A very british coupe

10 min read

Has Aston Martin finally succeeded in its mission to match Italy’s suave GTs? Matt Saunders introduces the new DB12 to a Ferrari and a Maserati


There’s some debate about exactly who invented the grand touring coupé but very little about where, in national terms, it happened. The popular response to the question of what the first and defining example was is the 1951 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT (extra credit if you reel off the whole lot in a mockney twang, like Paul Whitehouse in his grocer’s apron). It could have been the 1948 Ferrari 166 Inter, though, or the 1947 Maserati A6 – or something pre-war, even. Wherever the credit eventually comes to rest, however, the gran turismo was definitely given life and then popularised in Italy.

And rather regrettably, it might have just been slaughtered in Warwickshire. That’s because, as far as Aston Martin is concerned, the grand tourer concept, although fine for the likes of its own DB5, Mercedes-Benz’s 300 SL, Jaguar’s E-Type and Ferrari’s Daytona, just isn’t ‘grand’ enough to effectively describe its new DB12. We’re to call this a super tourer, apparently.

Luckily, we can now leave Aston’s marketing spiel far behind, because this widely updated coupé is about to test its worth by becoming the British beef in an Italian panino sandwich.

On one flank is the brand-new Maserati Granturismo Trofeo, on test here in left-hand-drive form but due to arrive in the UK very soon in right-hand drive. On the other is the car that its DB11 predecessor could never quite topple: the painfully pretty, wonderfully agile and demonstrative Ferrari Roma. Whatever you want from a GT, be it beauty, elegance, pedigree, pace, luxury, touring practicality, excitement, noise or just the most worshipful status in the golf club car park, you will find it here.

Our chilly, foggy, sodden test day in the North Pennines is hardly Lago di Como in the spring, but it has nonetheless taken us a long time to get here. We have come in the modern heirs of a line of luxury cars that so famously have had and done it all. Big engines, big performance, aerodynamic bodies and formidable long-distance touring capabilities. A comfortable, sophisticated, assured yet supple ride and fine high-speed stability to match the thoroughbred handling poise. Inviting, lavish and practical cabins made to feel like exclusive, enveloping bubbles of luxury. And all of that delivered within bodies of peerless elegance and world-class style.

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