Aston Martin DB11 AMR 2018 review

What is it?

The DB11’s life so far has been short but busy. It debuted in 2016, offered in V12 guise only, but the cheaper, slightly less powerful V8 model arrived soon after and the drop-top Volante fleshed out the range earlier this year. Now, after just two short years on sale, the DB11 V12 has been retired.

Worry not. Aston Martin is replacing it with the DB11 AMR, the fastest, most driver-focused DB11 yet. Naturally, it uses the familiar 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12, which is now good for 630bhp. That’s a 30bhp gain over the departed DB11 V12 and 127bhp more than the eight-cylinder model can manage. The new car doesn’t stop accelerating until 208mph, while 0-62mph takes 3.7sec.

The chassis has been tweaked, too. It now incorporates many of the improvements that were introduced for the V8 model. There are stiffer suspension bushes to help locate the rear axle more securely, but the spring rates are unchanged. Aston doesn’t want to nibble away at the DB11’s GT character, after all.

The dampers, however, have been revalved so that they offer tighter body control and sharper responses. An ever-so-slightly thicker front anti-roll bar balances those revisions front to rear, while the wheels are now forged, saving 3.5kg of unsprung weight at each corner.

AMR stands for Aston Martin Racing — the marque’s World Endurance Championship squad — and, since 2017, it has been used to mark out the fastest, sportiest models in Aston’s line-up. A very small number of DB11 AMRs — just 100 worldwide — will be sold in Signature Edition trim, which adds a searing lime-coloured body stripe and equally bright accents throughout the interior. The Signature Edition model sells for £201,995.

Series DB11 AMRs come in a range of rather more sober colour schemes and cost £174,995. The darker headlight cowls, gloss black detailing and more extensive carbonfibre trim are there to distinguish the DB11 AMR from the model it supersedes.

What’s it like?

It wasn’t so long ago that an overhauled version of an existing model — a little more power here, slightly sharper dynamics there — would have been the highlight of Aston’s year. Things are very different today.

The brilliant new Vantage is still only a few weeks old, the Valkyrie hypercar is well on its way, the DBS Superleggera is just around the corner and a new mid-engined supercar to rival the Ferrari 488 GTB is in development.

There is much more besides, too — all of which qualifies Aston as one of the most active performance car makers on the planet right now. In among all of that noise, this DB11 AMR isn’t much more than a whispering voice.

That doesn’t mean Aston has hurried it through, however. Quite the opposite. This has been a considered and attentive development process that has paid dividends. The DB11 AMR is such a night-and-day improvement over the original V12 that you can’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for owners of those early cars.

For one thing, the slightly patchy interior quality that afflicted many of those first-batch DB11s has been put right. The cabin is now as solid and well finished as it always should have been. Even more significantly, the car now drives the way it always should have done, too.

Gone is the harsh, hollow quality to the damping; the new version is beautifully suspended. Its ride may be tight and firmly controlled, but even on very bumpy roads there is enough composure in the damping that it never gets uncomfortable. Body control has been improved, too.

With the rear axle now better located, thanks to those stiffer bushes, and with less ill-tempered squirming from the rear end over bumps in the road surface, traction has gone through the roof.

Dig into the throttle pedal in second gear and you won’t hear so much as a chirrup from the rear tyres. All told, the DB11 AMR is sharper and more responsive than the old model without being any less cosseting on a longer drive.

What about the engine? You probably won’t notice the extra 30bhp, but you’ll be very well aware of how rampantly accelerative the car is. The V12 has power and torque everywhere.

It’s the noise that gets you, though. Turbochargers have a habit of muffling an engine’s soundtrack like a sock stuffed into a tenor’s mouth, but somehow Aston has teased a rich and musical soundtrack from the DB11 AMR’s exhausts.

For all that this car is a huge step forward over the previous version, however, it isn’t perfect. There is an unholy alliance of precise-but-remote steering, forward visibility that is compromised by a high scuttle and a long bonnet, and the simply vast footprint that means the DB11 AMR is not the sort of car you can jump into and drive quickly right away. You have to build up to it, allowing your confidence to grow with every mile.

There is also the not-so-small matter of the DB11 AMR’s weight; it’s around 100kg heavier than the V8 model. You’ll feel it when you really chuck the car into a tight corner and it struggles to hold a line that the lighter model would happily stick to.

But everywhere else, it should be said, the V12 car disguises its mass very well indeed.

Should I buy one?

For the past eight months, the pick of the DB11 range has been the entry-level V8 model. It is sharper and more rewarding to drive than the old V12, without being a great deal less accelerative.

Now, however, there is nothing between the two models but £30,000 and 127bhp.

Aston Martin DB11 AMR specification

Where Nürburg, Germany Price £174,995; On sale now; EngineTwin-turbocharged V12, 5204cc, petrol; Power 630bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 516lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox Eight-speed automatic; Kerb weight 1870kg; Top speed 208mph; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Fuel economy 24.8mpg; CO2 265g/km; Rivals Bentley Continental GT, Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

 

www.autocar.co.uk