An open-topped (Volante in Aston Martin world) version of the sensational DBS Superleggera was always on the cards and we've had a chance to test its mettle. It's nigh-on identical to the coupe version under the skin and the necessary compromises aren't enough to overshadow what is a truly magnificent creation. All the better to hear the twin-turbo V12 engine do its thing.
In the Metal:
Lopping the roof off the DBS Superleggera has toned down the raw edginess of the shape a tad, lending it more elegance, but the Volante model is still obviously from the same aggressive school of car design. Up front, that's dominated by the huge grille and supplementary air intakes either side, while the open-topped car retains the wonderful evocative 'Superleggera' script next to the bonnet vents.
Apparently, the side strakes are deeper to better depressurise the front wheel wells and, despite the new rear end (and the lack of the coupe's extravagant air ducting), the Volante can still produce a quoted 177kg of downforce at its top speed - just a few kilos less than the coupe manages. That rear end uses the coupe's slender LED lights, but otherwise it's all new, with wider haunches and a lip spoiler, plus plenty of surfacing to help it fit in with the DBS style.
The fabric folding roof is the same as used in the Aston DB11 and it lowers in 14 seconds or raises in 16. This can be done via a button on the centre console or by holding down the open or close buttons on the key fob. Buyers can specify one of eight colours for the roof and one of six different headliners. Speaking of customisation, the windscreen surround can be finished in carbon fibre, as can the tonneau cover. Oh, and there are two new designs of 21-inch forged alloy wheel to choose from. A wind deflector is optional - and necessary.
Inside, the sky is the limit in terms of further customisation, but even the standard specification is tasty, with gorgeous leather stitching and sports seats up front. There are, theoretically, rear seats, but best to think of them as luggage space. The infotainment is a reskinned Daimler system and it's slick and easy to use.
You could drive the Aston DBS Superleggera Volante in its default GT settings and come away gobsmacked at its ferocious pace, flexibility and usability. But once you've dialled the modes up, first to Sport, and then to Sport Plus, I'd wager that you'll never look back. Usefully, the adaptive damping mode is separate to the rest of the sub-systems (i.e. throttle response, transmission, steering), but you'll soon discover that, unless the road surface is truly dire, the car is perfectly happy in its hardest damper setting most of the time. Yes, it's firm, but here that seems to mean a tighter control on body movements rather than an increase in discomfort. It's beautifully judged.
Admittedly, the razor-sharp throttle response in Sport Plus mode sometimes means less than smooth progress in stop-start traffic, but a more progressive throttle is only a button press away. Not that you'll want to turn off the histrionics of the exhaust, which are turned way up in the most 'focused' driving mode. It's reason enough to choose the Volante version of this car, so you can hear more of the noise more of the time. It is a great big 5.2-litre V12, after all and, while you can hear the exertions of the two turbochargers at times, they're drowned out by the wailing of the exhaust under full throttle.
Not that there are many public roads on which you can hold this car at full throttle for long... Indeed, it'll take a brave person with plenty of experience to hold the DBS's accelerator pedal all the way down for an extended period. To get the full 725hp at 6,500rpm means first of all sustaining the onslaught on the senses that is this car's 900Nm of torque. It's available from full throttle at just 1,800rpm and doesn't let up until 5,000rpm, giving the Superleggera breath-taking in-gear acceleration from any speed to one that's much much higher. You really don't need much space to safely get past slow traffic and you'll need a lot of self-restraint to keep your speed sensible.
It's all but irrelevant that the Volante is 100kg heavier than the DBS coupe. Sure, 100kg is a lot, but the V12 doesn't seem to notice the extra bulk. What's more, the weight distribution of the convertible version is a little better and, while its body is a bit less stiff in torsion, it's still exceptionally rigid, with no obvious shimmy and shake over poor roads. Massive carbon ceramic brakes are standard, as on the coupe, though Aston Martin has worked on the brake modulation, especially at low speeds. We found them to be nigh on perfect in a variety of situations throughout our day of testing.
What you get for your Money:
It's pointless listing the standard colour and trim specification here, as every single Aston buyer will specify it how they want it anyway. Key things that are included at the considerable price are carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive damping, leather and Alcantara interior trim, keyless entry, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, sports seats with heating and electric adjustment (with memory function), touchscreen infotainment, satnav, Bluetooth and more. You're paying supercar money for an open-topped supercar, basically.
The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante is an insanely fast open-topped supercar with huge torque one minute, then a perfectly civilised cruiser the next. Not to mention how great it sounds and how gorgeous it looks. For the lucky few in the world that can afford to spend a lot of money on such things, and prefer to have the option to drop the roof at times, there are few genuine alternatives.