The changes wrought to the Aston Martin Vanquish S coupe at the start of the year were also made to the soft-top, the Volante, at the same time. But then it was cold, and now it is hot, so here we are, being given the opportunity to test the roofless Vanquish S for the first time. Those changes, then. Last year, Aston felt that although its super-GT car was plenty GT enough, it wasn’t super enough, especially given the arrival of the DB11, and the need for this car to stay on sale for two more years. So it turned up the Vanquish’s wick and called it the Vanquish S. Power from the 5.9-litre (badged 6.0), naturally aspirated V12 went up from 565bhp to 592bhp (600PS), and although peak torque stayed the same, at 465lb ft, there was more of it, more of the time. More noise, too, thanks to a freer-flowing exhaust that was part of the reason for the extra power, although the induction system was also revised. We’ve been running a Vanquish S coupe for a few thousand miles and the sound is pretty sensational, and rarely tiring. Externally, the coupe received aerodynamic tweaks that made their way onto the Volante, too, although presumably they’ll have less effect here because the shape is less slippery overall. Where coupe and Volante differ most, though, is in the suspension. Both received tweaks and coupe and convertible retain the same geometry, springs and anti-roll bars, but because of the Volante’s weight penalty, its adaptive dampers get their own rates to cope with the extra weight, and its location.
From that perspective, the Volante is a pretty old-school convertible. That’s not really the Volante’s way. This is a front-engined, aluminium-structured car with +2 rear seats, which means you’re chopping a large area of structural stiffness-enhancing material when you lop off the back of it. Then, in replacing it with a heavy electric opening/closing mechanism and thoroughly well-insulated fabric hood, you add 100kg or so, just where you don’t want it from a dynamic perspective – high. Inevitably, then, the Volante is less of a sports car than its coupe sibling. But, I suppose, that’s not going to be the choice – coupe or Volante – is it? It’ll be Volante or Ferrari California T, or Rolls-Royce Dawn, or Bentley Continental GT Convertible. And against rivals from other makers, the Vanquish S is arguably even more competitive than its hard-topped sibling, because there’s no soft-top version of the Ferrari 812 Superfast to give it a hard time.
Besides which, the Vanquish S’s character makes it through the roof cut largely unscathed. The ride remains good and, although you’re aware there’s more girth being carried around, body control is tight, too. There is flop, mind. Of course, there is. Look in the rear-view mirror, which gets a little shimmy on over poor surfaces, and you’ll see the rear seat tops getting their own little shimmy going, too. The steering has more kickback and wobble than a stiffer car’s. But, heck, if you wanted the fullsuper-GT experience, you wouldn’t be looking at a convertible.
So sit back, enjoy the fact that the chassis balance inherent in every Aston Martin is very much present, that the steering is still linear, the throttle response crisp, the eight-speed auto firmly locked with precious little ‘slush’, and the sound far easier to hear. The Vanquish is arguably the best-looking convertible you can buy. It’s more probably still the best-sounding. I’m not saying it is the best, but it’s in the top one. Twelve cylinders in natural balance, with not a turbocharger in sight to dim the noise, and with a free-flowing exhaust that opens the moment the noise-control homologation unit isn’t looking? How couldn’t it be? So there you go. A car that is, objectively, worse than its coupe sibling: cars with roofs are stiffer. But conversely, it’s the more competitive car against its natural rivals. Buy with impunity.