- Distinctive AMR styling
- Spine-tingling performance
- Deals with daily duties comfortably
- Much improved build quality and refinement compared to predecessors
I was privileged to be given a sneak peek of Aston Martin’s DB11 prior to its official unveiling.
Like others in that darkened room at Aston Martin’s Warwickshire headquarters at the time, I was suitably impressed when the covers came off.
Here was a car that was every bit an Aston Martin but stunning, fresh and daringly different at the same time.
It had individuality and modernity combined with sleek and sultry curves and a sense of timeless elegance.
It represented a huge investment in Aston Martin’s future, at the vanguard of CEO Andy Palmer’s ambitious Second Century Plan.
It was the first vehicle to be based on a new aluminium platform to replace the firm’s ageing VH platform. It also represented the revival of the famous DB name.
My involvement with the DB11 continued by seeing the first model roll off the Gaydon production line.
However, I had not had previously had the opportunity to drive one.
It proved worth the wait, as I was able to get behind the wheel of not just any old DB11, but the most potent version of the model to date – the AMR.
Powertrains and Driving Experience
Announced in May 2018 as the flagship model of the DB11 range (AMR stands for Aston Martin Racing) it saw the introduction of a new 5.2-litre V12 engine with power increased by 30bhp over the old V12 model it replaced.
It means the DB11 AMR produces 630bhp, takes just 3.7 seconds to complete the 0 to 62mph sprint and can reach a top speed of 208mph.
The AMR sits above the 4.0-litre V8 and its 5.2-litre unit aims to take things up not just a notch or two above that (it has an additional 127bhp).
It has a top speed which is 8mph faster than the old V12, will accelerate from a standing start to 62mph 0.2 seconds quicker, and the extra 30bhp delivers enough of a kick to make a real difference.
Then there is its engine note, which is joyous in any of its three different settings. It is at its best when going under a railway bridge, or better still a tunnel, with the windows open.
The AMR offers three different driving modes - GT, Sport and Sport+ - and three suspension settings.
The simplicity of their operation and switching between them is again an example of just how superior current Aston Martins are compared to the previous generation.
The GT mode could be described as an everyday one, but it is much more than that. If you did not have Sport and Sport+ you would not really miss them.
However, rather like those Spinal Tap guitar amplifiers that went up to 11, if you have the capability to do something, you just have to do it.
In truth, you are unlikely to want to go beyond Sport mode for most UK motoring - even when an open stretch of winding B road beckons on a clear and dry summer’s day.
As one would expect, the DB11 AMR handles sublimely. There is so much grip that even when you experiment with the sportier driving modes, it feels remarkably composed and assured.
The advantage of multi-link rear suspension does much to deliver that, but despite the engineering enhancements this Aston has not been softened to the point where it no longer feels thrilling and exciting to drive.
Design and Practicality
From the outside, the AMR is a vehicle of beauty and style, and as the flagship DB11, it is set apart by features such as forged alloys, carbon fibre, and gloss black detailing.
And on the inside, it also has an ambience that is instantly appealing.
Extensive use of Alcantara and dark chrome, plus AMR embossing and embroidery help to create an exclusive yet welcoming environment.
Any shortcomings with Aston Martin models of old, where perhaps surprisingly there were odd elements of corner-cutting, have been well and truly banished.
Unlike the old DB9, the DB11 has real aspirations as a grand tourer and while it does not look like there is much room in the rear seats, there is actually a surprising amount of space. I managed to accommodate two adult passengers with relative ease.
As a driver it is very easy to get comfortable in the DB11, it is not long before you feel like it has been specially moulded around your individual frame.
But ultimately it is a car that is about performance and breathtaking performance at that.
Equipment and Technology
Luxury and sheer excellence in terms of quality are more evident, from the leather trim to the switchgear and instrumentation, and most noticeably in the on-board technology.
A lot of that is down to the use of Mercedes-Benz equipment and tech and while Mercedes-Benz’ adapted Command Online system is instantly recognisable, given it is one of the best there is means it is easy to welcome in the classy cabin of an Aston Martin.
It is hugely intuitive and easy to use, controlled by either a touch-sensitive trackpad or rotary wheel.
There are some familiar Aston features, most notably the automatic gear selector buttons on the centre stack. The old manual handbrake has been replaced by an automatic, electronic one.
There are options a plenty to make your vehicle even more special, including a carbon-fibre engine cover, exhaust tips and a deployable spoiler, a carbon-fibre sports steering wheel and paddleshifts and tailored luggage sets.
The DB11 AMR is one of the world’s quickest GT cars and also manages to be one of the most distinctive and appealing. Its bold, recognisable styling and much-improved build quality ensure it is more than ready for everyday life and summer road trips, where its raw ability can be enjoyed to its max.