THE PORTOFINO AL­TER­NA­TIVE

Motor Trend (USA) - - Contents -

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.

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