There’s a crackling rush from the 2019 Aston Martin DB11 AMR’s 630-hp V-12 engine as it hurtles from corner to corner like a glossy, art-deco bullet. In supplanting the previous non-AMR DB11 V-12 coupe, the addition of the Aston Martin Racing suffix to this sleek two-plus-two’s name denotes its status as the new zenith of the DB11 lineup, a designation the British brand intends to affix to the top of each of its model lines going forward. But the AMR is no brazen track-day warrior—such distinction is reserved for Aston’s even-further-fortified AMR Pro moniker that won’t be applied to the DB11—but rather a graceful tornado of style and speed, infused with just enough racing fumes for one-percenters to feel a bit more special for splurging on its top-dollar billing.
Without driving the AMR back to back with a 2018 DB11 V-12 coupe, it’s difficult to discern the improvements brought by the new car’s modest chassis updates, which encompass revised tuning for the three-stage adaptive dampers, a slightly stiffer rear anti-roll bar, and firmer engine mounts and bushings for the rear suspension and subframe. Matt Becker, Aston’s chief engineer and ride-and-handling guru, describes them as lending a sharper, more connected feel by stiffening the back end of the car, yet without infringing upon the DB11’s unflappable poise as a high-speed grand tourer.
The smooth roads of northern Germany, which bear little resemblance to the heavily potholed thoroughfares of the Midwest, also tempered our gluteal sensors on our first go with the new car. But the DB11 AMR was resolutely composed pretty much everywhere it went. Corners are greeted with pleasantly firm and progressive brake feel, and grip levels are communicated via light tugs from the precise and fluidly weighted helm. The car’s considerable size never strays far from mind, but it feels as lithe and controllable as could be expected of a roughly 4200-pound rear-driver endowed with this much power.
The suspension’s firmness is selected via a toggle on the left spoke of the steering wheel. Regardless of the mode, there’s a tautness to the AMR’s responses as it rockets in and out of first-gear switchbacks, but it’s also relaxed enough to allow the chassis to assuredly flow over narrow, rolling two-lanes at near-triple-digit speeds. Even with the dampers cranked to their firmest state, the DB11 AMR never warrants the descriptor “harsh.” On derestricted sections of the autobahn, the effortlessness with which the AMR can cruise at 150 mph allows its front-seat occupants to unwind in the firm but not overly supportive chairs for long stretches at a time.
It’s also a bit tough to notice the AMR’s revised engine calibration, which frees an additional 30 horsepower over the previous V-12 DB11—its 630 horses arrive at the same 6500 rpm, with torque staying put at 516 lb-ft from just 1500 revs. There’s simply massive amounts of shove on tap at all times. Lag from the twin-turbo 5.2-liter V-12 is virtually nonexistent, and power builds with a satisfying linearity up to the 7000-rpm redline. Bury your right foot into the carpet and the AMR pulls with an almost electric fervor, and it can easily overwhelm its 295/35ZR-20 rear tires on frisky corner exits without feeling uncouth.
Far more important is the finessing of the AMR’s active exhaust system, which, when fully uncorked, rocks a rich, melodious tune that belies the two compressors muffling the engine’s exhaust pulses. It’s less the smooth, high-pitched wail of classical V-12s and more a crisp, guttural growl, with loud pops and crackles on the overrun that can not only be heard but also felt inside the cabin yet never sound forced or synthesized. (The only acoustic helper is a sound tube piped through the firewall from the engine bay.) Think Jimmy Page accompanying the London Symphony Orchestra.