Stunning to behold, but less so to drive
You could right now be running away with the idea that the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante must be the greatest Aston of the modern era.
After all, the car is not only indescribably gorgeous even by the fairly stellar standards of the marque, but also combines its most powerful engine with a convertible roof.
It matters not whether you want the Aston to go fast or look good, the Vanquish Volante seems to have every base covered – as well it should. For £199,995 this is by some margin the most expensive Aston you can buy, now that all the £1.2 million One-77 limited edition hypercars have been delivered.
The problem? What’s good for a world-class convertible and how you’d ideally configure the perfect supercar are very far from the same thing. Indeed, their interests are conflicting: the extra power places greater demands on the already compromised structure of any convertible, while ensuring said convertible can cope entails adding weight and therefore blunts the very performance the extra power was designed to provide.
This Aston is a fine illustrator of these issues. As a convertible it’s not even as good as the DB9 upon which it is based, but which costs more than £55,000 less. Its firmer suspension not only spoils the ride quality but also causes the structure to shimmy and shake in a way I’d not expect to notice in the DB9. On the other hand, when you put your foot down the car is just not as fast as you’d either like or expect. Aston cites a 0-62mph of 4.1sec but it doesn’t feel that quick: I informally timed it at about 5sec to 60mph, which is how it feels. But sample the same 565bhp engine in the Vantage V12S and you’ll find a car that’s so rapid Aston’s claim of 3.7sec to 62mph actually seems conservative.
Of course, if you don’t ask too much of the Vanquish Volante it still provides a mightily pleasant place to pass the time. The quality of the interior materials is sublime, the sound of the V12 as good as that of any Ferrari and, if you’re susceptible to such things, you’ll hoover up looks of green-eyed envy from every pavement you pass.
Indeed, the Vanquish stays a capable and likeable companion as speeds rise and you’re bowled along on the kind of seamless torque a highly tuned 5.9-litre V12 can provide.
But when you drive it like you’d expect an Aston flagship should demand to be driven, the Vanquish disappoints. The six-speed automatic transmission is simply not good enough, there’s not enough bite from the steering when you turn in, nor even quite enough shove at the exit to hurl you up the road beyond.
This, then, is an Aston in which to be seen. If you want more from those wings on its nose, there remain plenty of cheaper, better options – open and closed – lower down the range.
Engine: 5.9 litres, 12 cylinders
Power: 565bhp @ 6750rpm
Torque: 457lb ft @ 5500rpm
Transmission: six-speed paddle shift, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 183mph
Economy: 19.6 mpg