Aston Martin DB12 Volante review

Category: Convertible

The Volante is the drop-top version of Aston Martin’s sporty, rapid and luxurious DB12 grand tourer

Aston Martin DB12 Volante front cornering
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front cornering
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear cornering
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante dashboard
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante interior
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante driver display
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante right driving
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front right driving
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear right driving
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front badge
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante grille detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante alloy wheel
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear badge
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front seats
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante steering wheel
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante infotainment touchscreen
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante interior detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante seats detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante back seats
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front cornering
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear cornering
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante dashboard
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante interior
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante driver display
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante right driving
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front right driving
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear right driving
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front badge
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante grille detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante alloy wheel
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear badge
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante front seats
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante steering wheel
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante infotainment touchscreen
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante interior detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante seats detail
  • Aston Martin DB12 Volante back seats
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Introduction

What Car? says...

In music, "volante" means to move lightly and quickly, and while it would be a stretch to call the Aston Martin DB12 Volante light (it tips the scales at almost 1,800kg), it’s certainly capable of moving quickly, with 0-62mph taking just 3.7 seconds and a top speed north of 200mph.

Still, that’s hardly surprising. This car is the convertible version of the Aston Martin DB12 coupé, and uses the same 671bhp twin-turbo 4.0-litre petrol V8 engine.

It’s worth noting that convertible Astons haven’t always been as good as their raw ingredients would suggest. The DB9 Volante, for example, flexed like it was made from wet cardboard, and consequently suffered from vague handling and a crashy ride. The DB11 Volante was much more impressive – which is especially encouraging news given that it was the starting point for this DB12 Volante.

So, what’s changed? Well, in addition to giving it a thorough restyle, Aston Martin has tried to sharpen up the handling while simultaneously delivering a more luxurious feel.

In this review we’re going to look at how successful it’s been, plus we’ll compare the Aston Martin DB12 Volante with the best convertible rivals, the Bentley Continental GTC and Mercedes-AMG SL.

Overview

Some rivals are more practical, but the Aston Martin DB12 Volante is great to drive and feels special inside, so it’s well worth considering if you’re shopping at this rarified end of the new car market.

  • Massive performance
  • Beautifully crafted interior
  • More involving to drive than rivals
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Small boot
  • As expensive as you’d expect
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Sharp handling
  • +Rapid and flexible performance
  • +Engine sounds great

Weaknesses

  • -Bentley Continental GTC is more refined

The 671bhp engine in the Aston Martin DB12 Volante is flexible as well as powerful, pulling almost as hard from low down as the V8 in the Bentley Continental GTC while being more eager to rev.

What’s more, it’s the Aston’s engine (actually sourced from Mercedes-AMG) that sounds better as it gallops towards its redline, aided by a switchable exhaust that lets you turn up the volume when you’re in the mood. Think Rod Stewart with laryngitis – deep and gravely, but still properly tuneful.

You’ll appreciate the engine note all the more when you lower the roof (which takes 14 seconds and is possible at speeds of up to 31mph). When it’s down, you’re well protected from wind buffeting all the way up to motorways speeds, as long as you install the wind deflector over the rear seats. 

What about the car's dynamics? They're often the Achilles' heel of convertibles because chopping the metal roof off a car forces you to add bracing to strengthen the structure, adding weight and blunting handling?

Well, not here. The ride is firmer than a Continental GTC’s but still on the right side of comfortable as long as you keep the adaptive dampers out of their most focused setting.

Aston Martin DB12 image
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At the same time, the DB12 Volante stays very flat and composed through corners, so feels far more agile than the GTC. It benefits from sharp – but never twitchy – steering that provides a stronger sense of connection to the front wheels than you get with the Mercedes-AMG SL 63.

There’s plenty of grip available too, and an electronically controlled differential for the rear wheels helps maximise traction as you power out of corners.

Granted, the GTC remains on another level in terms of isolating occupants from the outside world with the roof up, but the DB12 is still quiet enough to keep you relaxed on long drives.

Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Comfortable driving position
  • +High standard of fit and finish
  • +Physical controls have been retained

Weaknesses

  • -Compromised visibility
  • -Our test car’s infotainment system was glitchy

A 16-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that offers a wide range of movement combine to make it easy for people of different shapes and sizes to find a good driving position in the Aston Martin DB12 Volante.

What’s more, the seats feel plusher than those in the Mercedes SL and are more supportive in corners than the big, armchair-like items in the Bentley Continental GTC. It’s just a pity some drivers might find that they catch their left knee on the electric seat controls, which are mounted on the side of the centre console.

You sit comparatively low down behind a high dashboard and wide windscreen pillars, so forward visibility could be better. Plus, the high boot lid means the standard parking sensors and 360-degree parking camera will be appreciated, even when the roof is folded away.

Fortunately, you should have no complaints about interior quality. True, the DB12 Volante doesn’t feel quite as robust as a Continental GTC, but the standard of assembly is still impressive, and the materials used are suitably premium. Soft hand-stitched leather covers most surfaces, and the speaker grilles and other details are made from stainless steel instead of the plastic you get in the SL.

You can specify a clear and punchy 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo with 1,170 watts. Meanwhile, the standard 12.3in infotainment touchscreen is Aston Martin’s own development (replacing the Mercedes-sourced system in the DB11). Wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay are standard, and the screen is sharp and responsive enough – although our early test car did suffer from some sat-nav and Bluetooth glitches.

Helpfully, you still get physical controls on the centre console for commonly used functions. For example, adjusting the audio volume or the temperature for the climate control can be done simply by rolling a scroll wheel back and forth.

Aston Martin DB12 Volante dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of room in the front
  • +Good in-car storage

Weaknesses

  • -Very cramped in the back
  • -Rivals have bigger boots

Although the Aston Martin DB12 Volante offers a more intimate, sporty feel than a Bentley Continental GTC, there’s still plenty of space in the front. Head and leg room are both good, even for very tall adults, and the relatively wide interior means there's plenty of elbow room.

Storage space includes a wireless charging tray for your phone, two small cupholders, a centre armrest cubby and door bins that can each hold a drinks bottle horizontally.

The rear seats, on the other hand, are very cramped and best viewed as a nicely upholstered luggage shelf for coats and bags. Fitting the wind deflector makes them uninhabitable. The Continental GTC and Mercedes-AMG SL are better if you often carry more than one passenger.

With the roof up, the DB12 Volante has a bigger boot than the SL, but when you compare them in roof-down mode, the SL wins (its roof doesn't take up any boot space). The GTC has a bigger boot in all situations.

In numbers, the DB12 Volante gives you 262 litres of boot space with the roof up, which is enough for two carry-on suitcases with maybe a couple of soft bags squeezed on top of them. With it down, the space shrinks to 169 litres and is shallower, so the suitcases will still fit but you can forget about additional bags.

Aston Martin DB12 Volante interior

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Lots of luxury and safety equipment as standard

Weaknesses

  • -Expensive to buy and run
  • -No independent crash-test rating

Let’s not beat around the bush here: an Aston Martin DB12 Volante will cost you a small fortune to buy although, presumably, this won’t come as a surprise to you if you’re considering one.

Likewise, we’re guessing you won’t be shocked to learn that it sits in the top insurance group band, drinks like Oliver Reed (official average economy is just 23.2mpg) and servicing costs will be high – especially when you need a new set of tyres.

True, the DB12 Volante won’t depreciate as quickly as a Mercedes-AMG SL 63 but you’re still looking at it losing tens of thousands of pounds in the first year of ownership.

On the up side, you get a long list of standard equipment, including heated front seats, two-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, a DAB radio, LED headlights and an Alcantara suede headliner. Options include ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and privacy glass.

No version of the DB12 has been crash-tested by Euro NCAP or security tested by the experts at Thatcham, but safety kit includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition and cross-traffic assist.


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Aston Martin DB12 Volante driver display

FAQs

  • The Volante is the convertible car version of the Aston Martin DB12. It's heavier and fractionally slower away from the mark than the coupé model. However, it will still blast from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds.

  • If you drive it somewhere with lots of space and no speed limit, the DB12 Volante can hit 202mph – the same top speed as the Aston Martin DB12 coupé.

  • The DB12 Volante is a significantly upgraded version of the DB11 Volante (instead of an all-new car), and replaces it in the Aston Martin range.

At a glance
New car deals
Target Price from £202,300
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £209,995
RRP price range £202,300 - £202,300
Number of trims (see all)1
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 23.2 - 23.2
Available doors options 2
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £14,763 / £14,763
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £29,526 / £29,526
Available colours