Road Test: An Aston Martin more Beckham than Bond
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Forget James Bond. Aston Martin's most powerful convertible ever is the automotive embodiment of David Beckham -- an impeccable physical specimen endowed with the rare combination of pretty-boy good looks and athletic prowess so exceptional it's difficult to believe.
But such is the 2014 Vanquish Volante.
Introduced in August and available early next year, the $300,820 Vanquish Volante is one of just five models in an exclusive lineup that sells a mere 3,800 cars annually.
The Volante's soft top is the only part of the Vanquish that isn't sheathed in lightweight carbon fiber, which on the test car I drove for a day was painted an appropriate shade for a performance vehicle that appeals to men's vanity: peacock blue or, as Aston Martin terms it, Ocellus.
The Vanquish is a supercar, even if it has lost its lid. The first Aston Martin convertible to accurately mimic the silhouette of its origin sports coupe with a full-size windshield that effortlessly disappears into its aerodynamic roofline, it is powered with the same fourth-generation 6.0-liter V-12 as the hardtop.
Accessing that power is accomplished through an idiosyncratic ritual. The driver places the key fob in a slot on the center console, which ingests it as a pinball machine does a quarter and brings the beast to life.
The Vanquish Volante is a terrifically well-heeled machine that makes it difficult for even the worst drivers to look like idiots. Herky-jerky as their inputs might be, the car automatically smooths them. Its engine is front-mounted but driven with the rear wheels.
Vanquish is exactly what the Volante did in a test drive in the canyons. I'm fairly sure I blasted the hearing aids out of the ears of the elderly driver I passed on the straight with only the slightest press of the accelerator. In retrospect, I probably should've taken the car out of sport mode, which amplifies both the engine and exhaust notes, but its guttural sound was too satisfying.
While its subtly sculpted exterior and engine sounds scream "sport," the interior is pure luxury. The blue of my test car was carried into an exquisitely crafted, leather-clad cockpit.
Intuitively arranged, the gear shift and climate controls are positioned along a steeply declining wall, as if the buttons could just drop off and collect in the leather-trimmed cubby down below.
While the front seats offer a good amount of head and leg room, the rear seats are just that: seats. There is absolutely no room for legs. Still, the Vanquish boasts the largest space of any Aston Martin, including its trunk, which can fit two whole sets of golf clubs.
2014 ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH VOLANTE
Base price: $300,820
Engine: Naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V-12; quad overhead cam
Power: 565 horsepower at 6,750 rpm
Torque: 457 pound-feet at 5,500 rpm
0 to 60 mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 183 mph
Overall length: 186 inches
Wheelbase: 107.9 inches
Weight: 4,065 pounds
Fuel economy: 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway
Bottom line: More like Beckham than Bond