The Aston Martin DB11 is already a fine car. For loping across your native country with your significant other and a boot full of luggage, it is certainly one of the finest GT cars around. However, in this writer’s opinion, there have been a couple of issues with it.

Firstly, the DB11 was rather soft and, dare I say, a bit too GT esque, and secondly, the entry level V8, which happens to be $30,000NZ less expensive, is a better all-rounder as far as packages go. The thing is, this writer is probably not alone in thinking this, because Aston Martin have gone two steps further to separate the V12 from the V8 in the line-up. Enter the $355,000NZ DB11 AMR, the Grand Tourer with attitude the DB11 V12 always should have been.

So, AMR then? Well, in Aston speak, these three initials stand for Aston Martin Racing, a name given to race inspired go-faster Aston’s of recent years, a dead giveaway the DB11 AMR is more than a long-legged ground coverer. The AMR also officially replaces the standard DB11 V12 in the range, so think of the new car as a DB11 MK2. However, the updates which earned this Aston its new qualifications, go beyond a few letters after the name.

Under the bonnet, the 5.2-litre twin turbo V12 made in conjunction with AMG, gets 22kW more than the outgoing DB11 V12, bringing total power output to 470kW, which in the old money, means 640hp. Peak torque is rated at a hefty 700Nm as per the standard car. This kind of grunt brings the DB11 AMR slightly under the flagship DBS Superleggera, which produces 530kW and 900Nm of torque respectively.

Putting the power to pavement via those handsome 20-inch forged alloy wheels, is Aston’s slick eight-speed-automatic gearbox, which is a real peach on the move. The national limit of 100km/h is reached from a standstill in 3.7 seconds, which is pretty darn brisk in anyone’s language. Sure, you will be doing 11.4L/100km, which is hardly sipping away at the AMR’s choice of premium beverage, but that is not why you bought one is it?

The AMR also benefits from a larger front anti roll bar, the rear suspension has been re-tuned to give a sportier feel, the dampers front and rear have also been revised for the same reason, and that torrent of 12-cylinder symphonic bliss emanating through those blasting twin pipes is even louder.

Now, every time Marek Reichman is involved with anything related to Aston Martin design, you can bet your bottom dollar it is going to be a looker, such is the case with the DB11 AMR. Sure, the standard car wasn’t exactly unattractive to begin with, but the addition of sporty details here and there gives the AMR a real stance.

Carbon fibre vents, mirrors and a carbon roof all do their bit for saving weight, but also look the business. These vents channel air from front to rear, making the aerodynamics of the AMR as slippery as possible. Come around to that svelte rear and Aston’s “aeroblade” can be seen. This tiny spoiler is raised minutely at speeds above 80km/h to expel the air taken in by vents in the rear three quarter. Aston say this effect works the same as a jet engine propelling you along.

Inside, we get more of the same DB11 goodness as before, and then some. I loved the details like the optional Q carbon fibre steering wheel, and lashings of leather, alcantara, and lime green roof detailing. You do get all the fruit as before, but the Mercedes switchgear and infotainment screen feel a tad out of place in a car which costs in excess of $350k. Sure, it is very responsive and will do the job of working the nav, Bluetooth etc, but it just doesn’t feel bespoke enough for the AMR.

However, from the moment you climb inside, the sublimity of the cabin feel is rather nice indeed, from the stitching, to the lashings of leather and carbon fibre. With a high transmission tunnel and hip hugging leather chairs, you do feel rather cocooned by your surroundings. In fact, the driving position as a whole is nigh on perfect. Though, the lack of a glovebox is odd.

Like all 2+2 coupes, the rear seats are really only good for lugging extra bits and bobs. With 270L of cargo space at the rear, the AMR can still accommodate enough for you and your significant other’s grand tour, though be sure to pack moderately. Talking of touring, let’s get into it.

Press down on the centre mounted Aston Martin starter button, and your immediate surroundings are engulfed with that aforementioned symphonic bliss. Blip the throttle and that bark becomes and bellow. This is amplified considerably when selecting sport mode. As per the Vantage, you can fiddle about with the damping and engine modes by press the two buttons on either side of the wheel, with three modes, GT, Sport and Sport Plus available for each. So, you could leave the dampers in GT and the engine in Sport Plus if you wanted, or even the other way around. Though one would wonder as to why.

Moving off, and rear three-quarter vision is average at best. Looking in either side view mirror, and you notice the AMR’s beautiful hips before you notice traffic behind you. With a wheelbase of 2802mm, and 4739mm from nose to tail, the DB11 is certainly no point and shoot sports car. That said, around town, the AMR, despite its sportier pretensions and feeling bigger than it actually is, manages to be quite easy to manoeuvre and doesn’t feel daunting by any means. Turning circle is a bit wide and rear vision as a whole is decent, but once you give the AMR some stick, you are going to spend most of your time with your eyes glued to the road ahead.

Leaving the city and into the great wide open, the AMR is still up there with the best GT cars around. With the engine and dampers in GT mode, and that mammoth turbo V12 sitting on a snip under 2,000rpm at 100km/h, the AMR can eat up the miles without breaking a sweat. This is nothing new as far as the DB11 goes, it was always one of the grandest of grand tourers, but when the highways turn into flowing twisting country B roads, the AMR tweaks make themselves known.

The AMR is not as pin sharp and aggressive as the Vantage, or as blisteringly rapid as the DBS, but for a GT car, its definitely no barge. When you select Sport mode, you can carry a great deal of speed into each bend, with little effort required to coax it into the corner. Look ahead, plant boot and that pronounced conk rises ever so slightly, allowing you to ride a wave of glorious noise and make use of that 700Nm of torque. Plus, when you lift off, the crackling of the exhaust booming like a far-off battlefield is utter joy.

Switch the dampers and engine into Sport Plus, and the AMR gets serious. Those mods to the chassis and the suspension, not to mention the extra noise and grunt, makes it live and supple, allowing you to charge out of bends and not feel like its beyond your control. Steering weights up beautifully and standing on the anchors mean you come to a dead stop in quick succession.

However, don’t think for a moment the AMR is a no nonsense balls out B road blaster, because it isn’t, its appeal is significantly more dignified. It was never about rearranging your fillings with acceleration or pushing you to achieve 2g in every bend, its about getting to your destination and having a bit of fun along the way.

After a day in its company, this writer can say the AMR treatment is just what the DB11 has needed for some time, though the Vantage is a better sports car, and the DBS is balls out Jekkyl and Hyde mix of supercar and GT. The DB11 is has suffered from middle child syndrome for too long. However, the AMR package turns the DB11 V12 from a fine tourer, into a seriously desirable package.

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