By Alex Kramer
Not content with simply having some of the finest luxury sports cars on the planet, Aston Martin has upped the ante in open-air motoring with its new DBS Volante convertible. Like the DBS Coupe (featured in the recent James Bond movie, “Quantum of Solace”) on which it is based, the DBS Volante is a statement in automotive design, combining supercar performance, sculpted elegance, and unbridled luxury.
We were fortunate enough to be invited to test the DBS Volante on a nice late-summer day, perfect for some top-down driving. Although we could only spend a short amount of time behind the wheel, a brief spin in the hills outside of Los Gatos, CA, confirmed that this is truly one of the finest automobiles on the road today.
Under the hood of each DBS Coupe and Volante is a handbuilt 6.0-liter V12 engine that produces 510 hp and a simply gorgeous exhaust tone. Nail the throttle and the engine sings all the way to 7,000 rpm, pausing only briefly to let the 2nd generation Touchtronic 6-speed automatic transmission work its way through the gears. Acceleration is so authoritative and effortless it becomes addicting, especially once you get up to speeds that are well past any posted speed limit. It’s almost tragic that drivers in this country will only be able to taste the 191 mph claimed top speed on a track or deserted air strip.
But this is no mere drag race pony car. The DBS Volante is that rare automobile that offers track worthy performance and handling while still being easy to drive around town. Steering feel is pleasantly light, but also wickedly precise, which combined with wide and grippy tires makes for surprisingly nimble handling for a car of this size. The suspension features an Adaptive Damping System with a sport mode that noticeably firms and tightens things up, while still retaining a decent amount of comfort. Also helping keep everything under control is a carbon ceramic brake system that both saves weight and eliminates brake fade.
To retain the same world-class performance as the DBS Coupe, Aston Martin engineers utilized aluminum and carbon fiber to bolster the chassis, and designed a lightweight fabric top to keep weight gain to a minimum. The end result is one of the few convertibles that gains all the benefits of open-air driving and loses almost nothing when it comes to on-road performance and handling. With the roof closed, the car is impressively quiet for a soft top. Should you have the need to feel the wind in your hair, a simple push of a button and the top fully retracts in just 14 seconds, at speeds up to 30 mph. With such a glorious engine to listen to, we’d keep the top down whenever possible.
All this talk of handling and performance almost misses the main point of owning an exotic luxury automobile: elegance and style. Fortunately, the DBS Volante has both of these in spades. From the beautiful full grain Chancellor red leather interior, to the tasteful use of carbon fiber in the interior and exterior trim, to the 1,000 Watt Bang and Olufsen Beosound audio system with retracting tweeters, the DBS Volante will never be confused with your run of the mill German or Japanese luxury car. Although not as instantly recognizable as a Ferrari or other Italian exotic, the exterior design is exquisite in its own right, featuring a suitably sleek silhouette and Aston Martin’s signature front grill.
“Mr. Bond, your convertible is ready.”
With the exclusivity of being Aston-Martin’s top-of the-line convertible and an “If you have to ask…” price tag, the DBS Volante is tailor made for the most discerning car buyers, those who will spare no expense to own an automobile with no compromises. Sure, there are flashier supercars with more power and performance, and luxury saloons that provide even more pampering, but it is the rare car that combines these elements as perfectly as the Aston Martin DBS Volante.
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