The Volante is powered by a 470bhp V12 that pulls like a train at low revs and has 443lb ft of pulling strength on tap to make overtaking effortless. Buyers can choose from a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic with manual override. This swaps ratios smoothly, but feels a little flat-footed when you want to push on.
On smooth, fast roads the Volante feels composed and grippy, but throw in some surface variations and it fidgets. In addition, while the ride is more forgiving than the coupé’s, bumps and broken surfaces cause shudders through the steering wheel.
The Italians aren’t alone in making fabulous-sounding 12-cylinder engines. The Aston sounds as good as any and, with the roof down, there’s less to separate you from the glorious howl it emits under acceleration. The 19-inch wheels kick up road noise, but wind buffeting isn’t a problem.
The UK will get about a third of the 2200 DB9s made each year, of which half will be Volantes. That means it will be an exclusive beast and residuals should be strong. Naturally, the Aston will be costly to run, but buyers expect that. What might irritate is the touring range of less than 200 miles.
Aston’s V12 engine has proved itself in the DB9 coupé and Vanquish, although some strange warning messages flashed up during our test. The gearboxes should also be reliable. The cabin looks great, but some of the materials used and the standard of fit and finish is a disappointment in places.
Volvo helped Aston develop the DB9, and it has a full range of electronic traction and braking aids, plus four airbags. In the event of a rollover, the front screen can take twice the car’s weight, and protection hoops pop up behind the rear head restraints. A security tracker system is fitted.
The dash is covered with matt wood and aluminium, while the rest of the cabin is trimmed with leather and carpet. The front seats are fully adjustable and superbly supportive. Forward visibility is fine but the rear window is miniscule, which makes reversing a matter of faith with the roof up. Minor dash switches are also small and difficult to read.
The Volante retains the back seats of the hard-top DB9, but don’t go thinking these can comfortably accommodate people. With a couple of average-sized adults up front, rear legroom is virtually non-existent. You’re better off using the space for luggage that the smallish boot can’t swallow, although the backrests don’t fold flat to extend the luggage bay.
As you would expect, given the price tag, climate control, powered seat adjustment, satellite-navigation and a terrific stereo are all standard. This still leaves the DB9 missing some luxury kit that is fitted to cheaper rivals, such as the Mercedes SL55 AMG. However, for a price, Aston will happily customise the car with any extra you can think of.
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