MOTORS: On Days Like These

I first fell in love with Aston Martins on screen. As a small boy obsessed with adventure and attracted to glamour, James Bond’s gadget laden DB5 caught my eye and my imagination and I wept proper tears when Charlie Croker’s beautiful DB4, along with two Jaguar E types and a Lamborghini
Muira were bulldozed by mobsters in the Italian Job. ‘Your car? Pretty car…’ says Mafia boss Altabani as the Aston tumbled down the cliffside. It still brings a lump to my throat admits Jonathan Fraser.

And so an obsession began but, aside from the brutish good looks of the V8 Volante of the seventies and eighties, convertible Astons have looked a little anodyne in my view rather than devastating like the DB4. That is until now as Aston Martin delivers its fastest convertible model in the company’s history with the 211mph top speed DBS Superleggera Volante.

Combining three iconic nameplates in one flagship model, the new DBS Superleggera Volante delivers all the evocative talent of the British marque’s critically-acclaimed Super GT flagship – the magnificent DBS
Superleggera – and blends it with classleading convertible technology creating the perfect blend of supercar performance and drop top drama. Volante is a name that can only be attributed to convertible cars bearing
the iconic Aston Martin wings badge.

Designed in-house under the guidance of Executive Vice President & Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman, the aim was to create the most beautiful flagship Volante on the market whilst retaining the coupe’s
powerful dynamics, aggressive poise and astonishing performance.

With the DBS Superleggera producing a spectacular and relentless level of performance, for the Volante, Aston Martin focussed on bringing that extra level of sensory overload that only an open-top Super GT can deliver inside the cabin. With the unique dynamics, beautiful yet brutish design and the unmistakable harmonics of Aston Martin’s 5.2-litre V12 engine, they have delivered a unique and unforgettable driving experience that is in line with the expectations of the Volante name.

Powered by Aston Martin’s own 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12, producing 715BHP 900Nm of torque, and with a top speed of 211mph, the DBS Superleggera Volante boasts ferocious acceleration covering 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds and 0-100mph in 6.7 seconds.

Continuing the aerodynamic masterpiece of the coupe model, commanding and exploiting the surface airflow to maximum effect, atthe front of the Volante the car’s splitter and air dam work in unison, accelerating airflow underneath the front of the car to deliver true downforce and assist cooling by feeding air to the front brakes. The new deeper side strake draws more air from the front wheel arch to reduce lift and aid high-speed stability.

Behind the front wheels, the ‘curlicue’ allows air to escape and flow smoothly along the car’s flanks, while the double diffuser at the rear allows air to exit cleanly and neutralise lift as efficiently as possible. A revised iteration – to accommodate the Volante’s clothed roofline – of the revolutionary Aeroblade ll system continues to deliver additional downforce at the car’s rear. At VMAX, DBS Superleggera Volante produces 177kg of downforce, just 3kg less than the coupe, an impressive feat when considering the car’s fundamental aerodynamic changes.

Each dynamic driving mode brings its own level of noise too, feeding the level of emotional character and connection. In GT mode, the engine note simmers, but select Sport or Sport Plus and the acoustics become progressively more intense. Conversely, when you wish to be discreet, ‘quiet start’ offers a low-key alternative to DBS Superleggera Volante’s otherwise rousing flare of revs on start-up.

900Nm of torque is fed via a carbon-fibre prop shaft to a new ZF 8-speed automatic transmission mounted at the back of the car. Strengthened to cope with the V12’s massive torque output, this transmission also has a shorter final drive for increased responsiveness and in-gear acceleration. Specially developed adaptive software gauges the conditions the car is operating in, along with the driver’s demands, to ensure the car is in exactly the right gear at the right time.

For the roof, an advanced fabric system allows for an innovative and beautiful formed flowing roof line. Incorporating eight layers of insulation materials and acoustically enhancing materials, the canopy greatly improves the comfort of the interior cabin for all occupants when up but allows a true orchestra of sound to pour into the cabin when retracted.

The authentic soundtrack delivered by the car’s powertrain is a critical hallmark of the Volante experience and typically, the DBS Superleggera Volante has been tuned to provide an incredible sound quality synonymous with an Aston Martin Super GT. Equipped with a quad exhaust system DBS Superleggera Volante delivers a pure, harmonic and authentic voice, unmatched by its rivals.

Aston Martin’s engineers have worked hard to ensure the best possible roof and rear package is achieved, while still delivering conflicting targets of styling and durability. With a class-leading stack height of 260mm for the car’s folded roof, DBS Superleggera Volante maintains a smooth seamless rear profile and maximised luggage capacity. Roof operation takes 14 seconds to open and 16 seconds to close and can be operated from
inside or, for added convenience, from the remote key within a two-metre radius of the car.

Exposed to conditions as extreme as the heat of Death Valley and the extremities of the Arctic Circle during development, the roof mechanism has been put through more than 100,000 cycles. Simulating 10 years of
usage into a one-month test, the functional capability of the roof  mechanism has been thoroughly tested although there’s been no word on whether they tested hitting it with a bulldozer in the Italian Alps.

As you would expect of Aston Martin, personalisation and customisation is key with the Volante’s hood available in eight distinct colours for starters. Colours include Bordeaux Red, Atlantic Blue and Titan Grey and the hood can be further personalised on the inside, with a further six Rokona headliners. For the first time on an Aston Martin Volante model, the window screen surround is available with a 2×2 twill carbon fibre finish, with the option to continue that theme to the car’s tonneau cover and rear waterfall. Large pieces of finely-woven carbon fibre pieces replace what was once swathed in leather and for the most exclusive specifications, tinted carbon fibre is also available for a show stopping supercar finish.

The price? Well you might have to pull off The Italian Job as the DBS Superleggera Volante is priced at an eye watering £247,500 before options so even Mr Bridger might bat an eyelid at that one.

Find out more at www.astonmartin.com

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