Aston Martin DB11 AMR
The story so far
Unspeakably handsome V12 GT joins us for six months
+ Gorgeous; vaguely practical; sensationally fast; tweaked chassis over original V12 DB11
– Expensive; expensive to run; so big and so valuable you can get panicky and paranoid in rush-hour traffic
Price £178,495 (£209,350 as tested)
Performance 5204cc twin-turbo V12, 630bhp, 3.7sec 0-62mph, 208mph
Efficiency 24.8mpg (official), 19.1mpg (tested)
Energy cost 31p per mile
Miles this month 615
Total miles 3192
The old adage that you bought a Ferrari for its engine and got the rest of the car free is equally applicable to Aston Martin, with Gaydon the Maranello of the Midlands. You can have the DB11 with a V8 in the nose, and I hear it’s really rather good, but if there’s even a faint chance anyone might compare your numbers with those of Ferrari’s raging 812 Superfast, you’re going to need all the engine you can lay your hands on.
The AMR’s V12 is good for 630bhp, but for the first weeks of our time with the car the loud pedal didn’t make it anywhere near the limit of its travel – there just wasn’t the grip. On picking the car up from Gaydon, I spent some time talking to development engineer Matt Becker about tyres, mainly summers or winters. The latter are handy when you’ve one driven axle, more power than a star’s incandescent core and snow on the ground, but the rest of the time they numb the experience like driving in oven gloves. So, we’re on summer Pirellis. They’re magnificent, but slimy roads and single-digit temperatures have meant we’ve spent much of our time well south of 4000rpm, working the 5.2’s torque.
It’s at these revs that we find a clash of philosophies between Aston and Ferrari. Maranello isn’t a big fan of torque. The 812 doesn’t have any, relatively speaking, and even Ferrari’s V8s are torque-limited at lower revs, to try to make the F8 Tributo’s turbo motor feel as rev-hungry and exciting as the old non-turbo 458’s.
Not Aston. ‘Why turbos? Mainly, pressure-charging brings you a lot more torque a lot lower in the rev range,’ former Aston CTO Ian Minards told me of the DB11’s development. ‘People buy power and drive torque, and the DB11’s twin-turbo V12 had to drive like an Aston Martin engine; like there’s a hand behind the car thrusting you forward.’
That is a good account of how it feels. In February’s friction-free slime the Aston executed countless stealth overtakes using just a fraction of its might, the revs barely off tickover but the clean traction, equally clean throttle response and the engine’s sheer grunt enough to glide effortlessly past slower traffic.
But who wants to use a fraction of a V12’s might? The hours last summer when I merrily tucked into all that the then-new DBS Superleggera Volante’s engine could give on hot, dry Spanish roads were beginning to feel like a long, long time ago.
But now the roads have dried, the gritters stopped making a corrosive mess and, when I chase the dog breathlessly through the woods under the very flattering auspices of ‘going for a run’, the forest floor is emerald green and tangy with the smell of wild garlic. And the AMR and I have now been to the redline a couple of times, wide open: scenes of jubilation. The noise, the serene savagery; truly this engine feels every inch the rare – and growing rarer – privilege that it is.
Front-hinged bonned a nice nod to yesteryear
The AMR and I have now been to the redline a couple of times: scenes of jubilation