Another day, another Aston Martin not that I’m complaining. There’s something uniquely special about what many consider Britain’s answer to Ferrari. Except Aston Martin doesn’t have the same brash and showy implications the Prancing Horse has. Everyone loves an Aston Martin; young and old. No one flips-off an Aston Martin. It’s a symbol of elegance and sophistication.
While the DBS Superleggera Volante test car I had was dressed in a bright blue that would be more at home in a Katy Perry music video, it did so in a cool and collected way only an Aston Martin could.
You might be thinking “well you’ve already tested the DBS Superleggera coupe and the DB11 Volante, surely this can’t be much different” and you’d be right. This is pretty much a combination of the two but because of that it’s so much better than them. I won’t mince words around: the DBS Superleggera Volante is the pick of the current Aston Martin range. It’s the epitome of Aston Martin and after spending a few days with it here’s why.
Five Things I Liked About The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante
Let’s talk about the most obvious thing first: the DBS’ stunning design. The DBS coupe is already a handsome car as it but taking the roof off brings the drama up to 11. If I were to nitpick on the coupe’s design, the ‘floating’ C-pillar aspect bothered me the most. With the Volante that gets resolved by simply not having a C-pillar at all. The canvas soft top roof, which has an 8-layer construction, can be had in any colour of your choosing. The sky is literally the limit with the customisation, for a price. I maintain it’s hard to make this car look ungainly; it’s a stunner from every angle. The DBS Volante somehow manages to look both brutish and elegant, there’s a gentleman thug charm about it.
Glorious engine and exhaust noise
While the C-pillar from the coupe is gone, I’m glad to report the brilliant 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 has been carried over. The 533kW and 900NM figures remain unchanged, as is the 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Much like the coupe, the twin-turbo V12 doesn’t sound or behave like a turbocharged engine. There’s a very linear delivery of its power, max torque comes in from 1800rpm, so there’s near unlimited power on tap at any given moment. Drag out the revs all the way to its 7000rpm redline and you’ll be greeted with an intoxicating howl as those twelve cylinders reach a crescendo before you need to give the right paddle a whack to repeat the whole process. Lift off the throttle ever so slightly, and in Sport or Sport+ mode, volcanic eruptions start to happen at the rear as the exhausts let out pops and bangs that’ll make you question the legality of the stock exhausts. With the roof down you can enjoy them even more.
Top down cruiser character
Now, the Superleggera badges maybe a tribute to the coachbuilt cars from the mid-20th Century but the modern car isn’t exactly a ‘super light’. At 1863kg it’s not exactly what anyone would consider lightweight by any definition. That’s a full 200kg heavier than the coupe though it wasn’t that noticeable until you decided to take a corner a little too spiritedly. The coupe itself was no mountain crusher so taking the top off this Super-GT tips the scales more towards the cruisy ‘GT’ side than sporty. Which I’m completely fine with.
A usable exotic
The term ‘useable supercar’ gets thrown around far too often these days, yours truly is guilty of that, but the the DBS Volante truly is an exotic car you could use daily. Since it’s an Aston Martin and not some loud shouty Italian creation, you don’t need to worry about leaving parked outside your favourite restaurant at night. Everyone loves an Aston and won’t vandalise it. The engine is at the front, there’s a comfortable and useable interior in the middle, and the boot at the back can fit a couple soft bags. It has quite modern features such a 360-degree camera that helps out a lot in situations where you can’t quite place the front of the car because of that fragile carbon splitter. Leave it ‘D’ and in Comfort mode and you have a car that’s no more difficult to drive than a family sedan, albeit one with 533kW and 900NM of torque at your disposal.
Makes you feel like a million bucks
Would you rather step out of an Aston Martin or a Porsche? There’s something about this whole Aston Martin lifestyle thing that I could get used to. The feel-good factor of getting in and out of an Aston Martin is unlike any other car. Not even a Bentley feels this satisfying. Perhaps I’m just too much into this whole James Bond thing but driving an Aston Martin, even just to go pick up some groceries, felt like an event. You feel like the star of your own Sam Mendes film and while it doesn’t cost millions of dollars, it still does cost a substantial amount of money.
Five Things I Didn’t Like About The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante
Now, talking about something as vulgar as money isn’t something most Aston Martin owners would ever dare to do but you’re looking at a car that’s in the $500,000 ballpark. Half a million dollars to look and feel like a million dollars seems like a great deal on paper but there’s more to it than that. The running costs will be equally lavish. During my time with it, on a variety of driving conditions, I was getting an average of 20L/100km which is anything but frugal. Then again if you’re going to drop half a mil on a new Aston Martin you can afford to fill up its 78 litre fuel tank every 400 kilometre or so.
Interior is identical to the DB11
My biggest peeve with the DBS Superleggera is the identical interior to that of the DB11 Volante’s. Apart from some ‘chopped carbon’ trim scattered around the interior, for the large part the interior remained unchanged. Now, it’s fine in the $300,000 DB11 but when you’re forking out another $200,000 I’d expect a more bespoke interior. It’s not terrible, the interior is still a wonderful place to be in. There’s plenty of lovely soft high-end leather and it look and feels expensive and British, I just wish there was something uniquely DBS about it. Mind you, this isn’t the first time Aston Martin has done this. The previous generation DBS shared the same interior as the DB9 of the same era. However, while Aston Martin has made efforts to differentiate the design of their different models (look at the difference between the Vantage and DB11 for example), it’s a shame the DB11 to DBS transformation didn’t get much of those resources.
Needs updated tech
When I first drove a modern-era Aston Martin over two years ago the previous-generation Mercedes COMAND infotainment was a welcome change from Aston Martin’s old in-house system. But in those two years Mercedes’ tech has significantly advanced. The original agreement between Daimler and Aston Martin was that the British marque would use “previous generation” Mercedes tech, so perhaps it’s now time to update the tech in these cars. Or at the very least, add Apple CarPlay.
Rear seats not for adults
Like the DB11 Volante, the rear seats in the DBS Volante are best used when the roof is down. Adults won’t be the most comfortable at the back but could easily be used for carrying children over short distances or in emergency situations. I’d just use the rear seats for extra storage space.
Front tyres rub while turning
Now, I’m not sure if this was unique to the test car I had but at low speeds, like say in a parking lot, the front tyres had a knack of rubbing up against the inside of the wheel arches making a rather awkward noise. It was startling at first but I assumed it was to do with the rather large wheels. After a while it started to get quite frustrating and brings down some of the cool factor.