2019 Aston Martin DB11 AMR Review

A Paragon of Good Taste, Now with More Drama

Spotting a white circular road sign cleaved by a series of diagonal lines is one of the greatest joys for any car enthusiast.

These sporadically placed placards are an unambiguous indication that the shackles of constraint have been cast aside, that your right foot has been given carte blanche. They’re also a reminder that you’re blessed with the privilege of driving on what is perhaps the world’s greatest highway system, and that you’ve just entered a zone with no speed restrictions.

The Autobahn in Germany is more than just an exemplar of national infrastructure, it’s a piece of art on an industrial scale. Fastidiously maintained and populated by motorists that follow the rules nearly to a fault, it is the perfect place to exercise metal like the new Aston Martin DB11 AMR. I was more than eager to evaluate this car in the Eifel region of western Germany on the roads AROUND but not ON the Nürburgring. Maybe next time I’ll get a lap or two on die grüne Hölle.

   

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Not New, But Plenty Improved

A thoroughbred grand-tourer, this high-performance coupe accelerates effortlessly, hurtled along by a large-displacement twin-turbocharged V12 that delivers a seemingly endless supply of forward thrust along with jet-turbine smoothness. Without concern, I instinctively buried the accelerator and took my steed up to an indicated 225 km/h (140 miles per hour) for a few moments, as the road was clear and weather perfect. At this pace – and no doubt well beyond – it remained bedrock stable and surprisingly quiet, aside from my manic chortling. Rapid acceleration has a way of going to your head.

Riding shotgun for this drive was Matt Becker, the vehicle’s chief engineer, who explained that they tuned the DB11 to feel confident at frightening velocities by dialing back its responses slightly. Indeed, their work was noticeable, as the car was unperturbed.

I pined for even more speed, but regrettably only a sliver of the day’s drive program was allocated to ‘Bahn-blitzing, so my high-speed fun was over a few scant moments after it began as I signaled to change lanes, snaking between a pair of heavy trucks dawdling in the slow lane so I didn’t miss the next exit, which directed us back onto snaking country roads.

ALSO SEE: 2019 Aston Martin Vantage Review

For now, the AMR serves as the de-facto flagship of the DB11 range, superseding the “standard” 12-cylinder variant. Benefitting from knowledge gained during the development of the V8 model, this car has been tweaked in numerous ways to make it feel more alive.

For starters, the rear subframe bushings are starchier by about 10 percent, an alteration that helps the car’s turn-in response. Dampers at all four corners have been made stiffer, though the spring rates remain the same because, after all, this is still a GT car and it needs at least a degree of comfort. Still, Becker explained these tweaks help provide a more central roll axis, which makes the car feel like it’s changing direction as a unit, rather than both ends being out of sync. The front stabilizer bar’s diameter has also been increased by half a millimeter to further liven the steering up.

This car’s aft-mounted eight-speed automatic transmission benefits from new calibration, while an engine snubber has been incorporated to better constrain the powertrain’s lateral movement, which helps the car feel more linear in its responses since that considerable mass isn’t shifting around so much.

As for the engine, it’s still a jewel, silken and sonorous, making me lust after other powerplants with a dozen cylinders. No hardware changes have been made, but updated software makes it 30 horses stronger, bringing the total to 630. Torque remains unchanged at 516 foot-pounds since the gearbox can’t handle more. The upcoming DBS variant of the DB11 will feature around 700 horsepower and significantly more twist. Accordingly, it will gain an updated transmission with more torque capacity

ALSO SEE: 2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8 Review

But perhaps the AMR’s most dramatic improvement over the outgoing DB11 V12 is the reworked exhaust, which provides even more symphonic internal-combustion music along with additional burbles and pops, especially in the sportiest drivetrain setting. Passersby in village after village would immediately stop whatever they were doing and stare, mouths agape as we cruised past at the speed limit, its exhaust system broadcasting a motorsports tune even at low rpm. When an Aston Martin drives by, it’s something of an event.

Back-Road Hoonage and Other Details

Navigating the secondary roads of Rheinland-Pfalz, the DB11 proved to be a willing accomplice, scything through corners with vigor, never wanting for power when the tarmac unwound. On straight sections, the car can whisk you from a standstill to 60 miles an hour in about 3.5 seconds, a reduction of 0.2 compared to the outgoing V12 DB11, plenty of vigor to get you in heaps of trouble. Top speed has also been increased to 208 miles an hour (335 km/h), a heady pace and one I failed to reach, which is probably for the better.

And if you’re driving with a modicum of restraint, this top-shelf grand-tourer is reasonably economical. In ‘Murican figures, the DB11 AMR should return 15 miles per gallon in city use and 21 on the highway. Expect it to average 17 mpg in mixed motoring.

Dressed in subtle but stunning China Grey paint, the example I tested was also gussied up with a laundry list of add-ons including special leather trim, a sport steering wheel, automatic parking assist, lime green-colored brake calipers, unique rims and more. But as you’d expect, even base DB11 AMRs come with plenty of standard goodies, things like 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels, a headliner trimmed with Alcantara and an eight-inch central screen with an integrated navigation system. About all that’s lacking is an external trunk release, an annoying omission, and a glovebox, whose absence is at times equally bothersome. Lime-green stitching and accents also added a touch of visual flair to the luxurious but otherwise quite dark interior.

The Verdict: 2019 Aston Martin DB11 AMR Review

Aston Martin has taken an already great automobile and made it even better. As beautiful as ever, the 2019 Aston Martin DB11 AMR is faster, nicer to drive and a touch more dramatic than before, precisely what most people expect from a car of this caliber. Perfectly at home on winding back-country roads or blasting down the Autobahn on a cross-country drive, this latest DB11 truly puts the GRAND in grand tourer.

Base price in the U.S. is $244,086 including $3,086 for delivery. If your garage needs filling, it’s on sale right now.

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