Take a good long look, or better yet, a good long listen at the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante, because the marque’s epic V12-powered cars are about to rasp their last, a victim of more stringent CO2 emission regulations. By the time a next-generation Aston Martin fires to life (likely to be in the next few years), it’ll most likely be a forced-induction V8, built in conjunction with Mercedes-AMG.
So it helps, then, that in its final act before it exits stage left, Gaydon’s soft-top range-topper is quite possibly the best, most complete Aston Martin in a good long while. We don’t just mean it excels in the looks department, though the Vanquish Volante is no slouch there, too.
For the first time ever, Aston Martin has opted to craft the entirety of the car’s “skin” from carbon fibre. This gives it some wild contours not possible with sheet metal, and whether the triple-layered fabric roof (that takes 14 seconds to stow or deploy) is up or down, the car is still strikingly beautful.It would take a true cynic indeed not to fall in love with those curves over the rear haunches and the sinuous midriff styling, which provides a nice contrast to the angular (and mean-looking) aerodynamic addenda.
But the best bit about the Vanquish Volante is the way it handles, finally curing the wooliness of its predecessor, the DBS Volante. As with all other large Astons (such as the DB9, Rapide and this car’s coupe sibling), the Vanquish Volante rests on the marque’s all-aluminium VH architecture, though in fourth-generation guise here, it’s almost 75 percent new, including a carbon fibre rear structure.
Apart from being lighter than aluminium, the carbon fibre has the added benefit of increasing torsional rigidity (a key complaint levelled at the DBS Volante) by 14 percent. Incidentally, its new structure has also given the Vanquish some much-needed practicality, with a boot capacity 50 percent larger than the DBS Volante (279 litres with the roof up or down).What’s more important is, the new chassis and revised suspension settings have endowed the Vanquish Volante with some iron-fisted body control, there’s good accuracy and feel from the electro-hydraulic helm, along with some stupendous grip from the Pirelli P Zero tyres. This soft-top car is emphatically not soft, something made abundantly clear when the ADS adaptive suspension is put into Sport or Track mode.
That said, the suspension, while admittedly firm in the above two modes, still has a modicum of comfort, as the ADS is a fully active system. It constantly takes into account a host of variables, including vehicle speed and steering angle, in order to provide an optimum damping setup, so city driving (even in Track mode) isn’t too wearing.
Still, whichever suspension mode you choose, or however you choose to drive the car, there’s the pervasive presence of the mighty 5.9-litre V12 ahead of you, something even more apparent when the fabric roof is folded away. It’s a wonder that the Vanquish Volante managed to pass noise emission tests, because flooring the throttle results in a hair-raising (and possibly window-shattering) shriek from the motor.It’s the stuff petrolhead fantasies are made of, so it’s a pity we’ll probably never see (and hear) the likes of that titanic V12 again, because in addition to emitting a whopping 335g/km of CO2, it’s none too frugal with fuel as well (claimed 6.9km/L). If you’re a tree-hugging legislator, this will probably have you choking on your organic salad.
But while terribly bad for the Earth, the motor in the Vanquish Volante is also terribly fun – it produces 573bhp and 620Nm (against the DBS Volante’s 517bhp and 570Nm), which can catapult the big Aston “ragtop” from a standstill to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds. Interestingly enough, despite being 105kg heavier than the Vanquish coupe, the Vanquish Volante is claimed to do the century sprint in an identical time, something we think could be down to a slightly conservative launch control system in both cars.
Either way, it’s blisteringly quick, but you can’t help but think those acceleration figures, while impressive, are nowhere close to what its main rivals, like the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster or the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, can do (3.0 and 3.3 seconds respectively).However, what’s a little more galling is, against the Lambo and Porsche, the Aston’s interior disappoints in quite a few ways, despite it being covered door-to-door in sumptuous, butter-smooth Luxmill leather.
There’s a cheap, hollow click when manipulating the buttons on the steering wheel, an unconvincing wobble to some of the knobs on the centre console and the infotainment system’s graphics look mighty dated. And don’t even get us started on the centre console’s touch-sensitive panel that controls some of the air-conditioning and infotainment functions. We found this to be incredibly finicky to operate and not quite as smartphone-like as Aston Martin would claim (or if it is indeed like a smartphone, it’s a particularly bad one).
The combined effect of all that is to make the Vanquish Volante (and all other Astons, for that matter) look and feel lacking in polish. It would be less unseemly, though, if this car’s asking price wasn’t an astronomical $1,210,800 sans COE or options.So then, the million-dollar (and then some) question would be: Is the Vanquish Volante worth buying? Well, it’s certainly not a question that has an easy answer – it involves a tussle between your head and heart.
On one hand, you have that monster price tag, which would be easier to swallow without the dated interior and its patchy quality. On the other hand, you have that monster of a 12-cylinder, those heart-meltingly sexy lines and how it’s the most sorted Aston Martin in a good long time.
Were it up to us, and were we to have a spare million or so lying around, we’d spring for the Vanquish Volante in a heartbeat, if only because it’s about to be part of a soon-to-be extinct breed.
TYPE V12, 48-valves
BORE X STROKE 89mm x 79.5mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 11:1
MAX POWER 573bhp at 6750rpm
MAX TORQUE 620Nm at 5500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 310.6bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 6-speed automated manual
DRIVEN WHEELS Rear
0-100KM/H 4.1 seconds
TOP SPEED 295km/h
CONSUMPTION 6.9km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 335g/km
FRONT Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers
REAR Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers
FRONT / REAR Ventilated discs
TYPE Pirelli P Zero
SIZE 255/35 R20 (front), 305/30 R20 (rear)
TRACTION CONTROL ABS with ESC
KERB WEIGHT 1845kg
TURNING CIRCLE 12.2m
PRICE EXCL. COE $1,210,800 (before $20k CEVS surcharge)
WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km
+ Achingly beautiful to look at, charismatic V12 motor, decent handling at last
– Insanely large price tag, iffy interior quality, finicky infotainment system