End of an era for V12 engines as regulations bite
Simon Davis gets behind the wheel of the Aston Martin Vanquish S Volante to test one of the best-looking convertibles on the market
WHAT IS IT?
It’s a sad thought, really, that the Vanquish S could just be the last car Aston Martin produces that features a naturally-aspirated V12 engine under the bonnet.
Ever-tightening emissions regulations are consigning cars such as this to the history books at an alarming rate, replacing them with smaller, less-polluting turbocharged power plants instead.
While these blown engines may benefit from more power and a smaller appetite for fuel, they can’t quite match their naturally-aspirated ancestors when it comes to drama. And in this, the convertible Vanquish S Volante, you’re about as close to that drama as you can get.
The Vanquish S Volante is actually a bit of a dinosaur these days. Although it was only brought to market last year, it still shares a lot of its makeup with the original second-generation Vanquish Volante, launched back in 2013.
Key changes for the Vanquish S are more power from its mighty 6.0-litre V12 — up 27bhp to 592bhp, to be precise — as well as a new carbon-fibre front splitter and diffuser. There’s a restyled quad-exhaust system, too. Beneath the skin, Aston’s engineers have fettled the suspension, to improve the super-GT’s poise through the corners.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
This is the Aston’s party piece, and arguably the primary reason why you’d want to go out and spend close to €250,000 to get your hands on a Vanquish S Volante. The 6.0-litre naturally aspirated V12 develops a considerable 592bhp, with peak torque standing at 630Nm. The benchmark dash from 060mph is dispatched in 3.5 seconds, and the Aston will carry on to a 197mph top speed.
Now, fuel economy from a car with a whopping great V12 under the bonnet is never going to be amazing, but compared with rivals such as the Bentley Continental GT convertible and Ferrari California T, the Aston’s claimed 21.6mpg is roughly par for the course.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
There’s no question that there’s a certain sense of occasion that comes from getting behind the wheel of the Vanquish S Volante. Slide down into the cosseting leather seat, pop the overlydesigned glass key into the ignition, and the V12 engine barks into life.
While the folding fabric roof does allow you to take in more of that engine’s intoxicating soundtrack, the absence of a proper metal roof does mean that the Vanquish S Volante will never be quite as competitive as its coupe stable mate down a winding country road.
However, that’s not the end of the world. Even though the Volante may be more than 100kg heavier than its rangemate, it’s still offers keener drivers an exhilarating drive thanks to its wonderfully balanced chassis, compliant dampers and well-weighted steering.
HOW DOES IT LOOK?
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more attractive convertible than the Vanquish S Volante — no small feat considering the current crop of drop-top supercars.
The long, elegant bonnet flows down to an aggressive front end, which is accentuated by a racy new carbonfibre splitter.
At the back, a similarly sporty looking carbon-fibre diffuser has been added, while a new quad exhaust design hints at the Vanquish S’s increased performance. It’s a stunning-looking thing, and certainly one that attracts attention out on the road.
WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE?
The cabin is the drop-top Aston’s biggest let down. Yes, there’s plenty of leather and everything has been stitched together by hand, but you can’t help but think it looks rather dated — and even a bit haphazard in places.
This theme is continued by the centre console, which adopts a rather button-heavy approach to its design, as opposed to the more minimal layouts that are increasingly favoured by both premium and budget manufacturers. Then there’s the infotainment system, which looks practically prehistoric next to those found in the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GT C Cabriolet and Audi R8 Spyder.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?
Considering what you are paying for the privilege of owning an Aston Martin Vanquish S Volante, you’d hope standard equipment would be generous.
For that rather considerable sum of money, Aston Martin will throw in leather upholstery, 20-inch alloy wheels, plenty of carbon fibre and a premium Bang & Olufsen 13-speaker sound system. So at least you’re not feeling short-changed in the equipment department.
With that big 6.0-litre V12 under the bonnet, though, running costs are going to be pretty steep.
Aston Martin quotes a combined fuel consumption figure of 21.6mpg, while CO2 emissions stand at a steep 298g/km.
Aston Martin’s Vanquish S Volante isn’t without its
flaws. Sure, the power and soundtrack from the engine is addictive and it’s great fun on a windy road, but it’s let down by a cabin that doesn’t feel near as high-quality as the price tag would suggest.
Still, it has those dropdead gorgeous looks, is comfortable at low speed, highly entertaining on a challenging road and is likely to be one of the last Aston Martins to be powered by a naturallyaspirated V12 engine. That’s almost a good enough reason to buy one on its own.
The Aston Martin Vanquish S Volante could be the last of its type with a naturally-aspirated V12 engine.