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Car Review

Aston Martin DB12 Volante review

£199,500
810
Published: 15 Apr 2024
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Aston at its best. And possibly the best Aston. A classic, elegant GT you no longer have to make excuses for inside and on the road

Good stuff

The beauty, the power, material quality, sumptuous blend of comfort and agility

Bad stuff

Some interior niggles, tiny boot, turbo V8 lacks the aural theatre of an Aston V12

Overview

What is it?

It’s not a cabrio, or a convertible, or even a roadster or a spider. It’s a Volante, dahhhling. Only a brand with the cocksure coolness of Aston Martin could get away with calling its soft-top a Volante. Means ‘flying’ in Italian, since you ask.

And the DB12 Volante is the latest in a very long lineage stretching back to the heady days of the swinging Sixties. Aston has rarely meddled with the recipe in that time. It never went for a folding hard-top when they were the fashion. And the DB12 Volante is apparently more of the same. The DB12 coupe’s sweeping metal roof is replaced with an eight-layer soft-top, available in four colours, which can retract in 16 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph.

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Is it much heavier, slower and floppier than the hard-top?

No, because it’s 2024 and that would be unacceptable. Especially in a car which costs fifty quid less than £200,000 before a single option has been applied. Which means any DB12 Volante you see with your own eyes is probably attached to a price tag approaching a quarter of a million quid.

The weight has gone up by 111kg to 1,796kg dry, or around 1.9 tonnes by the time you’ve applied vital fluids and filled the generous, continent-eating tank. But the car doesn’t feel anything like as heavy as that.

Partly because it’s more powerful than a medium-sized air force. The twin-turbo 4.0-litre AMG-derived V8 develops 671bhp and 590lb ft, and the rear axle finds a stunning amount of traction to deploy all that. So you stand a fighting chance of matching the 3.6-second 0-60mph sprint. The top speed is a supercar-worthy 202mph.

Aston’s cabrios have traditionally been a little shakier than the likes of Bentley or Porsche’s, but the DB12 ups the ante with stiffened suspension mounts and a new engine cross brace. The claim is a ‘boost of global torsional stiffness by near 5 per cent’. Which doesn’t sound like very much at all.

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But in the world of chassis tuning, a millimetre of ride height here, a degree of camber there and a dollop of whatever ‘global’ stiffness is makes a palpable difference.

What are the rivals?

There’s a whole heap of them, chiefly the short-facelifted Bentley Continental GTC and Ferrari Roma Spider at the opposing ends of the luxe-and-sporty spectrum. Somewhere in the middle you’ll also find the Mercedes-AMG SL (with a similar but less powerful engine) and Maserati GranCabrio, while you can never discount the Porsche 911 Turbo from showing up and being almost annoyingly brilliant across the board. But not as knuckle-bitingly lovely to look at as the Aston…

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Instead of getting caught in two minds between supercar and cruiser, the DB12 nails the sweet spot of wafty comfort and pacey precision

Aston’s on a roll at the moment: we loved the DBS Ultimate and the new DB12 Coupe continued the hot streak. That car was such a monumental improvement over the DB11, it was unlikely Aston would screw it up by converting it to a soft-top. And it hasn’t. If anything, the Volante is even prettier, and offers more sense of occasion than the DB12 coupe. It’s a complete tonic to drive a car that’s so sure of itself; that knows exactly what its role is and how to perform it.

Instead of getting caught in two minds between supercar and cruiser (like the Mercedes SL) or being overly frenetic like certain Ferraris, the DB12 nails the sweet spot of wafty comfort and pacey precision. There are still flaws with the interior and packaging, but these are far less of a spoiler than in previous Volantes. If the Vantage and Valhalla can continue Aston’s purple patch, it’ll soon boast one of the strongest line-ups of any sports car maker.

The Rivals

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