25 February 2009

Drop goal

The Bond car goes convertible as Aston DBS Volante heads to Geneva…

Aston Martin DBS Volante

More pictures of the Aston Martin DBS Volante

“Ah, Mr Bond. I’ve been expecting you. But what the bloody hell is going on with your hair?”

That’s the obligatory Aston-Bond reference out the way, then. An apposite one in this case, though, because these are the first pictures of the DBS Volante, the convertible version of Aston’s toughest road car set to be formally unveiled in Geneva next week. The Bond car, in other words, has lost its roof.

On one level, this is a bit confusing. Like the Ferrari 430 Scuderia Spider we saw last year, why do you go to all the effort of creating a stiffer, sharper coupe… and then ruin the rigidity by cutting the roof off it?

On another level – quite a big level, in fact – it’s going to be ace, isn’t it? A 510bhp, six-litre V12 blaring away in front of you, fluffy clouds skipping above your head, an Eastern European beauty with a highly euphemistic name in the passenger seat…

We’re getting carried away. Let’s have some numbers. That big V12 – unchanged from the DBS Coupe and feeding the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox – will haul the Volante to 60mph in 4.3 seconds, exactly the same as the hard-top despite an extra 90kg of weight, with a top speed of 191mph.

It should handle, too. Thanks to a new six-point rear subframe, the DBS Volante is 25 per cent stiffer than the wafty DB9 Volante (though 25 per cent less stiff than the DBS Coupe), and features a revised adaptive damper system which allows the driver to select from five settings ranging from ‘Ouch that’s firm’ to ‘Mmm, that’s better’. Those may not be the official names.

The DBS Volante’s fabric roof – which contains Thinsulate, that insulating fabric usually found lining the jackets of men who possess hiking boots and emergency whistles – will retract in just 14 seconds at speeds up to 30mph.

But let’s be honest here: unless you’re caught in an apocalyse-spec hailstorm, you’re going to drive absolutely everywhere with the roof down, just to hear that amazing engine note.

So long as you’ve got £170,000 or so to spare, that is. That’s what we’re expecting the DBS Volante to cost when it goes on sale in the UK this summer. Comb and gentleman’s hair wax not included.

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