Aston Martin Vanquish Volante convertible (2012-2018)
“The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is a fast and comfortable convertible with a glorious V12 engine”
- Powerful V12 engine
- Comfortable ride
- Stunning image
- Huge running costs
- Smaller boot than rivals
- Dated infotainment system
The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is an exclusive convertible with a powerful engine and eye-watering running costs. Designed as a ‘toy’ for the wealthy, it’s sure to turn heads and provide driving enthusiasts with plenty of thrills.
This is an exotic class of car, but there are plenty of choices to consider, including the Ferrari California T, Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet, AMG GT Roadster, and another Brit, the Bentley Continental GTC Convertible.
All cost in excess of £100,000 and the Aston is double that. Where the Vanquish Volante does stand out is with its old-school 6.0-litre V12 engine, because most rivals have made the switch to smaller, turbocharged petrol engines to save fuel and cut emissions.
The result is a car that sounds fantastic and performs beautifully – getting from 0-62mph in as little as 3.5 seconds – but only returns 21mpg and has CO2 emissions of 300g/km.
With the metal roof replaced by a fabric drop-top, the handling is slightly less sharp than the Vanquish Coupe, but also benefits from supple suspension that makes the Aston slightly less frenetic than California T or GT Roadster.
The Vanquish Volante is a very long car, but because its engine takes up so much room, its interior is restricted to a 2+2 layout. This means there’s plenty of room for front-seat occupants, but almost no legroom in the back. You’ll also need to plan carefully before long trips, because the boot is similar in size to a small supermini’s.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Unlike most rival manufacturers, Aston Martin has clung on to a large, naturally aspirated V12 engine for its big GT car. While this makes for an incredible driving experience, it’s not as efficient as a smaller turbocharged engine, resulting in fuel economy of 22.1mpg for the and 298g/km of CO2 emissions. The S Volante is thirstier still, although 21.6mpg and 302g/km represent a negligible increase in the grand scheme of things.
The Ferrari California T has a smaller turbocharged engine and returns 24.1mpg, with emissions of 273g/km, while the Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet returns 28mpg.
Such high emissions put the Vanquish firmly in the top 37% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band for business users. After the first year's CO2-based road tax (generally included in the on-the-road price), every Vanquish costs £140 a year to tax. With a list price of more than £40,000, they’re also liable for an additional surcharge of £310 a year in years two to six, bringing the annual bill to £450 during that period.
The standard warranty lasts for three years with no mileage restriction, with longer terms available for additional cost. It goes without saying that tyres, maintenance and servicing costs will all be much higher than for a regular car and repairing carbon-fibre bodywork is unlikely to be cheap.
Engines, drive & performance
The Vanquish S Volante engine has been tuned to produce 592bhp, a 33bhp increase on older versions. The improvements have come from the engine air intake, not only boosting power, but also making the throttle even more responsive. It makes all the noises you’d hope an exotic, British ‘super GT’ convertible would. A deep, throaty bellow hardens as revs increase and becomes a high-pitched crescendo if you hold onto each of the eight gears using the paddleshifters.
Because of the engine’s sheer size, there’s also plenty of performance at lower revs, if you simply want to surf its smooth wave of power and make refined progress. The 0-62mph dash is possible in 3.5 seconds and the Vanquish S Volante is one of a handful of convertibles capable of hitting 201mph – with the roof up.
Choose the non-S Vanquish Volante and the V12 engine remains, but with 568bhp, adding half a second to the 0-62mph time and reducing top speed to 197mph – 1mph faster than the California T, even if its 3.6-second 0-62mph time is closer to the S Volante’s.
Head along a twisty British road and you can feel a small amount of flex caused by the lack of a metal roof, but the suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps and remaining unflustered in its most comfortable setting. The Sport suspension mode is more focused, but not so stiff you won’t be able to use the car on the road.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is more relaxing than the fastest dual-clutch transmissions and blips the throttle when changing down through the gears.
Interior & comfort
The Volante has a triple-layered fabric roof that takes around 14 seconds to go up and down and can handily be operated at low speeds in a sudden downpour. The windscreen does a good job of keeping the breeze out of the cabin and refinement with the roof up is decent.
Seating for front occupants is comfortable, with an outstretched driving position courtesy of the low-slung bodywork. Fitting its GT (short for ‘Grand Touring’) brief, the Volante won’t beat you up either, with a supple ride despite its excellent handling and huge alloy wheels.
Compared to models like the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster, the Aston’s interior looks very simple and traditional, but the craftsmanship is excellent. Measuring 6.5 inches, the infotainment display is compatible with Apple CarPlay, but the graphics and user interface are disappointing for such an expensive car. At least it’s connected to a Bang & Olufsen stereo that’s almost as good to listen to as the V12 engine.
Practicality & boot space
The Volante is best described as a 2+2, because rather like a Porsche 911, the small rear seats are only suitable for small children or a couple of shopping bags from your favourite boutique. Most luxury drop-tops struggle for rear passenger space, but the S-Class Cabriolet and Rolls-Royce Dawn offer enough room for adults in the back.
If you head away for more than a night, you might also need to use them for extra luggage to make up for the Vanquish’s 279-litre boot. This trails behind the Ferrari, with 340 litres when the roof is up, and the S-Class Cabriolet, with 350 litres.
While it’s no MPV inside, the Vanquish Volante is reasonably practical, boasting a cubby in front of the centre console, with a cup-holder directly behind it. The door bins are long (albeit quite shallow) and there’s a large central armrest padded in leather.
Reliability & safety
Aston Martins only sell in small numbers, so didn’t feature in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Once known for having gremlins, Astons appear to be far better built nowadays, with some technology like the infotainment system bought in from mainstream manufacturers. Each car is handbuilt and the 6.0-litre V12 has a very long history.
The Volante is never likely to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but would likely perform well for adult occupant protection thanks to its incredibly strong body structure. However, it doesn’t feature the latest preventative safety features of the big manufacturers. For evidence of this, look no further than the S-Class Cabriolet, that can almost drive itself autonomously on the motorway and brake automatically in an emergency.
Price, value for money & options
It costs over £200,000, so value for money becomes a fairly loose term when considering an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. Its biggest problem is the fact the Ferrari California T costs quite a bit less, as do most version of the Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet. The latter can seat four and has in-car technology at least a generation ahead of the Vanquish, but it also doesn’t have the Aston Martin badge or supercar looks.
The upholstery can be specified in thousands of unique colour and material combinations to match the taste of the customer, even down to contrasting seat bolsters, stitching and embroidered Aston Martin motifs. Options include a ‘Chopped Carbon Fibre’ dashboard veneer for £2,000, a reversing camera, second glass key and an upgraded alarm.