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Aston Martin DBS Volante -- Click above for high-res image gallery

When you love the performance of a particular coupe, it's not often that you get to hop in the convertible version and say to yourself, "So... you mean I can have the same thing with the top down?" But in between the tight and relentless esses of Monterey's Carmel Valley Road, that's what we found ourselves debating. What we settled on was this: While the handling envelope of the DBS coupe is excellent, the envelope of the DBS Volante is, well, excellent. Follow the jump for our thoughts.

Photos copyright ©2009 Jonathon Ramsey, Damon Lavrinc / Weblogs, Inc.

Aston's coupes tug at several of our senses – and thoroughly at that – in a way that isn't merely competent components living together, but as a living, breathing organism that speaks to you. The company's convertibles, though, will not be forgotten, primarily because they are exactly what we want in roofless motoring: everything from the coupe, without a top. It doesn't happen often, and especially not when it comes to performance cars.

Yet that is what all of the company's roadsters deliver – same performance, more sun. The DBS Volante doesn't veer from that assessment. However, we did find something new in the Aston script with this car. It was so good at what it did that we quickly forgot what we were driving, and didn't care to remember.

Allow us to explain: the DBS coupe is a hard-edged beast covered in aluminum and stitched leather. Put the top down on the DBS Volante, and you're gently cruising in a hard-edged beast covered in aluminum and stitched leather but with a cabin full of glorious sunlight. Nothing new there.

The DBS, though, isn't a beast that wants only to cruise. It wants to run. It loves to run. And when it runs, the back of it is alive with twin baritone squalls. In the DBS Volante, those V12 sirens aren't somewhere "back there," they're in the back seats, right behind your headrest, so close it's like they're trying to climb into the front seats to see where they're taking you. The noise from that 6.0-liter V12, which produces 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, is simply audacious.

And the chassis is just as good. Sail into a corner with high speed and extra gusto, the car will make sure you sail out the other end in the right direction. The car scrabbles just a hair when powering through unkindly surfaced corners, but that's more about the car itself than the lack of a top. It isn't perfect, but it is most excellent. The DBS Volante will shake and scuttle more from the Bang & Olufsen stereo than it will from any maneuver.

But then there's that improved Touchtronic transmission, and that is so close to perfect that we'll go ahead and call it perfect. It shifts faster than before and delivers on every promise – and we mean every single promise – of what a "flappy paddle" transmission can be. Shifts are instant and seamless in every situation we could come up with. And because the exhaust note, the one right behind you, is downloading information on available revs and power straight into your auditory canal, you never have to look at the gear selector display. The sound is the only shift indicator you need.

Which is why when we got to the Come Conquer Me section of Carmel Valley Road, all of a sudden, the car didn't matter at all. The only thing that mattered was what it could do. We didn't have time to think that we were in a death match with physics and asphalt – and winning – in a convertible Aston Martin, and we didn't care. We only thought, "Keep doing it..."

As a car and a package, the DBS Volante is exquisite. As a convertible, it's that, times two, plus a whole sky full of sun. And thankfully, it still looks good with its top up... but why would you do that? If it's raining, just take the DBS coupe.

Second Look:

Jonathan's assessment of the DBS's dynamics is spot-on – a testament as to how far Aston has come in its quest to make the ultimate drop-top GT. Unlike the DB9 Volante, which traded a bit of spice for cowl shake and sunlight, the DBS' transition from coupe to convertible is as seamless as its power delivery. When transitioning from push to shove, the Volante exhibits the slightest trace of flex, but even then, you're running so close to the edge that the risk of intimacy with nearby trees and forest creatures is your only concern.

The soundtrack is, in a word, glorious. Nail the long pedal to the floor and your neck cranes around to see what just drove by ("Oh, that's me!") and while the transmission is truly superb, there were a few moments during our drive where we grabbed a lower gear only to find we were still stuck in third when we desperately needed second. A quick press of the "Sport" button (which only affects the gearbox) seemed to rectify the issue, delivering crisp shifts as timely as a Swiss train (or Jaeger LeCoultre's own DBS-branded chronograph).

Although we weren't completely enamored by the coupe's look when it debuted (there was an air of over SEMAfication), the Volante comes across as more subdued – elegant and timeless, with enough pomp and circumstance to make any excursion a life-affirming event. With the standard DBS you get the world. With the Volante you get the sun, moon and stars – and carnal congress with one of the most exhilarating exhaust notes available to (near) mortals.

- Damon Lavrinc

Photos copyright ©2009 Jonathon Ramsey, Damon Lavrinc / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      What are you talking about when you say, "It doesn't happen often, and especially not when it comes to performance cars."

      I can think of a dozen examples but most notably:
      Bugatti Veryon/Gran Sport
      Ferrari F430/Spyder
      Lamborghini Gallardo/Spyder
      • 5 Years Ago
      A little overpriced but beautiful nonetheless.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Can you have it with an automatic transmission?
        • 5 Years Ago
        That slight hush and sound of gears interchanging with a slightly resistant feel to the beauty of a carefully crafted shifter fitting comfortable in one's right (or left depending on where you are) hand.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Only a mad-man would neuter a car that has such amazing handling and engine with a fail-box... It's probably one of life's greatest pleasures to shift the gears of such an amazing machine!!!
        Would you like something to pleasure your girl for you while you lay down and relax? Because if she's hot, I'll be happy to do the job for you...
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Serge

        You deserve your own Aston for that comment.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Loving the color.
      • 5 Years Ago
      is it wrong that i look at these pictures and am a bit turned on?
      • 5 Years Ago

      why do american always shout OVERPRICED?

      USA has not any vihicle that gets produced in the same way as cars like this, pagani, koenigsegg, ferrari, lambourgini, buggati, etc, etc, etc.

      each one build/assembled by handcraft.
      where it takes something like a week or more to assemble it.
      the best wood/leather/materials the world has to offer.

      when i peaked @ pictures of the SSC aero kitcar.
      the doorpanels don't match up with the dash.
      ugly welding under hood.
      a cheap china imported rearview mirror/lcd screen.
      no proper engine
      no proper headlights.
      no propetary exterior, diablo ripoff.

      do not forgot that only the best of the best the region has offer work for these companies.
      engineers, are not simple engineers, but doctor engineers.
      example: Dr. Ing h.c. Ferdinand Porsche, this is what you see @ the doorbell of their houses.

      europe has an ADULT tax system.
      gasoline is wel over 6us$.
      a single/unmarried person in germany sees only 50% of his bruto wage on his bankaccount.
      european history is over 10 times as old than that from USA.
        • 5 Years Ago

        'Compared to a 430 or a Gallardo, it just does not compare.'

        you definitly hit the spot there.
        both are 'mass' produced models.

        the models that help both lambourgini (v10, Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 € 248.746) and ferrari(v8) to set black numbers instead of red ones.
        both are made on 'regular' production lines.
        they just a lilte more exclusive than a porsche or corvette.

        i haven't seen how the aston get produced.
        bot i do know the gallardo shares parts with audi and the ferrari shares with Maserati on these models.

        i also seen dashboard pictures from the Aston, i like the real crystal glass startbutton.

        i also think the name 'Aston Martin' sounds more exclusive.
        their typical family face on their cars.

        i think the Aston Martin DBS Volante( € 233.484) is more related to the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano( € 310.159).

        Mercedes-Benz CL 63 AMG € 252.526,00

        after a litle research i found dutch prices, my conclusion is ..... the aston isn't that exspensive.
        you get a neat v12 and a nice shape.
        more exclusive than a mercedes and les attention calling than a ferrari or lambourgini.
        just right.

        atleast for me, if i could afford it.
        i would take a aston anyday over a mercedes, lambo or ferrari.

        p.s. i did, but somehow this blog has an error and doesn't post my reply, nor do i get confirmation mails.
        so ....


        Duesenberg, someone should undust it.

        • 5 Years Ago
        First of all you can reply to me by using the reply button under my comments.

        Secondly how do you know that I am American? I could be from anywhere.

        I drive an overpriced 6 figure German car so I know what an overpriced car looks like and this is definitely one by a mile. Compared to a 430 or a Gallardo, it just does not compare.
        • 5 Years Ago
        youre comparing a kit car to a ferrari... yeah... ferraris are better made. good point?

        then you finish with we're older, have high gas prices and get taxed more...

        how does this refute the point that the DBS volante is seen as overpriced? it costs more than most houses, almost by definition its overpriced. but thats a luxury car for you.

        accidentally i assume, you do bring up a good point. there are no premium american manufacturers. our closest would be cadillac i guess...which is aiming way to low with BMW. i wish caddy would go premium and compete against bentley, RR, and AM. let buick aim for lexus/bmw/audi and the ilk.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's with the Boot not sealing flat? Look at the close up on the DBS badge, or even the full rear shot.
      I love the look of Aston's vehicles, but that's, quite frankly, unacceptable for a body panel to be that far off on any car above $20k, let alone $270k+.
      • 5 Years Ago
      by the way, i recently heard on autoweek.nl
      that a chevy camaro v6 wil cost ya 72.000€ in the netherlands.

      witch in european eyes are real bad quality cars.
      i only see the 300C, voyager, sometimes, very sometimes a dodge voyager, very sometimes a grey imported 05+ mustang (@ non official car showroom, filled with ferrari, aston martin, etc, etc) and a few rebadged daewoo's, witch a totaly crap.
      the faq that rebadged daewoo's sell: because some people just don't care and want a cheap car.

      the most beatifull american cars ever produced is the chevy '57 bel air, viper and next the chrysler 300c.
      the rest is all crap.

      i have seen a viper and some corvette.
      aside from their spectacular exterior (atleast viper has) on the inside they look like a japanese car, because of their cheap plastic.

      who is going to pay 100k+€ on a car, when a japanese looks more spectacular on the inside.

      the 300c has a realy close european styling interior.
      but i stil wouldn't buy one, not even second hand.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just what about the convertible is "more subdued"? All the scoops and add-ons are exactly the same as the coupe, with only different wheels and no top.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Gorgeous car.

      If I say much more, like the last Aston Martin post that came across, the comment cop might call me names. :rolleyes:

      • 5 Years Ago
      Why can any convertible car (even the really nice expensive ones) never have a nice roomy back seat? UGH! The most roomiest seat I've seen in a convertible is the one in the back of the newer Chrysler Sebring convertibles.

      Yeah. A SEBRING. Too bad these companies like Aston Martin and BMW have no idea how tall a 6'5" person actually is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well then Aston martin and almost every other auto company doesn't cater to rich tall people, oh well, I guess everyone has to be a short stub to be able to have fun.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why is a 6'5" person in the back seat of a convertible? or any 2-door car?

        Catering to every possible permutation of seating arrangements is not that practical.

        Maybe someone should come out with a new 4-door convertible, like the old Lincoln Continental was, if there is really a market for a convertible with four full sized seats.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're obviously not the target demographic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Kind of sad that the 2010 XKR makes 510hp and 460 tq and this 6 liter V12 makes 510hp and 420tq for what.... $200k more? (cad). Not that power is everything, but still.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is automotive pornography. It should be X rated, wrapped in cellophane and put in the back where people whom have no appreciation for such beauty are denied access and are forced to look at brochures filled with naked, ugly Asian and American (and BMW) cars posed in odd and offensive settings doing inexplicable things to one another.
      Ooops, sorry, got all Clarckson there for a minute.
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