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Aston Martin Vanquish Volante First Drive

By raccars Published

A dream Aston Martin for the summer? The Vanquish Volante sits at the top of the firm’s range and offers drop-top joy at the press of a button. It has supercar performance and handling but the beautiful styling is the standout. As you’d perhaps hope for £200k…

Price: £203,140 Gearbox: Six speed automatic 0-62mph: 4.1 seconds Top speed: 183mph Fuel economy: 19.6mpg CO2: 335g/km On sale: Now Insurance group: 50

Three UK Aston Martin Vanquish Virage facts

1: Costs £12,000 more than the otherwise identical Vanquish coupé 2: Offers an enormous range of bespoke options (under the branded ‘Q by Aston Martin range) that means the list price is simply the starting point 3: It’s one of the most expensive cars Aston Martin has ever sold

What is it?

The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is the firm’s posh name for ‘Vanquish soft-top’: Volante is Aston’s favoured name for its open-roof sports cars. Joining the Vanquish coupé around a year after its launch, the Volante completes the core range of Aston Martin’s range-topping model: at more than £200,000, it becomes the most expensive non-specialist Aston ever sold.

And we’re sure there may be some well-heeled customers who write the cheque without blinking the moment they set eyes on it: this is a beautiful car, full of flowing surfaces and intriguing body sculpture. It’s made entirely from carbon fibre, allowing the designer, Marek Reichman, to do things other car designers simply can’t do. The result is another lovely Aston Martin.

It’s sold as a single V12-engiend model, using Aston’s latest 557hp 6.0-litre motor, paired to a paddleshift automatic gearbox. Pretty much every core extra you could wish for is standard, but this doesn't mean you’ll be taking it as it comes out the box – Aston Martin’s bespoke optional extras range is very tempting…

The Vanquish Volante is a car that doesn't have too many rivals. Most high-end machines in this price range are full-blooded race-inspired supercars and many luxury-brand rivals don’t actually have a car that costs this much. The Bentley Continental GTC is much cheaper, for example, as is the Mercedes-Benz SL. Can Aston justify it, then?

Styling and interior

As mentioned, the Vanquish Volante is a car to really fall in love with. We found during our time with it that it encouraged huge admiration from others, which isn't always the case in cars this expensive. Its peerless image and pleasing beauty really chime with onlookers.

It’s a big car, one with plenty of drama, particularly at the front end where all the Aston Martin cues are in evidence. The expansive panels and perfect proportions add to the drama and some of the technological detail engineering, such as the fully integrated rear spoiler, is ingenious.

It’s equally elegant roof-down, with uncluttered lines once the folding canvas hood is dropped. It’s not always the case that soft-top cars look good both roof up and down, but the Aston Martin is one exception there.

Inside, the look is more familiar from other Aston Martins. It’s been brought up to date in places – the touch-sensitive centre console is different, for example (it looks better than it works…) but the basic architecture is now familiar. It’s no less dramatic, but it lacks the modernity of rivals.

It really is beautifully finished, though. OK, our test car carried plenty of extras, but many of these were variations on what’s already there – gorgeous soft leather, neat carbon fibre and really low-set racing-style seats that are divine to sit in.

Just don’t call it a four-seater. There are chairs and seatbelts in the rear, but no actual space to sit in them.

Performance

The big V12 engine is one of the last of its type: emissions regulations mean large-capacity multi-cylinder engines like this may not be around for much longer (that’s why Aston Martin has partnered with Mercedes-AMG to develop new engines). This will be a pity: this is a really nice engine to use.

V12 engines are always nice, of course. But this one is even nicer than earlier iterations of the Aston 6.0-litre, because it’s been engineered to offer both more speed and flexibility. The speed is obvious: 183mph, 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds. Get the revs up and it flies.

But it’s still useful if you don’t rev it hard, because there's much more torque than there was. Low-rev pulling power has been enhanced and this extra driving strength makes it feel more relaxed and confident behind the wheel.

The six-speed gearbox is OK but Aston Martin really needs to switch over to a transmission with more ratios now. It needs a broader spread of gears and a taller override at speed to help cut fuel consumption.

Handling

You really feel the specialist race-car breeding in the Aston from behind the wheel. It has a purity and directness that is a step on from most mainstream sports-cars – you can really appreciate the aluminium architecture and advanced adaptive suspension.

Steering is super-sharp and responds with precision to small inputs. The Virage Volante is also free from roll so the nose follows corners faithfully, something you’ll appreciate when driving on tight winding roads. It’s powerful and rear-wheel drive but there’s lots of grip so it’s rarely cause for concern.

The suspension offers a comfortable-riding regular mode, which benefits from revised settings over the coupé to deliver a more pliant and absorbent ride. It has a sports car’s firmness but copes better with bumps and bobbles. There’s also a sport damper mode, that stiffens the body control, further enhances the car’s response and minimises body roll yet further. For spirited driving, this is the mode to choose.

Better still, press the alternative ‘sport’ button on the steering wheel. This combines stiffer dampers with sharper engine response, higher gear change points and a different setting for the traction control system. It also opens up flaps in the exhausts to make it sound sportier – and believe us, in this mode, it sounds fantastic.

Price and value

Can a £200,000 luxury soft-top ever be called good value? Well, if any can, the Aston can. The Vanquish Volante feels a specialist, hand-built product, upon which real individual care and attention has been lavished. The standards are exemplary.

Despite being a new car, parts of it are not in the first flush of youth, which some may have issue with, and while the engine is quick, it’s not as good as it could be because of the gearbox. Overall though, if you have the money to buy one, you’re unlikely to be disappointed by it, nor find much to make you question what you spent on it.

Fuel economy

On paper, the V12 engine is a thirsty motor. There are rivals that return more than 25mpg in this sector, yet the Aston is firmly below this at just 19.6mpg. CO2 emissions are correspondingly high too.

In practice though, owners may get a surprise. We drove it with enthusiasm and found we were returning around 20mpg, which really surprised us. It’s still pretty stiff fuel consumption but not as bad as it could be. Besides, most owners care less about the actual economy and more about the driving range. That’s why Aston fits such a large fuel tank…

Verdict: Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

The Aston Martin Vanquish coupé is an Aston Martin that impressed us when we first drove it, but which we didn't completely fall in love with. This Vanquish Volante is thus a welcome new addition – with small detail tweaks here and there, plus a pretty variation on the beautiful body-shape, it finally is a range-topping Aston Martin to lust after.

It is in no way cheap but it’s special enough to almost justify it, and has the talent not to disappoint once you start using it in earnest. Worth the money? Well, if you've got the cash, and love Aston Martin, you won’t be disappointed…

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