Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Car Review

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante review

Published: 02 Jul 2019
A 715bhp super-cabrio that’s beguiling at 7 miles an hour. What a device.

Good stuff

The looks, the noise, the sense of occasion even when it’s not going that quickly.

Bad stuff

Same fiddly dashboard as DB11. Bit too much power, dare we say it?


What is it?

A very long silly name, but you probably won’t care when you tuck into the spec of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante. This is the ultimate open Aston, and may be forevermore, unless someone with a Valkyrie fires it under the world’s lowest bridge. 

The drop-top DBS inherits its V12 from the DBS coupe. It’s the only way to get an al fresco Aston V12 experience – the DB11 Volante is AMG V8 only. And what a V12 it is. A healthy 5.2 litres, two turbos, developing 715bhp and 664lb ft of torque with a power band to make a diesel weep into its ULEZ receipt. All of this prodigious power is the responsibility of the two rear tyres, via a rear-mounted eight-speed automatic gearbox. 

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Now, because the DBS Volante is 100kg heavier than the hard-top, it’s a bit slower – a few tenths extra on every major sprint. But this is by no means a neutered, all mouth (and what a mouth) and no trousers machine. Officially it’ll do 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, but it feels quicker, because just getting the DBS to haul itself off the line without breaking traction or troubling the traction control takes patience. 

Once it’s rolling, this is a mighty, runaway, effortlessly fast car. Aston quotes the top speed at a McLaren-busting 211mph, because that’s the v-max with the roof down. Motor the soft-top over the 2+2 seat cabin and the DBS Volante won’t quit until it’s past 215mph. Bet that’s draughty. It’s a genuine supercar this, in smart-casual evening dress. 

It’s a bit rich calling a car that weighs 1.9 tonnes with fluids on-board ‘Superlight’, but the car is at least clothed in bespoke carbon panels – it’s a truly stunning machine in person, imposing and muscular yet graceful. Like an Olympic gymnast with a bodybuilder physique but capable of triple-pike backflips and silent landings.

The Volante has lost the coupe’s rear air intakes and its boot vent, which forces airflow out of the tail and glues the car’s backside to the road. But with some reprofiling of the front’s vents and intakes, Aston reckons there’s a negligible drop in downforce. We’re told there’s 177kg of downforce at the top speed, and since testing that in the UK is liable to land you in either a crown court or a séance, we’ll presume there’s ‘enough’. There are other Aston Martins that bully the air more effectively, this one’s for slipping through it making you look as cool as humanly possible.

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What's the verdict?

A quintessentially modern take on a classic Aston recipe. A bit mad, but raffishly charming.

If you’ve skim-read this review, you might have the impression that the DBS Superleggera Volante is too heavy for its name, too powerful for its own good and too expensive to be justifiable. And yes, if you’re the sort of person who sleeps in three jumpers to keep the heating bill down and thinks all live music is pointless because bands sound better on the radio, then yep, those are issues. 

But if you love cars, and appreciate the glorious madness of creating a 21st Century super-GT with more power than a Ferrari 488 Pista, then you can’t fail to be won over by the DBS Volante. Even though the dashboard graphics are pretty Fisher-Price and the touch-sensitive centre-console means turning on the air-con is worse than playing Operation. Blindfolded.

It’s Aston doing what it’s best at, very well indeed. It’s been engineered beautifully, to be ultra-stiff, comfortable and yet appreciably more sporting, more aggressive, than its stablemates. 

No longer can you say that ‘all Astons look the same’, and they certainly don’t have cookie-cutter characters. This one’s a swashbuckling superhero with an operatic bass’s voice, and is a worthy competitor to the Bentley Continental GTC, Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet, and a whole harbour of luxury speedboats.

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