Aston Martin DBS Volante (2009) review

2014-11-30 Read: 462x

First Drives

Can you have a supercar too far? Not according to Aston Martin. The good folk of Gaydon aren't afraid to fill each and every niche with sports and supercars of every persuasion and nuance. They'll do you a V8 in open or closed form, oriented to comfort or slinging around the Nurburgring. They'll even do a V8 with a V12, if you see what we mean. So it's no surprise that they're now extending the brutal DBS range in every which direction – producing this DBS Volante for those wanting a 510bhp kick while mainlining the rapidly blurring scenery flying past their nostrils.

We've just driven the DSB Volante (2009) and can confirm it's up to the usual Aston standards. Beautiful looks? A given. Firepower to match? The DBS's musclebound 6.0-litre V12 is present and correct and primed to squirt this roadster to 62mph in a little over four seconds and on to 191mph. The finesse to make that performance count? We're about to find out.

Aston Martin DBS Volante (2009): first impressions

CAR's first impressions are all positive. The DBS's chiselled shape looks crisp, purposeful, slightly over-adorned by addenda to distinguish this from its DB9 roots, but still achingly gorgeous. You can fairly criticise Aston of rinsing out its current styling vocabulary, but the DB9's inherent shape is so darn addictive we're not going to argue.

The transformation to Volante follows the DB9 norm. A fabric hood fashioned from glove-like Thinsulate lowers in 14 seconds to provide the fresh air thrills and whirrs back into place to provide motorway comfort. It's a neat roof and our only quibble is the buffeting you'll be subject to at even 60mph (although we didn't get to test the optional wind deflector).

Is it comfy?

It depends how big you are. Taller reviewers won't fit – the driver's seat simply doesn't extend back far enough (blame those rather ridiculous and redundant rear seats). But if you aren't too big to fit, the materials are first rate and it feels beautifully crafted.

But then you thumb the starter button, the 6.0-litre V12 fires up and you'll forget such fripperies. A entire symphony of mechanical noise accompanies every milimetre of throttle travel – brought all the closer because of the lack of roof. Time to get driving.

Does the DBS Volante go as well as it looks?

Considering it looks a million dollars, the answer has to be yes. This car is biblically fast, and the responses are unsullied by forced induction: just stroke the throttle and the DBS responds as instantly as only a big-cc sports car can. It feels every inch as fast as its 4.3sec 0-62mph claim.

But it's the way the DBS delivers its punch that impresses most. Controls are meted out with a deft accuracy totally at odds with its hard man image. The clutch and pedals are well judged, being neither too stiff nor artificially weighted. Its inherent balance allows you to probe the DBS's talents without scaring you witless before you've even passed first base.

And through the corners?

The DBS scores here too. Although they've added 100kg to the kerbweight of the DBS coupé, you'd barely know it. The Volante has brilliant brakes, hauling down the roadster from warp speed time and time again (and the pedal feel is, again, a marvel).

Speed adjusted, you steer the DBS Volante into a corner. It's a decent rack, but it never comes alive the way a 911's would. It's accurate enough, but just never bubbles with the telepathic qualities we'd hoped for.

The DBS rides brilliantly though, and you'll not want for traction as you slingshot down the next straight.

Aston Martin DBS Volante: the verdict

There's so much to love about the DBS Volante. It's another brilliant Aston, but one compromised by that big price premium (is it really worth £50k over a regular DB9 V12 Volante?) and those comedy rear seats.

Get past those shortfalls and Aston's most expensive and powerful open-top sports car ever starts to justify its price. 


How much? £167,851
On sale in the UK: September 2009
Engine: 5935cc 48v V12, 510bhp @ 6500rpm, 420lb ft @ 5750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.3sec 0-62mph, 191mph, 17.3mpg, 388g/km
How heavy / made of? 1810kg/aluminium and carbonfibre
length/width/height in mm 4721/1905/1280


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Aston Martin DBS V12 specifications

Engine: 5.935 cc 48-valve V12

Transmission: 6-Speed Manual (optional 6-Speed Automatic)

Drivetrain: RWD (Rear Wheel Drive)

Kerb Weight: 1,695 kg (3,737 lb)

City fuel economy: 12 mpg-US (20 L/100 km; 14 mpg-imp)

Highway fuel economy: 18 mpg-US (13 L/100 km; 22 mpg-imp)

Horsepower: 510 hp (380 kW; 517 PS) at 6500 rpm

Torque: 420 lb·ft (569 N·m) at 5750 rpm

Wheelbase: 107.9 in (2,741 mm)