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Visiting spooky Salem in the devilish Aston Martin DB11

Pras Subramanian

When the leaves turn, the night arrives sooner, and the Jack-o’-lanterns come out, it’s time for a drive to an old, eerie town like Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., or Salem, Mass. — where Halloween is serious business.

Credit: Pras Subramanian

Salem’s history is a sordid one. One of the first towns colonized by the Pilgrims in the 1600s, Salem’s  ‘Witch Trials’ of 1692 and 1693 are notorious. More than 200 people were accused of witchcraft, dubbed the “Devil’s magic,” and 20 were apparently executed at the stake.

Credit: Wikipedia (public domain image)

Over 300 years later, the town of Salem still remembers — and embraces — its spooky history. So when the opportunity came to visit friends in Salem, during a chilly fall weekend, I could think of no better time to test the devilish-looking Aston Martin DB11 parked in my garage.

Credit: Pras Subramanian

The DB11 is basically an replacement for the DB9, and it is all new for 2017. The new design is stunning, but you’ll still recognize it as an Aston with that long sleek front and wide haunches at the rear. The design includes a few flourishes, like new roof “strakes” that separate the body from the roof, and the “Aeroblade” intakes in the front strakes. These touches add a new dimension to the Aston, bringing its design into the future while still keeping its heritage.

Under the ‘bonnett,’ as the Brits call it, there’s a slight tweak. The engine is still a glorious V-12, but this time it’s of the twin-turbo variety, pumping out 600 hp. This is the first turbo-charged series-production vehicle for Aston Martin. Although turbo-charged, there is no lag at all, and the power comes in strong and linearly. It feels like a naturally-aspirated engine (and sounds like one), but doesn’t suffer from the usual problems like lower torque and the need for higher revs.

Credit: Pras Subramanian

Inside, you won’t feel like you are in an Aston Martin. Aston’s interiors have looked dated for some time. Yes, they are awash in supple leather, but the look and design palate, as well as the ‘tech’ (if you want to call it that) have long been outmoded. Now, we have leather stitched in geometric shapes and concentric circles, giving the cabin an organic, yet futuristic feel.

Credit: Pras Subramanian

The tech has also been vastly improved, with a center-mounted display with up-to-date controls for the sound system (Bang & Olufsen, of course) and driving dynamics. The binnacle has been replaced with a “virtual” one. Usually, I like to have gauges of the non-digital variety, but Aston has done a great job with these gauge clusters, with indications and markings that change depending on the driving mode selected. 

Credit: Aston Martin

Push the engine’s start button and you hear a high-cranked whir, followed by deep throated roar — the engine lets you know, “Yes, you’re inside an Aston Martin.” It truly is a sound to behold.

The look and feel of the DB11

On the way up to Salem, the DB11 handled with aplomb. Road manners were solid and steering input was precise, albeit it a bit numb. Blame the electronics here, but, it was still very spirited, and comfortable ride.

On the road you only need to keep your foot slightly depressed on the gas pedal for the the car to charge forward. God help you if you decide to mash the accelerator as you will be pushed back into your seat with force. With 600 horsepower on tap, you will be jostled if you get overzealous.

Credit: Pras Subramanian

The looks of this car are beautiful, but at the same time sinister. Yes, it looks evil, but the kind of evil one could quickly get accustomed too. The dark silver with the two-tone black roof ‘strakes’ on the DB11 that we tested made it look dangerous and sexy.

Driving around the old town of Salem in the rain, this car felt like it was in its natural home, quite fitting for a car from the United Kingdom. Sun and beautiful weather, who needs it when you have the DB11 carving through the wind and gliding across cobblestone-lined streets?

Credit: Pras Subramanian

The men and women of Salem, most of whom festooned in some manner of witch or Goth attire with a splash of steampunk mixed in, were themselves stunned by the looks of the DB11. Everything from thumbs up, to long pointed fingers and possibly the evil eye were thrown our way. “Is that James Bond coming to town to surveil a criminal mastermind, or Batman out for vengeance?” With the curves and front end of this metallic soul-reaver, it may have been hard to say.

Credit: Pras Subramanian

For those with the disposable income to splash out more than $250,000 on a new car (or toy really), the DB11 is a choice that won’t disappoint. But one has to ask: What about the everyday practicality and good looks of a McLaren 570GT or the bonkers looks and performance of the Lamborghini Huracan RWD? If only we had this decision to make in the morning. Perhaps, it is one for James Bond or Bruce Wayne.

Credit: Pras Subramanian

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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