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The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera coupe found instant favour for its combination of striking, muscular looks and brutally potent 715bhp, 900Nm of torque biturbo V12. As the best model in Aston’s reinvented range it’s hard to imagine how the brutish super-GT could be improved. Could the new open-top DBS Superleggera Volante be the answer?
In terms of outright performance there’s no open-top car to touch it. With the same 340kmph top speed as the coupe (roof up or down!) the DBS Superleggera Volante is the world’s fastest production convertible. This unsurprisingly also makes it the fastest soft-top in Aston’s history.
Beneath the long, immaculately sculpted bonnet sits Aston’s own 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12. It is linked to an eight-speed ZF automatic (the only gearbox option) by a carbonfibre propshaft. Producing the same 715bhp and 700Nm (the latter from just 1800rpm through to 5000rpm) as in the DBS coupe, the Volante hits 100kmph from a standstill in 3.6sec and 161kmph in 6.7sec. This is just a few tenths shy of the coupe due to the drop-top being 100kg heavier.
Discreetly effective ducted aerodynamics were a key element of innovation in the DBS Superleggera coupe. So you might expect the DBS Superleggera Volante’s fabric hood to interrupt some of the clever airflow management. However, revisions to the rear diffuser and Aeroblade II work in unison with the front splitter and functional side strakes. This ensures that there is only a fractional drop in downforce, to 177kg (from 180kg) at V-max.
As ever with Aston Martin, great attention has been paid to the styling of the DBS Superleggera Volante. The only perceptible difference is the fabric roof. In reality the rear haunches are subtly but entirely different. They’re fractionally wider, while the rear deck continues the raised lines that lead back from the bonnet and continue along the roof of the coupe. Roof raised or lowered it’s a devastatingly handsome car.
Much like the coupe, which is about as big a compliment as you can pay to a convertible car. Especially one that rides on 21-inch rims, boasts more than 700bhp and has a sporting chassis set-up. Of course there is a price to pay in terms of structural rigidity. But even nasty sequences of potholes or ridges struggle to betray you’re in anything other than an anvil of a car.
Roof up you’re cocooned in a very high level of luxury and comfort. With so much torque from so few revs the Volante makes imperious progress, with the merest squeeze of your right foot providing ample propulsion. It fosters a tremendous feeling of confidence and relaxation that’s utterly seductive and surprisingly soothing. At least for a car that’s capable of 340kmph with roof raised or lowered.
Lower the roof – a process that can be done at speeds of up to 48kmph and takes just 14 seconds. And the Volante brings another dimension to the DBS experience. With windows and anti-buffeting screen raised you’re treated to a refreshing ruffle of breeze, but nothing intrusive, even at speed. The turbo V12 isn’t quite so vocal as Aston’s old naturally aspirated motors. But there’s still plenty to enjoy in its potent, turbine-like growl, with a few pops and crackles on a closed throttle. The eight-speed ZF auto is a slick and willing partner, and a pleasure to leave to its own devices or work via the paddleshifters.
Dynamically the Aston Martin DBS Volante has a tremendous breadth of ability. Never less than responsive, nonetheless it happily settles into an easy cruise and rides with a pliancy that belies the size of its boots (315 section rears!). Toggling between dynamic modes via the steering wheel-mounted button is a bit of a fiddle. You have to cycle all the way through them rather than go back and forth. But each stage is nicely judged and brilliantly effective.
Unsurprisingly, when you do decide to open the taps the DBS Superleggera Volante erupts forwards, punched down the road by all that torque. Honestly it feels a bit much to start with. At least in the lower gears, the ferocity with which this 1863kg (dry) machine is hurled is massive, but you soon learn to squeeze into the throttle in fourth or fifth and marvel at the seamless and apparently limitless reach. Either way it’s an epically potent car.
Fortunately the brakes are mighty, and now easier to modulate thanks to revised brake booster calibration. Still this is very much a super-GT and responds best to being driven as such. That’s not to say it won’t smoke through a corner like a Vantage if you disable the ESP. But its party piece is the way it switches between suave and savage as mood and opportunity takes you.
With a starting price of Rs 2.14 crore (excluding Indian taxes and duties) the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante is Rs 19 lakh more than the coupe. Rivals are few and far between, for even Bentley’s new super-luxe W12-engined Continental GTC is priced well below and doesn’t offer the same level of performance. Being an Aston there’s plenty of scope to personalise, but it comes at a price. Of the two Volantes we tried on the launch one was priced at a little over Rs 2.44 Crore (excluding Indian taxes and duties) with options. The other is just shy of an eye-watering Rs 2.61 Crore (excluding Indian taxes and duties). That’s big money for sure, but right now it’s hard to think of a more desirable convertible.
Meanwhile its hardtop coupe sibling, the DBS Superleggera, which Ed drove a couple of months back, is expected to launch in India in 2020 at an estimated price tag of Rs 5 crore, including Indian taxes and duties.