Used Aston Martin DB9 2004-2016 review

Aston Martin DB9
DB9 matched the emotion of a Ferrari but adds practicality and offers an experience unmatched for versatility and appeal

If you want a V12 Aston Martin DB9 for the price of an average-mileage Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, look no further than the used market.Obviously they couldn’t be more different and, as a sage once said, buy a DB9 cheap, pay twice.Still, almost twice as powerful, three times as many cylinders, over a second quicker to 60mph and looks that will give you neck ache from turning back to admire it. As 2030 looms and new V12s drink in the last-chance saloon, a cheap DB9 is stupidly tempting – running costs aside, of course.The 2+2 GT was launched in 2004 and bowed out in 2016, so even the youngest ones are quite old. It was the first Aston to be built at the company’s new Gaydon works.In terms of modern manufacturing equipment and processes, the plant was a world away from Aston’s Bloxham factory, where the DB7, the DB9’s predecessor, had been built. Unfortunately, these advantages weren’t immediately felt.Safety recalls for the new model were almost in double figures, and it wasn’t until 2006 that its electrical system, a major source of criticism, was upgraded. Also at this time, the front seats were redesigned and a Sport Pack was added to the already extensive options list.Further improvements followed in 2009 when the DB9 gained more power (up from 450bhp to 470bhp), better-riding Bilstein dampers and a redesigned centre console.Two years later, the Sport Pack Plus was introduced, with adaptive damping.The DB9 was again refreshed for 2013 when power rose higher still to 510bhp, the body was made lighter and stiffer and three-mode adaptive damping was added. In a last hurrah, the DB9 GT arrived in 2015 with 540bhp, black detailing and Aston’s new, touch-sensitive infotainment system.Throughout the DB9’s life, buyers could choose between a six-speed ZF Touchtronic automatic with column-mounted paddles and a fruity blip accompanying downchanges or a beefy six-speed manual gearbox. An early automatic is fine, and in 2009 the improved Touchtronic 2 system arrived. The DB9 is certainly no track car, but that manual gearbox does add a welcome level of engagement. Better still, although there are very few manual DB9s around, they cost about the same as the autos.The DB9 Volante convertible arrived a few months after the coupé. It has a stiffened chassis, slightly softer suspension and a fabric roof that takes around 17 seconds to fold. Today, it’s outnumbered roughly two to one by the coupé and, like for like, costs around £6000 more.Some DB9 buyers went overboard with options. Today, condition, service history and provenance matter more than baubles and silly colours. The only exception we would make is the 2006 Sport Pack. It sharpens the handling and makes the DB9 that bit more involving.Cramped in the front as well as in the rear and with pretty woeful ergonomics, a DB9 is a deeply flawed creature. However, you bought it for that badge, those looks and that engine – and, rain or shine, they will never disappoint.Aston Martin DB9 common problemsEngine: It’s strong but can suffer from corrosion around the cylinder liner seal area. This is easily found by looking at the weepage holes along the side of the block.Check for timing cover seal failure, too. Listen for a noisy valve train and check the oil level, because DB9s get through around 250ml every 1000 miles. Interrogate any warning lights with an Aston Martin fault reader.Gearbox: The Touchtronic auto is a reliable ’box, but make sure the changes are smooth. Also check for leaks around the gearbox oil cooler system and that the 2009 recall concerning Park mode – on some cars it didn’t engage properly – has been actioned. Another recall concerned the gearbox defaulting to neutral. On manual cars, the clutch will only last around 20,000 miles.Steering and suspension: The DB9’s steering system has been the subject of three recalls, including one concerning incorrectly torqued front subframe bolts. Again, check they have been actioned. Other recalls concerned the rear subframe bushes and anti-roll bar bushes. The model is heavy, at 1760kg, and that strains bushes, springs and even wheels. Wishbone bolts can seize, which becomes a problem when adjusting the geometry.Brakes: When engaged, the handbrake is floppy and can fool drivers into believing it has been released, resulting in scorched pads.Chassis and body: Made from bonded aluminium and composites, it is strong and light but expensive to repair and paint and prone to corroding around the door handles and panel edges (look for bubbling). The nose is prone to stone chips; many owners have it painted.Interior: Recalls again: the heated seats can overheat and even burn out, so check they have had the necessary modification. Electric window issues are usually due to faulty frame rubbers. Check for tears in the leather and headlining.Service history: Rows of service stamps are fine, but you really want to see invoices to find out exactly what has been done.
Source: Autocar

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