Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

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You can’t blame cash-strapped Aston Martin for extracting maximum value from the materials at its disposal. In the beginning the DB9 begat the shorter, V8-powered Vantage that in turn developed a Vantage S off-shoot, with a seven-speed robotised manual paddle-shift gearbox between the rear wheels.

In the meantime Aston wondered what reception a Vantage with the full-fat V12 would receive, and was pleased to discover the world thought it was good. So I guess it was only a matter of time before the ‘S’ specification and V12 would be married, and the V12 Vantage S was the result. The only permutation remaining was to make it available with the convertible Roadster body – and here it is.

It’s a curious car whose charms took time to pierce the veneer of dynamic issues that are most noticeable on first acquaintance. I always thought Vantage Roadsters had reasonably rigid chassis, especially compared with the DB9 Volante, but something to do with the V12 – either its additional weight or the way it is installed – has made the V12 Roadster feel far more structurally challenged than I remembered. And while road testers love to bang on about torsional rigidity while everyone else looks on perplexed, you can feel it here in the degraded ride quality, less precise handling and a certain amount of steering column shake.

As a thing to drive, it’s not even on the same score sheet as the V12 Vantage S coupé, one of my very favourite supercars. And if that matters to you as it did to me, stay away: this is not like a McLaren 650S where I’d challenge anyone to detect a material dynamic difference between open and closed versions.

But then I looked at it from the other direction, and thought of it not as a spoiled V12 Vantage, but a massively upgraded Vantage Roadster. And to those already in love with the idea of an open Aston and more than happy to tolerate whatever compromises that might bring, the proposition is entirely different. For this Roadster is just as good as any other at all the open-air stuff, but brings with it wonderful performance, an almighty soundtrack and utterly effortless cruising at any speed commensurate with keeping you out of jail.

First impressions really count with almost all cars and familiarity only reinforces those views. But not this one: during four days my feelings for it progressed from resentment to antipathy, thence to mild pleasure and finally ending up at genuine warmth. Personally I’d prefer any closed Aston, but if you want a Roadster there’s never been a better one than this.

Factfile
£147,000

Engine: 5.9 litres, 12 cylinders, normally aspirated
Power: [email protected]
Torque: 457lb [email protected]
Transmission: seven-speed robotised manual, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 4.1sec
Top speed: 201mph
Economy: 19.2mpg
CO2: 343g/km