What is it like to drive?
I daresay I’ve never driven a stiffer cabrio that doesn’t depend on a carbon tub – there’s no hint of flex or shimmy from the chassis, which runs the same suspension settings as the coupe. That’s confidence for you. No softening of the handling ‘because drop-top buyers don’t go to track days’ excuses here. Aston handling chief Matt Becker says the DBS needed to stay sporty to justify its place and price above a DB11.
Ironically the DBS doesn’t bash you over the head with its flagship status. Immediately from the off, it’s not rattling you into concussion with a needlessly firm ride, V12 straining at the leash. It’s impeccably mannered. This thing steers, brakes, goes with such cultured pomp and circumstance, and looks so fabulous, it charms like no other £250k super-roadster can.
Best settings? Stick the engine in Sport Plus (loud exhaust crackles, big bark, sharp response), leave the suspension in its GT default (to feel the chassis glide along beneath you), and take the gearbox by the horns (OK, the tactile carbon paddles). The steering’s accurate, beautifully weighted and refreshingly measured, unlike the joystick-quick turn-in Ferrari prefers. The DBS is happy to be more measured. It’s a gentlemanly brute, charming and debonair.
Mostly, the DBS puts its power down with traction alchemy, but more than once, it twerked its frankly gorgeous carbon hips when asked to change lanes and perform what should have been a routine overtake. In the dry. In fourth gear. It’s a demonically, relentlessly fast car, this. A couple of tenths behind on the hard-top from nought to sixty, sure, but still rapid enough to run with Ferrari 488s and Lamborghini Huracans. Super-fast.
There’s a deep, burbling bassy note to the V12, though as usual for a modern turbo motor, it sounds best at town speed (read into that what you will, poseurs) and slightly losing its timbre as the revs climb to the redline. But since you’re in a cabrio, the gale-force headwind you’re generating will tend to drown out the noise by the top of third gear.
If you’re used to the baleful yowl cried by the old nat-asp V12s from the Vanquish, the newer motor doesn’t freeze the hairs on the back of your neck with liquid nitrogen now it’s turbocharged (and will get muffled later in the year when new EU filters have to be squeezed into the exhaust). But it’s got more menace to the soundtrack than the DB11 V12, and it’s a more expensive, cultured rumble than a V8. We’ll miss these engines when they’re gone, and in the Volante, you’re that much more intimate with the powerhouse under the gargantuan clamshell bonnet.