2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante
Aston Martin’s latest supercar, the Vanquish Volante, might not occupy the rarified air of even costlier jewels like Porsche’s 918 or the McLaren P1—of course, neither does it pack similar levels of tech—but it nevertheless will scoop a $300,820 chunk out of your bank account. What does that princely sum buy? rnHistory and prestige, for starters. As of 2013, Aston claims a storied 100-year history full of iconic cars and racing successes (plus a few bankruptcies for added drama). There were the competition Ulsters and DBR1/2s and, of course, the James Bond affiliation. The firm’s honors also include a Royal Warrant of Appointment to HRH the Prince of Wales—who owns a couple of Astons—for motor manufacture and repair. rnYou pay for those unmistakable Aston Martin aesthetics. The Vanquish Volante wears the brand’s signature grille, used for decades and modernized early in the past decade by Ian Callum for the DB7. Here it’s perched above a double-lip lower front air dam. The rear graphics and the droptop’s shapely flanks draw on Aston’s heritage, too, but in a dramatic, contemporary way. The body sides are defined by three character lines, the muscular wheel arches visually signal the ample underhood power, and an organically shaped spoiler traces the rear of the decklid. In profile, this Aston eschews the typical exotic-car long-hood, short-deck proportions for more balance front to rear.rnThe megabucks also go toward the pile of carbon fiber used in the Volante, including the entirety of the bodywork, which lowers weight and adds strength and design flexibility. Under that skin lies a bonded-aluminum structure buttressed by additional carbon-fiber pieces. Aston claims a 14-percent improvement in torsional rigidity for the Volante’s fourth-generation Vertical Horizontal (VH) architecture over its predecessor—that’d be the DBS Volante—the better to quell classic open-car body squeaks and let the suspension do its primary work. The Vanquish Volante rides on multilink setups at both ends and features Normal, Sport, and Track settings for the dampers. The brake calipers squeeze a set of standard carbon-ceramic discs. rnConvertible designers can opt to go with a folding hardtop, à la Mercedes-Benz SL, or soft, as Aston has done here. Whereas the former creates a dual-nature coupe/convertible, the latter saves on cost, weight, and complexity and cuts less deeply into cargo space. Stowing or opening the Aston’s three-layer cloth top takes 14 seconds and can be done on the fly at up to 30 mph. Top up or down, the Vanquish Volante offers the same 9.8 cubic feet in the trunk.