Soft-top version of the fantastic sports GT
Aston’s striking new convertible grand tourer is armed with a Mercedes-sourced 503bhp twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine On sale Now Price from £159,900
IN 1885, A man named Elias J Baldwin entered a horse in the American Derby, which this horse duly won. Well, it would, because old Elias’s nickname was Lucky, on account of his extraordinarily good fortune in business. And how is this relevant, exactly?
The parallel is that the horse was called Volante, as is this new Aston Martin convertible, which Andy Palmer, Aston’s CEO, no doubt hopes will bring a slice of Lucky’s prosperity Aston’s way.
After all, Palmer’s stated mission is to build Aston into a viable, profit-making business. So far, he’s done rather well, but a smash-hit £159,900 convertible would prove a welcome boost to the company’s bottom line. But is it better than the Mercedes-benz S-class Cabriolet?
There’s a rule of thumb that says convertibles are not as good as the coupés on which they’re based. The reason? Chopping off a roof creates weakness, so bracing is needed to stiffen things up, thus adding weight. Weight is bad; it blunts the performance, ride and handling. And the DB11 Volante is 110kg heavier than the DB11 coupé and still not as rigid. Yet it hides these flaws well.
For a start, performance is stupendous. Its wonderful Mercedes-amg-sourced, twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 (there’ll be no V12 Volante) responds with barely any lag and pulls like a Shire horse from low revs. Yet it still gallops enthusiastically around to its redline and sounds grand with it.
Although it’s firmer than the S-class, it’s still compliant, so with the standard switchable dampers in Comfort mode it’ll ease you smoothly over all but the most rutted roads.
And while the Volante is not as nimble as the coupé, it’s not far off, and it’s more rewarding than the S-class. In fact, switch the dampers to Sport and the DB11 displays reassuring grip and consummate composure as it flows along a mountain pass. Just don’t treat the accelerator like an on-off switch out of corners; being quick and rear-wheel drive, it demands respect.
Where do the DB11 Volante’s faults lie? Well, the eight-speed automatic gearbox can be slow-witted when the steering wheel paddles are used. The grabby brakes are irksome – they make it hard to drive smoothly in traffic – and so, too, is the rumble of road noise on the motorway. That’s with the roof up; drop it – this can be done in 14 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph – and it’s pleasantly bluster-free. Visibility out of the tiny rear screen isn’t great, either, so the standard rear parking sensors and rear-view camera are welcome.
The Volante is more intimate and sporting inside than the S-class Cabriolet and there’s enough room up front for taller adults. It’s the rear that’s tight; despite Aston’s claim of more space than the outgoing DB9 Volante, those back seats are diminutive.
Even with the roof up to create more space, the boot only swallows two carry-on suitcases and two soft bags.
So where does that leave us? This is a market that’s about to get interesting; the new Ferrari Portofino is due soon, while an allnew Bentley Continental GT Convertible is also imminent. But, right now, you have a simple choice: for space, comfort and luxury, it has to be the S-class, but for pure excitement and driving pleasure, buy the DB11 Volante.
DB11 Volante has some rear seats, but they’re cramped
Drop-top weighs 110kg more than the equivalent coupé