The in­tro­duc­tion of the Van­quish S coupe gave As­ton’s age­ing su­per-gt a new lease of life, and this soft-top ver­sion is equally as de­sir­able

Evo - - CONTENTS REGULARS - Pho­tog­ra­phy by As­ton Par­rott

YYOU THOUGHT THE Van­quish was done with, didn’t you? Af­ter all, the DB11 is rolling out of Gay­don in healthy numbers, we’ll have driven a V8-en­gined vari­ant by the time you read this, and the DB11 Volante will be along soon af­ter. Surely two V12-en­gined GT cars is one too many for a firm the size of As­ton?

It seems not. A re­place­ment for the cur­rent Van­quish will be along even­tu­ally (there’s a new V8 Van­tage to hit the road first), but for now the car has en­tered its twi­light years hav­ing been freshly in­vig­o­rated in Van­quish S form, with one mi­nor facelift left to go. And that’s great news, be­cause the Van­quish S re­ally is one very spe­cial As­ton Martin. Or, rather, two very spe­cial As­ton Martins, be­cause the Van­quish S is now avail­able in both coupe and soft-top Volante forms.

The Volante S fol­lows the same recipe as the S coupe ( evo 235), which means a raft of well-wrought changes to the engine, chas­sis and styling, the net re­sult be­ing a 595bhp, rear-wheel-drive V12en­gined road­ster that man­ages the rare achieve­ment of looking as good with a can­vas roof as it does with layers of alu­minium and car­bon­fi­bre above the oc­cu­pants’ heads.

In a world of tur­bocharg­ing, there is some­thing hope­lessly ro­man­tic and hugely sat­is­fy­ing about be­ing re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing 12 fu­el­hun­gry nat­u­rally as­pi­rated cylin­ders to life. From the split sec­ond of the first whir of the starter mo­tor, through the mo­ment the crank spins those dozen pis­tons into life, to the crackle from the ex­haust, ev­ery de­tail sug­gests re­fined thug­gery. And it’s won­der­ful.

A freer-breath­ing air in­take and a re­cal­i­brated man­age­ment sys­tem are re­spon­si­ble for the 30bhp power in­crease, with the larger in­let man­i­folds al­low­ing for greater vol­umes of air to be in­gested and mixed with the V Power at higher engine speeds. It’s a gen­uine gem of an engine, meld­ing old-school, big-lunged ca­pac­ity with a 21stcen­tury elec­tric spark when asked to re­act to even the mildest of throt­tle in­puts.

Truth be told, the first few thou­sand revs are enough for the eight-speed Touchtronic III auto to surge you for­wards and the 5.9-litre V12 to wrap you in au­ral de­lights that few other cars can de­liver with such au­then­tic­ity. There’s no more torque than in the pre­vi­ous, non-s Van­quish (465lb ft of the stuff), but more of it is avail­able more of the time. As­ton Martin claims 3.7sec to 62mph should you en­gage launch con­trol, a

cou­ple of tenths be­hind the coupe as a re­sult of the 180kg added by body stiff­en­ing and the fold­ing roof mech­a­nism. The slightly in­fe­rior aero­dy­nam­ics also knock a few mph off the top speed, down from 201mph to a measly 197mph.

As with the coupe, the S Volante has been sub­ject to some mild chas­sis jig­gery-pok­ery, with re­vi­sions to ge­om­e­try, spring rates and anti-roll bars, but the Volante also gets its own adap­tive dam­per rates, pri­mar­ily to deal with the ad­di­tional weight and the change in weight dis­tri­bu­tion.

Los­ing the roof nat­u­rally has an ef­fect on the car’s struc­tural stiff­ness, but the Volante’s charm dis­tracts you from the lost nthde­gree of pre­ci­sion com­pared with the coupe. Drop the roof and the in­te­rior mir­ror fid­gets over poor B-roads while the steer­ing wheel gives the odd wig­gle and kick where a coupe’s wouldn’t, but you’re talk­ing sin­gle-digit de­grees of change and with that ma­jes­tic V12 and an English sum­mer’s evening play­ing out above you (it doesn’t rain all the time over here, just most of the time) there are few finer places to be.

Push the S Volante hard and you’re still part of a richly re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in a car that masks its girth and weight, one that sprints across the sur­face with a con­trolled gait and a sat­is­fy­ing feel­ing of con­trol and pur­pose. The fine-tun­ing has re­sulted in a su­per- GT car that’s more re­ac­tive and en­thralling than many will give it credit for.

The Van­quish S Volante is also more in­volv­ing and be­spoke than Mercedes-amg’s S65 Cabri­o­let and so far ahead of Fer­rari’s Cal­i­for­nia T in pretty much ev­ery con­ceiv­able area that its only di­rect ri­val is the out­go­ing Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT Con­vert­ible, a car it thor­oughly out­drives, out-punches and out-poses, as has al­ways been the case.

Two-plus-two con­vert­ibles aren’t ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, and you’ll find few top­ping the must-own lists of those in the evo of­fice but, should you have the de­sire, you might as well buy the best, which in this case will re­quire a call to Gay­don. Stu­art Gal­lagher (@stu­artg917)

Left: V12 breathes more freely and re­sponds more sharply than ever, thanks chiefly to new in­duc­tion sys­tem

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