First Drive: Aston Vanquish Volante
“It doesn’t matter whether the roof is up or down, this is one of the best-looking cars on the road today..."
No need to ask what this is, it's the...
New Aston Martin Vanquish Volante, right. It replaces the existing DBS Volante and so sits at the head of the convertible Aston range above the similar-sized DB9 Volante and the smaller Vantage Roadster. As is the way with Astons, even though the look is unmistakably a product of Gaydon's finest, there are loads of little and not so little details that have been changed for the latest car.
Such as the 5.9-litre V12 engine which now produces 565bhp, up from the 510bhp of the open-topped DBS. The carbon fibre bodyshell that now clothes the VH4 chassis which together make the Vanquish Volante an appreciable 14 per cent stiffer, for more controlled and accurate ride and handling. And the slightly lower positioned drivetrain which, along with the new 51/49 front/rear weight distribution, makes the car more wieldy.
To go with the new performance and handling, the cabin features all the latest Vanquish updates, including the haptic-feedback centre dash and redesigned instrument panel. The view forward is now less obstructed thanks to the windscreen running all the way to the lip of the roof rail.
And the roof itself?
The roof is a fabric three-ply sandwich number that can install and hide itself in less than 15 seconds while the car is moving at up to 48kph. There are no latches to fiddle with. Just push a button and it's there, or press it again and it's banished. Whether it's up or down doesn't affect the boot space, which is now 50 per cent greater, at 279 litres, if that means anything to you.
Visually, the Vanquish Volante dumps on every other open-topped Aston thanks in part to its achingly perfect rear aero duct. This has been incorporated into the car's curves in such an organic way, it looks like it just grew there overnight. It doesn't matter whether the roof is up or down, this is one of the best-looking cars on the road today.
But how does it drive?
Very well, but couldn't be anything other than an Aston. The engine makes all the right noises - particularly when in Sport mode - and is never anything less than enthusiastic. The handling is secure and safe - not as wafty as a Bentley Continental GT Speed, nor as pointy as a Lamborghini Aventador - but it gels perfectly with the rest of the car. The DBS's marked body flex has been quelled to the occasional minor shudder. And there are six instead of the latest eight gears in the traditional auto box, which also relaxes the proceedings.
If you want to drive quickly it'll play along for as long as you need to, so you'll always catch your plane if you're late. But its natural pace feels more like an enthusiastic canter than a flat-out gallop. Which is just as it should be in a large convertible Aston like this. As you sit quite low in the car, the wind blast with the roof down is never unpleasantly raucous or rowdy. With the roof up it's as hushed and calm as a mill pond.
Should you buy one?
If you want the very latest, fastest GT car you can buy, probably not. You should focus your thoughts in the direction of the Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster. But if you should you have money burning a hole in your undoubtedly bespoke pocket and the need for a new set of wheels with a distinctively British flavour - or just want to know that you are buying one of the best-looking cars you can buy - absolutely.
5,935cc, 12cyl, RWD, 565bhp, 620Nm, 0-96kph 4.1secs, 294kph, 1,844kg