A stunning location fit for the world’s first super tourer; that is, indelibly, how our journey in Aston Martin’s new DB12 began, at the gorgeous The Maybourne Riviera dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Today, we’re bringing you along the south of France, soaking in breathtaking views of sky and sea along the picturesque coastline with Monaco to the west and Italy to the east.
Here, the DB12 strikes a splendiferous picture of athleticism and elegance, juxtaposed against the striking modernist architecture of the chic new hotel to grace the Côte d’Azur.
It is Aston Martin’s 110th anniversary this year, and the British marque is clearly revelling in both the spirit of the Riviera and the 75th anniversary celebrations of its illustrious DB range. The DB12 marks the dawn of a new era under the stewardship of Canadian billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll; its first model was developed during this new chapter in the brand’s story.
We set off for the infamous Route Napoléon, driving south along the French Riviera en route to Cannes. Our first stop is coffee in the medieval town of Mougins, known for its rich cultural and culinary heritage and frequented by notable figures in history like Pablo Picasso, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent.
With its sinuous silhouette and graceful profile, the two-door super tourer certainly turns heads as it snakes through the narrow stone alleys of the charming little French village, which, incidentally, boasts the most Michelin-starred restaurants in France.
We continue on through Grasse, best known as the perfume capital of the world and the birthplace of the iconic Chanel N°5.
Our inspired journey then takes us onto the Route Napoléon, a historic passage that marked the start of The Hundred Days. The passage is where Napoléon and his men marched from Elba to Grenoble — a momentous event in history that ended in Napoléon’s crushing defeat in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.It is here on this 325km-long route, widely regarded as one of the best drives in all of France, that the DB12 truly comes alive.
The sophisticated tourer transforms into a fierce, high-performance contender as it kicks into gear on open-road driving at the upper limits. Her exhaust opens up, unleashing the full splendour of the 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo hand-built powertrain; the front-mid-engine delivering 680 PS (671 bhp) at 6000 rpm and 800 Nm of torque between 2750 rpm to 6000 rpm, marking a 34 per cent increase compared with the outgoing DB11. With such potent power flowing like honey on tap, the DB12 is unapologetic in its prodigious pace. An altogether sublime ride in all drive modes.
She flies down straights brilliantly and cruises exquisitely in GT mode. Switch to Sport or Sport+ mode and the rear-wheel drive ramps up responsiveness, agility, and precision when aggressively attacking an apex at high-speed corners.
She bites harder into the tarmac, particularly when cornering, thanks to immense front-end grip, tightened body control, and tremendous traction assisted by shorter gear changes on its automatic ZF 8-speed transmission. The result is a feeling of total confidence, control, and composure behind the wheel, at any speed. Floor the pedal to the metal, and you’ll hit the century dash in a blistering 3.5 seconds, with top speed on the DB12 coming in at a thumping 325 kmh.
Nothing fires up the appetite quite like putting a high-performance car through such punishing paces, and so we break for lunch somewhere in the hills mid-way through our journey.
It turns out the cheeky folks at Aston Martin had a fine surprise up their sleeves for us: Not one, but two multi-starred British celebrity chefs, the likes of Chris Baber and Elliott Grover. The chefs were specially flown in to prepare a Michelin-worthy three-course meal with the finest local ingredients for us on-site at La Bastide Des Pins, a traditional Provencal house remotely situated in the countryside.
Fuelled up and ready for the rubber to hit the road once again, we make our way back towards The Maybourne Riviera, revelling in more of those spectacular views of the ravishing Riviera.