large discs (355mm front, 330mm rear) are ventilated and grooved, rather than cross-drilled.
'Grooving is more efficient than cross drilling,' says David King. 'The pads are kept cleaner and work more effectively. Also, brake pad dust can block cross-drilled discs, which reduces braking performance.'
The calipers are made from a single casting, rather than being fabricated in two halves and then bolted together. This increases strength and rigidity and gives superior braking performance at high speeds.
'This project was such a pleasure to work on,' comments King. 'We really could start from scratch in just about every area which rarely happens in the car business. We were not fighting compromises, such as having to adapt a saloon car component into a sports car.'
Braking is improved by Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which is computer controlled to optimise the front-to-rear brake balance, and by Brake Assist - in which the car's electronics detect when the driver wants to emergency brake and automatically applies maximum braking force, cutting stopping distance. There is also the latest anti-lock (ABS) system, which prevents the car skidding or sliding out of control.
LED tail lamps improve rear lighting performance and also react quicker - in braking, for example - than conventional incandescent bulbs. Their design in the DB9 is novel: the tail and brake lamps project through a reflector, which disperses the rays more evenly, further improving lighting performance. This also gets rid of the little 'hot spots' that make up most LED tail lamps. Rather than a series of clearly visible dots, the light is one solid block.
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is standard. DSC is an advanced electronic control system that continually analyses wheel speeds, steering angle and yaw rate. It reduces the risk of skids by automatically applying braking to individual wheels, or reducing engine torque.
The DB9's entire electrical architecture is state-of-the-art, the result of a partnership with Volvo, which uses multiplex electrical systems in its product range. 'It's a very advanced system, allowing every module on the car to talk to every other module.'
The air conditioning and climate control system is one of the most compact and efficient units in production.
The instrument pack is particularly attractive and innovative and all dials are made from aluminium.
Microperforations allow the warning lights to illuminate through the aluminium. The rev counter runs anti-clockwise to maximise the visible area for the central electronic display, in the main instrument cluster. It's also a nice reminder of earlier Aston Martin models such as the Atom and the DB2.
There is no conventional red line on the tachometer. A red warning symbol will be displayed when maximum revs are reached but - thanks to the high-tech electronics - the 'red line' varies, depending on the engine's mileage, how recently the engine has been started, and ambient temperature.
The electronic message displays in the main instrument cluster, and in the centre console, are organic electroluminescent displays (OEL). This is another car industry first.
There are many benefits to OELs compared with conventional LCDs, including higher resolution and greater contrast, and improved clarity, particularly when viewed from an angle.
The in-car entertainment (ICE) system is state of the art. It has been developed by Scottish-based Hi Fi experts Linn, and includes its own amplifier and speakers that are specially designed for the DB9. It also benefits from the DB9's high-quality fibre optic electronics, which pass signals with total clarity. The top-of-the-range 950W Linn Hi Fi system uses 10 speakers and a 200W sub-woofer controlled by an in-built accelerometer that even compensates for changes of pressure in the car's interior.
Aston Martin wanted to make the DB9 one of the safest sports cars in the world. For this, as with the electrical architecture, Aston Martin's engineers turned to Volvo for assistance.
'Volvo is renowned as the automotive safety leader,' says David King. 'It was the perfect partner to assist in delivering the DB9's outstanding safety performance.
'This car was developed in-house, by Aston Martin's small but highly skilled engineering team,' says King. 'Yet there were some areas where it made sense to draw on the expertise of members of the Premier Automotive Group.
'Safety is one example. We are very fortunate to have Volvo as a partner. This partnership has given us access to the latest safety technologies, best-practice design guidelines and advanced computer aided engineering.'
All crash testing was done by Volvo in its state-of-the-art safety centre in Sweden. The VH architecture was designed to provide a supremely robust passenger cell that cocoons its occupants. The cell is protected at the front and rear by extruded aluminium crumple zones. Dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, and seat-mounted side airbags, offer further protection, as do seat belt pretensioners.
'When you're attempting to build the world's greatest 2+2 sports car - and that's certainly the goal for the DB9 - there really is no substitute for a V12,' says Aston Martin's Chief Powertrain Engineer Brian Fitzsimons. 'Aston Martin's V12 is acknowledged as one of the best in the world, so was a very good starting point.'
The engine is developed from the V12 used in the Vanquish. The advanced quad-cam 48-valve engine has been designed by Aston Martin engineers in partnership with Ford's RVT (Research and Vehicle Technology), and is unique to Aston Martin.
The crankshaft is new, as are the camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, the lubrication system and engine management. The result is more low-down torque and a more seamless power delivery. The maximum power increased in 2008 by 20bhp to 470bhp with the maximum torque rising to 443lb.ft. Even more impressive, 80 percent of that maximum torque is available at only 1500rpm.
'This car will overtake in any gear, at any revs, more or less any time. It really is that good,' says Brian.
Comparing the Vanquish's engine to that of the DB9, Fitzsimons comments: 'The Vanquish offers more ultimate performance, the DB9 has more torque over a wider rev range,' says Brian.
In the new DB9, the V12 - which is a significant 11.8kgs (26lb) lighter than the Vanquish V12 - has been fitted as far back and as low as possible, to assist agility and handling. This helps the DB9 achieve its perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
Engine note is also very important to the driving experience. 'The Aston V12 engine has been described as having the best sound in the world,' says Brian . 'We spent a great deal of time getting the 'music' of the DB9 just right.'
The DB9 is fitted with a rear transaxle to help achieve the ideal 50:50 weight distribution. The front mid-mounted engine is connected to the rear gearbox by a cast aluminium torque tube, inside is a carbon fibre drive shaft. The use of carbon fibre prevents any flex and ensures low rotational inertia, improving response and cutting both noise and vibration.
Two transmissions are offered: a 'Touchtonic 2' six-speed automatic gearbox and a new six-speed Graziano manual gearbox. The automatic used in the Aston Martin DB9 is particularly innovative. The DB9 is one of the first cars in the world to use a shift-by-wire automatic gearchange. The conventional PRNDL gear lever has been replaced by a system of buttons that select park, reverse, drive or neutral.
'It's easy to use and gets rid of the clutter associated with the automatic gear lever on the centre console,' says David King.
Those choosing the 'Touchtonic 2' automatic can drive the car in full auto mode, or can change gear manually using the paddle shifts. The paddles are made from lightweight magnesium and are directly behind the steering wheel, at the ten-to-two position. They allow instant Touchtronic gearchanging.
A great deal of time has been spent ensuring that the new Graziano manual gearbox has a smooth and fast shift action. 'It is one of the best manual gearchanges in the world,' says David King. 'Driving enjoyment is a very important quality of the DB9, and part of this is a superb gear change action.'
The manual uses a twin-plate clutch, compared with the DB7 Vantage's single plate unit. It is more compact, has lower rotational inertia and is more robust. The clutch effort is also reduced.
The 'swan wing' doors are unique and have become one of the car's trademarks. They open out and up (by 12 degrees) making for easier access, especially for the driver's feet into the footwell. This also improves clearance for the driver's (or passenger's) head between side glass and roof, further easing access. The 12-degree angle also means there is less chance of the doors scuffing high pavements. As they are angled, the doors are easier to close: they shut under their own weight, rather than relying on the driver having to slam them. Beyond 20 degrees opening angle, there is also infinite door checking. This means that the door will stop and hold at whatever position the driver (or passenger) chooses.
The door handles feature LEDs that illuminate when the car is unlocked, allowing the handles to be located easily in the dark. The exterior handles lie flush with the door, to improve appearance and aerodynamics.
The DB9 has enjoyed thorough testing programme. Ninety-three prototypes were built and tested in locations as diverse as Nardo in Italy, Death Valley in the ÚSA, and inside the Arctic Circle in Sweden, as well as in laboratories around the world.
As well as using the Cranfield Úniversity'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.
Producing the DB9 in small volumes allows us to retain our handcrafting skills, it also allows Aston Martin to use bespoke engineering solutions, such as the bonded aluminium structure and the aluminium instrument pack and the Linn ICE system. This is not possible in mass production.
Dr Úlrich Bez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin said: 'We're confident that it is the finest 2+2 sports car in the world, and will continue the Aston Martin success story that is one of the highlights of the British motor industry in recent years.'
'The DB9 has been designed as a sports car but with GT levels of comfort and cruising ability,' says Dr Bez. 'It is aimed at people who love driving but also enjoy exclusivity and style.
'It is the perfect vehicle to take you from London to the south of France, or to drive for the sheer exhilaration. It is fun and very focused on the driving experience, but also offers all the comforts you would expect from an Aston Martin grand tourer. 'This car is new from the ground up. We made sure that every solution was the correct one for the DB9. This is important for a car that we believe will lead the 2+2 seater sports car class for many years to come.' The DB9 manages to combine all facets of style, quality and useability of a traditional Aston Martin without relying on retrospective detail or design. It is a totally modern Aston Martin.Source - Aston Martin