ASTON VANQUISH S VOLANTE
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
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