You are here


Well that looks spectacular.

Doesn’t it just? Conventional logic suggests slicing the roof from the utterly stunning Aston Martin DBS Superleggera will ruin its beauty. You’ll find conventional logic screwed up into a tiny ball, flung into the bins outside Aston’s design studio. This Volante is a wonderful piece of design, roof up or down, from any angle you dare choose.

That same logic normally leads to convertible supercars feeling a little floppy to drive, too. Drive a 458 Spider and you’ll realise even the indomitable Ferrari isn’t immune. And with a quite frankly scandalous 715bhp twin-turbo V12 driving the rear wheels and a not insubstantial 170kg hike in weight – we’re now talking a 1,863kg total – you’d be forgiven for considerably lowering your expectations of how the DBS Superleggera Volante will drive.

Should I?

Short answer: no. There’s the usual strengthening beneath the skin to offset the loss of a fixed roof (accounting for much of the extra mass) as well as some reshaped aero to ensure the Volante still has the same 211mph top speed as the coupe even with the roof down, if you’d like the wind to blow your hair right off rather than merely ruffle through it.

In fact, acceleration is savage. In its baldest terms this is a DB11 plus, with an identical interior architecture and a similar ambience when you’re driving with the laidback demeanour a plushly upholstered V12 convertible encourages. But grab the DBS by the merest scruff of its neck and it’ll react with a ferocity completely absent from its cheaper, less potent sibling.

It’s quick, then…

Whatever gear you’re in there’s a simply monstrous build-up of speed. The numbers on the readout seem to jump up in tens rather than climb gradually, and you’ll be wise to select the higher ratios of the (thoroughly excellent) eight-speed automatic gearbox if you wish to keep yourself to yourself on public roads. In gears one to four there might be a small scrabble for traction, but in truth the DBS demonstrates a quite unholy amount of grip for a car that throws so much power and torque backwards.

Sharp steering, agile responses, a supple ride… this is properly good to drive. Not just for a convertible supercar, but full stop. At lower speeds its GT driving modes really do make it feel like a grand tourer – even on Britain’s beaten-up roads – but prod it into Sport or Sport+ via the steering wheel buttons and it takes on an animalistic side. A thoroughly addictive one.

Loosen the ESP and there’s still tonnes of grip, providing you’re respectful – this is a car with 715bhp going through one of its axles, so you pull a gear or two higher when it’s not bone dry, reserve full throttle for the smoothest bits of road, and treat it with the respect it deserves. But that doesn’t mean pussyfooting – get a grasp of where this car’s limits reside and you can start being more assertive with it, and with extra confidence comes oodles more satisfaction.

Tell me it sounds good.

Of course it flipping does. We’re not talking the halcyon days of high-pitched nat-asp V12s, something Aston has proved extremely proficient at, but for a turbocharged unit this 5.2-litre sounds pretty damn good. Again, it’s derived from the DB11, but it’s throatier here, with far more turbo whooshing and sucking and so much artillery fire as you lift off the throttle. It’s a gargling, hissing, growling drama that delivers everything you’d hope for from a convertible supercar.

It says a lot that I spent most time of my time in the car with the roof down; like any soft-top supercar, you get a sense it’s more precise with the roof fixed, but the experience is elevated so much by removing the most physical barrier between you and the noise. Tooling around in a roofless V12 Aston in the sun really is one of those feelgood experiences that every car enthusiast would trade semi-vital body parts for.

It’s a soft, not hard top.

Of course, that’s why it’s a total work of art to look at. Thankfully, the performance car world seems to be abandoning the heavy, complex, ungainly folding hard-top. There are few technologies we’re so thankful to see the back of, and given how much it priorities beauty, Aston hasn’t once dallied with it. This is an eight-layer insulated roof, too, so the interior’s near-as-dammit as comfy as the DBS coupe’s when the fabric is in place.

It does all the essentials asked of it, too. It folds in around 15 seconds and can operate at 30mph, while the biggest show-offs can retract it with the key fob within a two-metre radius. Please don’t, though. This is an outrageously cool car that does not deserve to be sullied by caddish behaviour from its driver.

Does the DBS Volante do anything wrong?

The DB11-sourced interior looks dramatic but proves fiddly to operate, and perhaps isn’t entirely befitting of a £250k car. The dials almost completely glare over if the roof is down and the sun behind you, for instance; the speed is still legible, but nothing else.

Then there’s the antiquated phone link-up. Complaining about struggling to play a podcast in a V12 opera house is probably akin to moaning the WiFi’s not quick enough in The Ritz: just concentrate on eating your £60 crab starter and forget Twitter for 20 minutes, the world has far bigger things going on right now. But we’re car reviewers and it’s a criticism that probably has to be levelled at a quarter-million-pound cabrio purporting to be a grand tourer.

Oh, and the rear arches are even wider than normal thanks to some subtly applied styling tweaks that better disguise its new roof set-up. So you pay for the Volante’s retained beauty with yet more hair-raising parking manoeuvres. Worth it.

You sound pretty smitten.

The standard DBS Superleggera is already spectacular, but its convertible iteration doesn’t feel compromised. It’s even more of an event, if anything. With the caveat I’ve not driven a One-77, this is surely the most pulsating Aston road car ever.

But a proper Aston, too: front engine, rear drive, burly weight, lots of torque and noise. And life-enriching even when you aren’t driving at the thousand miles an hour it feels capable of. Aston Martin’s new mid-engined future is exciting, but let’s hope it doesn’t forget the stuff it does best. This is the exemplar.

Score: 9/10

5204cc V12 twin-turbo, 8spd auto, RWD
715bhp, 663lb ft, 0-62mph in 3.6secs, 211mph
20.1mpg, 295g/km CO2, 1863kg

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content