GRR

First drive: Aston Martin DB11 AMR

06th June 2018
Chris Knapman

If Aston Martin’s recent form is anything to go by this new DB11 AMR should be something very special indeed. It takes over from the current V12 as the flagship of the DB11 line-up, which also makes it arguably the most desirable Aston Martin money can buy until the arrival of the DBS Superleggera later this year.

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Its development came about following the launch of the DB11 V8 in 2017, which is not only more affordable than the original V12, but also just about as fast and, according to some, even better to drive on account of its superior chassis tune.

No surprises then that the first job for the team behind the AMR (that’s Aston Martin Racing, which serves as Aston’s sub-division tasked with teasing even more performance from its cars) was to apply the lessons learnt when developing the V8’s ride and handling to the V12. So that’s stiffer bushes for the rear subframe, forged rather than cast alloy wheels to save weight, 10 per cent stiffer damping, new engine mounts and a thicker front anti-roll bar. Aston hasn’t, however, changed the spring rates because it wants the V12 to retain the feeling of being a GT car.

The engine meanwhile gains an additional 30hp to take the total to 637hp. Torque is unchanged at 700NM delivered from just 1,500rpm, which feels every bit as ludicrous as it sounds. It’s enough, indeed, to propel the 1,870kg DB11 AMR from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds (an improvement of two tenths on the outgoing V12), while the top speed is 208mph (up 8mph on before).

That’s not only enough to put clear air between it and the DB11 V8, but also ensures it eclipses the new Bentley Continental GT in most of the key metrics. Where it can’t match the Bentley is in having four-wheel drive, although that could be considered as a pro or a con depending how you like your super-GT car to drive.

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Mind you, given its rear-wheel-drive configuration it is amazing just how well the DB11 AMR puts its power to the road, in the dry at least. Emerging from a hairpin in second gear with your foot to the floor gives one long lunge of acceleration with not so much as a flash of interaction from the traction control. Goodness is it fast too, with the kind of big, gutsy, breathtaking performance that anything other than a twin-turbo V12 would struggle to match, complemented by an even more dramatic voice than before courtesy of an upgraded exhaust.

That said, it would be misleading to pretend the straight-line performance is night and day compared with the outgoing DB11 V12, because that car is also breathtakingly fast. Where the AMR moves things on is by packaging the firepower into a car that feels more able to let you make the most of it. The changes are subtle but add up to a more sure-footed feel which, in a machine as big, powerful and expensive as this, can only ever be welcome. All the while the DB11 remains supremely comfortable and refined over long distances, with a level of quality to the ride and interior that show Aston can complete with the best in the business.

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As a result of the changes (which include aesthetic improvements inside and out) the price of the DB11 V12 has increased by £17,000, which also means there’s now what Aston might regard as a healthier £31,000 gap between the ‘entry-level’ DB11 V8 and this AMR. Whether it’s that much better is arguably a moot point, because you’ll either want to spend the extra to have the flagship or you won’t.

What matters is that both DB11s truly are very special in their own respective ways. That might be a predictable conclusion, but let it not detract from just what fine form Aston Martin continues to demonstrate – and of that we should all be glad.

The numbers:

Engine: 5.2-litre V12 turbo

Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Hp/Nm: 639/700

0-62mph: 3.7sec

Top speed: 208mph

Price from: £174,995

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  • DB11

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