It wasn’t so long ago that an overhauled version of an existing model — a little more power here, slightly sharper dynamics there — would have been the highlight of Aston’s year. Things are very different today.
The brilliant new Vantage is still only a few weeks old, the Valkyrie hypercar is well on its way, the DBS Superleggera is just around the corner and a new mid-engined supercar to rival the Ferrari 488 GTB is in development.
There is much more besides, too — all of which qualifies Aston as one of the most active performance car makers on the planet right now. In among all of that noise, this DB11 AMR isn’t much more than a whispering voice.
That doesn’t mean Aston has hurried it through, however. Quite the opposite. This has been a considered and attentive development process that has paid dividends. The DB11 AMR is such a night-and-day improvement over the original V12 that you can’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for owners of those early cars.
For one thing, the slightly patchy interior quality that afflicted many of those first-batch DB11s has been put right. The cabin is now as solid and well finished as it always should have been. Even more significantly, the car now drives the way it always should have done, too.
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 has gone through the roof.
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 30bhp, but you’ll be very well aware of how rampantly accelerative the car is. The V12 has power and torque everywhere.
It’s the noise that gets you, though. Turbochargers have a habit of muffling an engine’s soundtrack like a sock stuffed into a tenor’s mouth, but somehow Aston has teased a rich and musical soundtrack from the DB11 AMR’s exhausts.
For all that this car is a huge step forward over the previous version, however, it 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 with every mile.
There is also the not-so-small matter of the DB11 AMR’s weight; it’s around 100kg heavier than the V8 model. 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.
But everywhere else, it should be said, the V12 car disguises its mass very well indeed.