The 2019 Bentley Continental we drove a little while ago is new from the ground up, including the 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12, now producing 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. The new Continental weighs 4,947 pounds and can go 207 mph. Lo and behold, a few weeks ago along comes Aston Martin unleashing its new DB11 AMR. Its 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 boasts 630 hp and 516 lb-ft. The AMR weighs 4,133 pounds and can go 208 mph.
AMR, or Aston Martin Racing, is to Aston what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz and M is to BMW. When Aston launched AMR at the 2017 Geneva show, boss Andy Palmer said every car the company builds is eventually going to have an AMR version.
The DB11 AMR will replace the standard DB11 as the new range flagship. The AMR’s horsepower is up 30 on the DB11 V12 and 127 more than the V8-powered DB11. The AMR hits 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and the 208-mph top speed makes it the fastest production Aston. For now. Meanwhile, the suspension is tuned for more “connection without harming the ride,” according to Aston. In other words, make it handle better than a DB11 but not at the ride quality’s expense. Additionally, the eight-speed automatic’s calibration is quicker and Aston modified the DB11’s active exhaust for what it says is a “more vocal” note in sport and sport-plus mode.
No doubt about it, the AMR is gorgeous to look at, all low and bulgy with exposed carbon fiber and black trim distinguishing it from garden-variety DB11s. Brightwork — headlamp surrounds, tail lamps, front grille — are dark monochrome, while the roof is gloss black and the hood blades and side strakes are carbon fiber.
The interior is gorgeous, too: Aston has really upped its quality game inside. It looks far more modern than the old DB9s, with monotone leathers, faux-leather upholstery, all high quality and beautifully stitched together. Here’s just one example: Remember that goofy cheap-looking little screen that flipped up on the dash? It looked bolted on, and not very well. It’s gone. Another little screen is in its place, this one sourced from Mercedes — it owns 5 percent of Aston. This new screen is stationary, and looks and feels like it is meant to be there. Even the door handles feel good — robust.
Last October, West Coast editor Mark Vaughn drove the V8-powered DB11, traitorously claiming he’s “always secretly preferred the V8s over the V12s.” Yeah, right. He pointed out the V8-powered DB11 is “lighter and more agile.” Blahblahblah.
He asked, “Who really needs all 12 cylinders?”
I do, that’s who: There’s really nothing able to delight the senses as a good old-fashioned V12. Its unique vibrations and sounds and just gobs of torque are addicting. In the AMR, there’s plenty of oomph from the get-go, of course, no turbo lag whatsoever — just a strong, creamy response, with the eight-speed ZF auto transaxle shifting smoothly and quickly.
I spent a day driving the AMR on German two-lanes and freeways near the Nurburgring. It’s a fast but forgiving GT. The ride feels fine no matter the mode, though I prefer the middle sport setting. To me it offers the best combination of a fine ride with a near zero body roll in corners. Sport-plus makes the car feel a bit too twitchy, too edgy. Keep in mind, this is a big grand tourer, not a sports car (though with 626 hp it can be a hooligan if you want). Even this racier AMR model is meant to travel tremendous distances in no time, not necessarily carve up Laguna Seca — though that would be fun, too. The suspension lets the car float a tiny bit but not too much. The Aston really shines on fast, gently curving roads, as one would expect. That’s where its athleticism is most fluid and where I can best take advantage of the glorious engine. It even has cylinder deactivation, though I never feel it.
About that “more vocal” exhaust note: It’s sensational. Fire up the engine and immediately the V12 settles into a rich, rumbling idle, playing the nice guy as I cruise slowly through the small towns. As the revs and speeds quickly build, it’s sounding more and more angry, beautifully so. Between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm seems the sweet spot for the best, most intense shrieks, crackling and popping in sport and sport-plus.
I really look forward to the upcoming Vanquish replacement, the DBS Superleggera (I love the name). It has a historically significant bloodline and promises to be a lighter, more powerful Vanquish. Something like 700 hp is rumored! It should be a blast to drive. It’s out toward the end of the year.
Until then, though, the DB11 AMR is my favorite Aston. I would jump in and drive it anywhere, anytime, long distances or short. It’s not often I come away from driving a $200,000-plus car and think “yeah, it’s worth it.” This is one of those times. High praise indeed.
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $241,000
Powertrain: 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12, 8-speed automatic, RWD
Output: 630 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 516 lb-ft @ 1,500
Curb Weight: 4,133 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.5 sec
Fuel Economy: 17/33/24 mpg (European cycle)(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Gorgeous inside and out
Cons: OK, the back seats are small. There, I picked one