The DB11’s life so far has been short, but busy. It made its debut 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.
It uses the familiar 5.2-litre twin- turbo V12, now good for 470kW. That’s a 23kW gain over the departed DB11 V12 and 95kW more than the eight-cylinder model possesses.
The chassis has been tweaked too. There are stiffer suspension bushes to help locate the rear axle more securely, but the spring rates are unchanged. 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.
An early limited-run batch of 100 DB11 AMRs will be sold worldwide in Signature Edition trim, which adds a searing lime-coloured body stripe and equally bright accents inside.
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The series DB11 AMR is offered in a range of rather more sober colour schemes and it costs $428,000.
Garish brake calipers or not, the DB11 AMR is a huge improvement over the outgoing model. For one thing, the slightly patchy interior quality that afflicted many of those first-batch DB11s has been put right.
Even more significantly, though, the car now drives the way it always should have. 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 is significantly better. 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 23kW, but you’ll be very well aware of how rampantly accelerative the car is.
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The V12 has power and torque everywhere. It’s the noise that gets you, though. Turbochargers normally muffle an engine’s soundtrack like a sock stuffed into a tenor’s mouth, but somehow Aston Martin has teased a rich and musical soundtrack from the DB11 AMR’s exhausts.
Yet the car certainly 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.
There is also the not-so-small matter of the AMR’s weight. It’s around 100kg heavier than the DB11 V8. 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.
Ever since the DB11 V8, the V12 model has been outpointed and outshone. Now, however, there is nothing between the two models but $60K and 95kW.
2018 ASTON MARTIN DB11 AMR SPECS:
Engine: 5204cc V12, DOHC, 48v, twin-turbo
Power: 470kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 1500-5000rpm
0-100km/h: 3.7sec (claimed)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Like: V12 gains grunt to match its status, better sound from the exhaust, sharper dynamics
Dislike: Remote steering, compromised forward vision, proportions, it’s heavy, not cheap