2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante
It’s always kind of a crapshoot when you turn a coupe into a convertible. Sometimes you get something stunning, and sometimes you get the Nissan 350Z Roadster. But the new 2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante’s design seems hard to screw up no matter what you did to it, and luckily its roadster version doesn’t disappoint. Meet the Aston Martin DB11 Volante.
The decision to make a Volante version of the Aston Martin DB11 Volante doesn’t come as a shock. Aston has used the name as shorthand for its droptop models since 1965. But the decision to launch the DB11 Volante with the AMG-sourced V-8 engine, rather than Aston’s own twin-turbocharged V-12, creates the sort of mild surprise that would raise one of James Bond’s eyebrows. The twin-turbocharged V-8 is a fine engine and works particularly well in the DB11 coupe that we recently drove. Still, it seems likely that a significant number of the buyers drawn to an Aston Martin convertible would also be the sort who’d seek to maximize their excess with the brawnier V-12. Yet Aston said it has no plans to offer the bigger engine in the Volante any time soon. If enough paying customers voice interest, however, plans have been known to change.
As it is, the V-8 makes for a refreshingly uncomplicated single-model lineup. The Volante’s mechanical package is functionally identical to that of the DB11 V-8 coupe, with the same quoted power and torque peaks for the twin-turbo 4.0-liter engine (which runs an Aston-developed ECU): 503 horsepower and 498 lb-ft, with the latter available over a broad band from 2000 to 5000 rpm. Torque is directed to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox (the same snappy ZF-sourced unit that has pretty much taken over the luxury segment). Suspension is by control arms in front and a multilink setup at the rear, and standard electrically adaptive dampers offer GT, Sport, and Sport+ settings.
The muscular lines of the DB11’s lower body are particularly well suited to the decapitation, with the car looking better proportioned with top down than the old DB9 Volante did. The power-operated fabric roof now uses eight layers of material to quell noise, and it is available in red, black, or gray. Aston says it takes just 14 seconds to lower the roof and 16 seconds to raise it, with this process possible while the car is traveling at speeds up to 31 mph (even if heading directly into a headwind of the same speed). It also can be operated from outside the car using the remote key fob for maximum street theater.
Durability testing for the new roof system included putting prototypes through more than 100,000 raising and lowering cycles in special weather chambers that were “designed to simulate conditions in the world’s harshest environments,” Aston said. Good news for any Volante owners planning a top-down tour of Alaska in the winter. The aim was to compress the strain of a decade of real-world use into a one-month test period.
Although not the roomiest car in its segment, the Volante does offer sufficient practicality. As with the DB11 coupe, the tiny rear seats are only big enough to accommodate children or those prepared to risk deep vein thrombosis in exchange for the thrill of riding in the back of an open-topped Aston. But the space does increase carrying capacity for items that can’t be squeezed into the trunk. While Aston boasts the DB11 Volante’s luggage space is 20 percent bigger than that of the open-topped DB9, the old car’s 7-cubic-foot trunk was one of the smallest in the segment. If things get too cramped, Volante owners can just send their luggage ahead separately.
Claimed weight savings also are more modest than those we have grown used to between successive generations these days. Aston claims the convertible DB11’s body is 57 pounds lighter and 5 percent stiffer than that of the DB9 Volante. The claimed 4134-pound curb weight is 254 pounds heftier than the stated figure for the DB11 V-8 coupe, with the Volante’s 47/53 percent front/rear weight distribution also being two points behind the almost optimal 49/51 for the hardtop version.
Performance has hardly suffered. Aston claims a 4.1-second zero-to-62-mph time, just a tenth of a second behind the official number for the V-8 coupe and only two tenths behind the V-12 DB11. Based on our recent test of the 12-cylinder coupe, we’d be surprised if we didn’t record a zero-to-60-mph time under four seconds when we get a Volante to the track. The claimed top speed of 187 mph is identical to that of the V-8 coupe.
With the first customer deliveries starting next spring, the DB11 Volante will be priced starting at $219,320, a figure that represents a reasonable $17,500 upcharge over the equivalent coupe. For a car as handsome as this one, it’s a price we suspect a large percentage of DB11 buyers in the United States will be prepared to pay.