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New car review

Aston Martin DB11 Volante review

Does the convertible version of the DB11 offer the same appeal that has seen its coupe sister lead the Aston Martin revival?

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Design
8.0
Comfort
8.0
Driving experience
9.0
Value for money
9.0
Safety
8.0

Summary

The Aston Martin DB11 V8 Volante combines the pleasures of a top-down convertible with the practicality of a long-distance cruiser, making it a strong contender in the luxury market. It offers an attractive combination of visual appeal, quality and performance to produce an evocative but relaxing driving experience.

Summary

The Aston Martin DB11 V8 Volante combines the pleasures of a top-down convertible with the practicality of a long-distance cruiser, making it a strong contender in the luxury market. It offers an attractive combination of visual appeal, quality and performance to produce an evocative but relaxing driving experience.
 

Inside the Aston Martin DB11 Volante

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First consideration on stepping into the car is space, and particularly boot space, folding roofs notorious for swallowing it up. Yes, in reclined from the roof does rather restrict what else one can carry, but less so than would a hard-top. With the roof up you get 206 litres in the boot, which is 20% more than the old DB9 Volante used to offer.

The rear seats in the DB11 really are for the smallest members of the family, and in the Volante there is slightly less legroom than even in the coupé. But the seats do come with ISOFIX mounts as standard (optional on the front passenger seat) and you can just about get a child seat or two in.

In the driver’s seat, it’s all rather impressive, especially the leather with its contrast stitching and the veneers, which on our test car extend even to the seat backs (our car did come with some £31,000 of options…). The infotainment screen does look a little stuck on and some of the fitments, particularly the air vents, don’t exude the luxury one gets in a Bentley, but generally it’s a nice place to drive a car from.

The infotainment system includes satellite navigation as standard through an eight-inch screen and Apple iPhone integration is included, though apparently not Android units. You don’t get a DAB digital radio either.

Driving the Aston Martin DB11 Volante

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The DB11 models use the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine as the Vantage we tested recently, which is sourced from the AMG performance division of Mercedes-Benz, whose parent company Daimler is a 5% shareholder in Aston Martin.

The UK brand insists that the engines are individually tuned for its cars and the characteristics of the unit in the DB11 are distinctly different to that in the Vantage. It’s not much slower to 62mph – the coupé manages the sprint in four seconds, three tenths behind the Vantage with the Volante a mere tenth further back.

It feels very different however, – less aggressive, more attuned to long-distance travel in luxury. Potent luxury, but still luxury. The eight-speed automatic transmission contributes its part, seamlessly shifting between modes, though one can use the impressive steering wheel paddles if desired, with which the response is instant.

The whole car will perform when asked – the DB11 includes the cockpit-selected driving modes of the Vantage, separate buttons on either side of the steering wheel for setting the powertrain and the chassis.

 
 

But while the Vantage selections range up to a raucous track mode, in the DB11 you choose between GT, Sport and Sport+. Rest assured the latter will produce plenty enough performance for most owners – we found leaving the mode set in Sport for general driving was a good compromise.

Of course with the roof down one can more clearly hear the engine note, and it’s suitably evocative, especially as a result of the instant throttle response in Sport+ mode. It’s not quite as in-your-face as in the Vantage, instead a richer, more upmarket tone, but it still stirs the senses.

Careful aero smoothing ensures a lack of aero buffeting with the roof down, raising the side windows improving things further and enabling easy conversation between front-seat passengers even at speed. A wind deflector is available as an option, though using it renders the rear seats redundant.

Despite all the body stiffening, the Volante is not quite as rigid as the coupé (though a lot more so than the previous DB9 drop-top). Yet it still performs in corners – the well-tuned electric power steering and a supremely sorted chassis combine to make hauling what is a big car through the twistiest of corner combinations both easy and fun.

Overall this is a car that is relaxing to drive, but perversely also fun to drive – a true GT that this tester could easily imagine using on a daily basis.

Summary

The Aston Martin Vantage impressed us with its controllable potency – the DB11 Volante impresses us as a luxury all-rounder.

Yes, this is a car that will perform when one wishes but it will be an equally agreeable companion clocking up hundreds of motorway miles. And for a summer drive with the roof down, there are very few cars we would choose instead of the Aston…

The Aston Martin DB11 Volante is built in Britain.

Good points
Good looks with few convertible compromises
Impressive fabric folding roof
Fully meets GT needs of quality motoring over many miles 

Bad points
Rear seats very cramped
Some oddities on options list
No DAB radio or Android phone integration.

Key specifications

Make & model Aston Martin DB11 Bentley Continental GT Ferrari Portofino
Specification V8 Volante Convertible
Price (on-road) From £159,900 From £175,100 From £166,241
Engine 4.0-litre petrol 6.0-litre petrol 3.9-litre petrol
Power 510 hp 590 hp 600 hp
Torque 675 Nm 720 Nm 760 Nm
0-62mph 4.1 sec 4.7 sec 3.5 sec
Top speed 187 mph 195 mph 199 mph
Fuel economy (combined) 28.2 mpg 19.9 mg 26.4 mpg
CO2 emissions 230 g/km 330 g/km 245 g/km
Insurance group Not stated 50E Not stated
Euro NCAP rating Not tested Not tested Not tested

 

Aston Martin DB11 Volante review - summary

Design
8.0
Comfort
8.0
Driving experience
9.0
Value for money
9.0
Safety
8.0

Summary

The Aston Martin DB11 V8 Volante combines the pleasures of a top-down convertible with the practicality of a long-distance cruiser, making it a strong contender in the luxury market. It offers an attractive combination of visual appeal, quality and performance to produce an evocative but relaxing driving experience.
Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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