Well more exposure tends to compress the shoulder and place more of the image higher up the curve. You don't need super dense negatives to get good prints but, and wholly dependent on subject matter, good exposure with adequate shadows always helps.
If you're attempting to make APX look punchy and contrasty it simply isn't that kind of film. It's emphasis is on midtone tonality. Sure it can have some contrast but it won't be Tri-X or Neopan.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.