There’s a phenomenon in the Italian Dolomites that has been the cause of intrigue and mystery for thousands of years: Enrosadira. At both dawn and dusk, when the sun lies low in the sky, the mountains become awash with a violet glow so vibrant the peaks look as if they’re alight. When you then add a liberal coating of fresh snow to the scene, you experience a vision so magnificent it physically surprises you. And when you witness all of this through the windscreen of the Aston Martin DB11 AMR as you brake hard into another hairpin on a seemingly endless mountain pass, it is beyond spectacular. Yet this realm exists, somewhere on an unnamed road in the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites near Cortina d’Ampezzo in Northern Italy.
My journey begins in Munich during a heavy snowstorm. As I approach the car, I’m reminded once again of the DB11’s exquisite exterior design; a sweeping mass of aluminium and carbon fibre so feline in nature it looks ready to pounce. The exclusive AMR Signature Edition livery on the one before me, which is limited to just 100 models, features a Stirling Green base colour with Lime Essence pinstriping; a nod to the factory racing team that inspires it. Stepping inside, Aston Martin’s fastidious attention to detail is witnessed immediately; dark knight leather with lime detailing and satin carbon fibre trim screams performance. I depress the brake pedal, hit the starter button and eagerly listen as the twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 roars to life. An auspicious growl from the twin exhausts; I can already tell the journey across Germany, Austria and into Italy is going to be exceptional.
Although it may be the middle of winter, the temperature a cool -6°C and the air filled with a drifting mass of snow, the AMR feels like the perfect vehicle to be driving deep in the mountains. Yes, its 630bhp may seem excessive in such conditions, but when I do reach Innsbruck, Austria, and begin to climb high into the mountains, its 700Nm torque remains firmly glued to the road thanks to the new Bridgestone Blizzark LM001 winter tyres. Needless to say, I’m rather happy about this. Bridgestone was the officially selected project partner for the DB11 back in 2016 with its Potenza S007 sports tyres. Since then, it has been working closely with the team at Gaydon to ensure the performance and durability of its tyres continue to evolve at the same rate as the machines themselves. The AMR receives a 30bhp increase on the outgoing DB11 V12, and a whopping 127bhp on its V8-engined sibling, proffering a top speed of 208mph and a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds, making it one of the fastest GTs on the roads today.
“Since its initial launch back in 2016, the DB11 range has matured rapidly and intelligently, selling close to 4,200 V12 examples in that period,” says Aston Martin President and Group CEO, Dr Andy Palmer. “By applying a suite of carefully considered performance and styling enhancements, the DB11 AMR is both faster and more precise.” Indeed, switching into Sports and Sports+ modes on the mountain roads, I feel the precision immediately; a vehicle weighing in at almost two tons should not handle this well and it’s all thanks to the dynamics team, headed up by Chief Engineer Matt Becker. In this way, the suppleness of the handling remains when in GT mode, but becomes the sporty alter ego you want it to be when shifted into one of the sports settings. As Palmer attests: “It’s a combination that engages and cossets in equal measure. The AMR is a dynamic and seductive new flagship for the DB11 range.”
My journey into the mountains continues. From Innsbruck, I drive up through the Brenner Pass that cuts through the mountains separating Austria from Italy and the Alps from the Dolomites. The peaks that once lay heavy with snow are now just dusted with a scattering of frost — it’s incredible that the conditions can change this dramatically. The AMR purrs happily as I continue for some time along the lone road that passes through the lowlands between these two mighty mountain ranges. Craning my neck, I see the endless sea of jagged peaks that make up the Dolomites rise uninterrupted towards the sky.
With a downshift and a splutter from the exhaust pipes, I start my final ascent into the mountains. Passing through Drei Zinnen Nature Park, the snow appears once again and within minutes lies piled high beside the road. There are few moments that one finds themselves in an Aston Martin in the middle of the mountains in such wintery conditions, so I stop to gaze over the DB11 AMR. Exposed carbon fibre, dark headlight surrounds, smoked tail lamps, black front grille and a black roof look so very menacing against this white backdrop. And the entirety of its Stirling Green exterior is sprayed with the residue of dirty mountain roads; a look that makes it appear even more striking.
As I continue further through the Dolomites, the Enrosadira on the peaks slowly gives way to unrelenting darkness. Yet in the distance, the twinkling lights of the Olympia delle Tofane Downhill ski course above Cortina d’Ampezzo beckon me forth. Nestled in the Ampezzo Valley, Cortina has long been regarded as one of the most spectacular locations in the Dolomites. Much like St Moritz in Switzerland, Cortina became a mecca for the British elite in the late 19th century, offering an exclusive winter escape for the then-emerging skiing public. As I approach in the DB11 AMR, I know I’m in not altogether unfamiliar territory. Cortina’s main growth happened in 1956 when it hosted the Winter Olympics, showcasing it to the world as a location of significant skiing standard. And skiing is why I have driven through the mountains in the middle of winter. In support of Bridgestone, one of the sponsors of the FIS Ski World Cup, I am here to witness the second ladies’ Downhill event of the season.
Driving into Cortina, there’s an immediate nod to its illustriousness. Although it has a population of just 6,000, it boasts three museums; most notably the Mario Rimoldi Modern Art Museum, which is home to over 800 works by Italian artists. Beside it sits the Basilica Minore dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo church, built in the mid-18th century and featuring the frescoes of Luigi Ghedina. The town has also played a prominent role in modern culture, famously frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow and the pianist Dino Ciani, and was the location of such films as The Pink Panther and For Your Eyes Only. Cinematic musings complete, I arrive at the opulent Grand Hotel Savoia and hand the key over to the valet. Stealing one final glance at the DB11 AMR, I smile in awe. As the new flagship of the DB11 range, AMR is surely here to stay.