The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante represents the pinnacle of the luxury British car maker’s line-up, trumping the coupe version that was launched last year. It’s also the first Aston Martin soft-top to feature a full carbonfibre body.
The 5.9-litre V12 engine is shared with the coupe and allows the Volante to match its performance, despite gaining 105kg. From rest it'll get to 60mph in only 4.1 seconds and will hit 183 mph flat-out. A six-speed automatic is the only gearbox offered.
Subtle engineering changes compared with the Vanquish convertible’s predecessor, the DBS Volante, include a full-height windscreen – another first for the company.
Like the coupe, carbon-ceramic brakes are standard, along with 20-inch alloys – and they should be, considering the £200k price. That's £10,000 more than you’ll pay for the coupe.
What's the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante like to drive?
The first thing you notice when you fire up the Vanquish Volante is the bolder sound from its glorious V12 engine – that’s simply due to Aston chopping off the roof.
It’s impossible to resist tapping the sport button on the steering wheel, which makes the exhaust even louder; there’s a deafening bark whenever the put you foot down, followed by seriously eye-widening acceleration.
The automatic gearbox works pretty well, although it isn’t as quick or as smooth as the twin-clutch 'boxes offered by Ferrari and Porsche. It prefers to be left to its own devices, although you can swap ratios manual by using the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
The Vanquish Volante handles well with excellent grip and traction. The hydraulic steering is communicative and nicely weighted, and although the Aston is nowhere near as agile as a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, it feels lighter than a Bentley Continental GT Convertible.
It's not all good news. The Vanquish’s underpinnings are well over 10 years old, and while there’s been regular fettling during that period, there’s noticeably more body shake than you get in newer rivals.
Another gripe is that, even in the softest of the three suspension settings, the Vanquish Volante still isn’t especially cosseting on broken surfaces. This mirrors our experience of the Vanquish coupe, which we’ve already tested in the UK.
What's the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante like inside?
Like the coupe, it’s a big upgrade from DBS Volante. The navigation system is still antiquated compared to most rivals’, but at least the layout of the centre console is much better than in other Aston models. As in the coupe, many of the buttons feature ‘haptic’ feedback, vibrating subtly when touched so you know they’ve been pressed. It’s a detail that surely adds to the exclusive feeling Aston Martin buyers are looking for.
While the coupe is available as either a two-seater or a 2+2, the Volante is available only in the latter configuration. Just don’t think you’ll be getting any adults in the back.
The boot is far more useful. At 279 litres, it’s 50% bigger than the DBS Volante's.
With the roof up, quite a lot of wind noise makes its way into the cabin, and although poor weather restricted the amount of top-down testing we could do, the cabin was relatively draught-free at lower speeds – partly due, no doubt, to the Vanquish Volante’s new higher windscreen.
Should I buy one?
If you’re looking for an exclusive, soft-top GT car with gobs of power and a dynamic edge, the Vanquish Volante may be just the car. It’s gorgeous inside and out, and offers a far more sporting experience than a Bentley Continental GT Convertible.
However, we prefer the stiffer Vanquish coupe, and there are one or two questions about the ride quality in the UK. Some may also think the Vanquish looks better as a coupe, but this soft-top version still carries much of the hard-top’s wonderful blend of an old-school Aston profile with modern detailing.
What Car? says...
Engine size 5.9-litre V12 petrol
Price from £199,995
0-62 mph 4.1sec
Top speed 183mph
Fuel economy 19.5mpg
CO2 emissions 335g/km