THE PORTOFINO ALTERNATIVE
2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante Angus Mackenzie
Aston Martin’s new DB11 Volante shares its Amg-sourced 503-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 with the DB11 V8 Coupe launched last year. So too for the eight-speed automatic transmission, suspension, brakes, hood, front fenders, and doors, along with much of the underlying structure ahead of the windshield.
What’s different? Apart from the obvious, the bone line along the new rear fender now runs 0.4 inch higher over the wheel opening than on the Coupe before curving gently downward toward the tail, and the top surface of the fender is more horizontal. Aston engineers also worked hard to ensure the cloth roof folded down into a stack just 10.2 inches tall.
As a result, the DB11 Volante is endowed with a low, languidly voluptuous profile few modern convertibles can match. And unlike many convertibles, it’s achingly gorgeous even with the roof raised. The backlite is impressively fast for a soft-top, the roofline streaming back from the windshield header to the trunk in a single glorious arc.
The Volante weighs 242 pounds more than the V8 Coupe, or about as much as the V-12-equipped DB11. About 99 pounds of that increase is the result of strengthening the body structure to compensate for the lack of a roof. The rest is down to the eight-layer Webasto cloth roof and the power mechanism that allows it to be raised or lowered in 14 to 16 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph.
The soft top and lighter V-8 engine mean the mass is distributed differently compared to the two coupes—the Volante’s front-to-rear weight distribution is 47/53 percent, compared with the V12 Coupe’s 51/49 percent and the V8 Coupe’s 49/51 ratio. Front spring and stabilizer bar rates are the same as the V8 Coupe’s, but the rear springs are 13 percent stiffer.
The extra mass does little to dull the performance: With a claimed 0–60 acceleration time of about 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph, the Volante is as quick as the V8 Coupe.
The Volante feels impressively plush, calm, and controlled even when hustled along narrow, winding mountain roads. It’s more agile than the nose-heavy V12 Coupe, more measured than the V8 Coupe ... and more involving than Ferrari’s Portofino, the Volante’s direct rival in terms of price, presence, and performance of intended function.
With 88 more horses under the hood and an active torque-vectoring E-diff, the Ferrari is unquestionably faster and sharper. But even with the shocks switched to Sport Plus mode, the Aston rides more fluidly and has more communicative steering.
With the roof down, side windows up, and wind blocker in place, the Volante’s cockpit is comfortably snug. However, opening up that beautifully brogued leather interior to the elements means bright sunlight occasionally renders the TFT instrument panel unreadable.
The very first Aston Martin Volante, built in 1965, sold last year at auction for $1.7 million. It’s safe to say a 2019 DB11 Volante won’t be worth the equivalent in 50 years. But that’s not the measure of this car. In terms of the here and now, its stunning good looks, sophisticated road manners, and everyday usability make it the most accomplished Volante that Aston Martin has ever built. n
SPECS 2019 Aston Martin DB11 Volante: Base Price $219,581 Vehicle Layout Front-engine, RWD, 2+2-pass, 2-door convertible Engine 4.0L/503-hp/513-lb/ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 Transmission 8-speed auto Curb Weight 4,150 lb (mfr) Wheelbase 110.4 in L...
RIVAL The gorgeous Aston Martin DB11 Volante is more involving to drive than the Ferrari Portofino.