Overall rating: 3.5/5
Aston Martin calls its new Vanquish Volante a super GT, but at it faces some particularly difficult competition that does more, for less.
In the metal 4/5
Nothing, absolutely nothing, turns heads like an Aston Martin, and the Vanquish Volante is no different. Lopping the roof off the coupé does nothing to detract from its appeal, the Volante's shape instantly recognisable as an Aston. For all its good looks though, it's arguably not distinct enough from its relations, Aston's relative conservatism in its styling being to its detriment. The carbon fibre body allows some interesting new shapes - the rear spoiler treatment in particular - but that aside the Vanquish does seem to be parked in something of a design cul-de-sac.
The interior is all familiar Aston Martin too, which means some beautiful finishing, though some quirks that either delight or frustrate. The instruments are there for decoration only, the digital display being the only way to read your speed easily, while the satnav and infotainment takes a lot of learning - if you're patient enough. Don't - as Aston did in our car - option the One-77 square steering wheel, as it adds nothing but more money to the list price, and looks and feels downright odd.
Driving it 3.5/5
'Super GT' is what Aston Martin says and there's no denying that's what is delivered. Firing up the 6.0-litre V12 does nothing to diminish its appeal, the naturally aspirated twelve making good use of its exhaust pipes with a rousing note. Press the angry red S on the bottom quarter of the wheel and it gets correspondingly louder, giving the Vanquish Volante the sort of devilish note that promises the kind of mind-adjusting performance that you'd anticipate with a car featuring a power figure not far shy of 600hp.
Which makes the first real stab of the right pedal a bit of a disappointment. Certainly the Vanquish Volante is quick - its 4.3-second 0-100km/h time underlines that - but it never feels as raw or animalistic in its delivery as the old DBS once did. The V12 delivers its best at the very top of its rev range, though the useful 620Nm peak torque doesn't arrive until quite late in the proceedings. The six-speed automatic gearbox only exacerbates this, tighter bends leaving you stabbing at paddles uncertain of the correct ratio. Choose second and you've a scant few revolutions left before needing third, though choose it on entry and there's a shortage of mid-range grunt. Certainly there's none of the rabid, other-worldly acceleration you'll experience in rivals like Porsche's 911 Turbo S Cabriolet - which is probably closest to the Vanquish in its rounded appeal - or more overtly sporting choices like Ferrari's 458 Spider.
Losing the roof has done little to rob the Vanquish of its stiffness, the aluminium structure resisting any flex, though Aston has tuned the suspension to suit the Volante's open top. It rides with remarkable composure in the standard setting, the two other damper choices (Sport and Track) only adding a busier ride on less than perfect surfaces. The body control it exhibits is impressive, so too is the response to the steering wheel, the Vanquish Volante coping even on roads that are more tarmac rally stage than grand touring in their topography. Yet, while there's no arguing with its ability there is with the intensity, the Vanquish Volante just not fizzing with the sort of passion that you'd expect it to given both its technical specification, the numbers associated with it and its lofty price.
What you get for your money 3/5
That list price of not far off €400,000 landed in Ireland is just the starting point. To it you can easily add at least tens of thousands of Euro in options, or more if you dip into Aston's Q division personalisation. That list price covers everything you could conceivably need, though so it should. The biggest problem for the Vanquish Volante is the breadth and quality of its competition, Ferrari's 458 Spider is cheaper, and would leave the Aston for dead as a sports car, while Bentley's Continental GTC Speed undercuts it significantly and does the crushing GT thing with aplomb. Porsche's 911 Turbo S Cabriolet mixes up both, at a price significantly under the Aston - even if it lacks its exclusivity.
The Vanquish Volante features a carbon fibre body, but an aluminium structure. The body hasn't been created in the black weave for any real weight saving advantage, Aston saying the difference is less than 10kg, but instead the ability to create more complex shapes and surfacing.
Given Aston Martin's relatively limited resources the Vanquish Volante is an impressive machine, though it's also one that's outclassed by its rivals. It's conceptually far too close to the Aston Martin DB9 too, not being distinct enough in how it drives and looks to justify the sizeable increase in price it represents over its older relation.