2009 Aston Martin DB9 Volante Review

Membership has its privileges

2009 Aston Martin DB9 Volante Review

It seems that it’s impossible to write any article about an Aston Martin, without a least one (or six) reference to James Bond. And while the early Bond movies kept to the books with Bond driving a Bentley, it was the magical Aston Martin in the Goldfinger novel and movie that made the British marque a household name on this side of the pond.


1. Power has been increased for 2009 with 470hp and 443 ft-lbs of torque.

2. The DB9 Volante is priced from $197,850. The coupe goes for $182,450.

3. Additional ’09 updates include a new 5-slot grille, a revised suspension, stiffer chassis and a faster shifting transmission.

The Goldfinger Aston Martin had an open roof, but rather than a “drop top,” that car had more of a “pop top,” as one of the unfortunate bad guys found out the hard way.

The convertible model I found myself in on a sunny Summer day was the mid-range DB9 Volante, which I had the opportunity to put through its paces on the country roads surrounding Road America in the hinterlands of Wisconsin.

Let’s face it, just owning a DB9 won’t necessarily give you the skills to chase down and assassinate bad guys, or save the world from evil, but unless you look like a forest troll, driving this car should make finding a beautiful woman with an exotic foreign accent to fill the passenger seat a simpler task. In my case, Aston Martin was kind enough to provide not just the car, but also just such a companion – a young lady with a British accent who works for the factory. Needless to say, I was not looking for the ejector seat button.


For 2009, most of the changes to the Volante are under the hood or hidden. The sensuous lines of the car remain the same, and judging by the admiring looks from a group of auto journalists and the local population, no alterations were necessary.

The DB9 is stunningly beautiful and well proportioned. It has a long hood, sits low to the ground, and there is an anticipation of excitement just looking at it. There is a new grill with five slats instead of seven, making it look less fussy, and the side mirrors were lifted off the DBS model. The rich looking cloth top, as all proper convertibles should have, adds to the elegant look of the car, and leaves more trunk space for golf clubs or luggage than a retractable hard roof would. The downside is that the rear window is just a slit of glass, but this car was meant for top down driving, so some accommodations must be allowed for.

The DB9 has no key, but rather a jewel like glass fob with an Aston Martin holograph emblem embedded in it, which fits into a slot in the dash. Push it in, and the Volante is ready to fire up. And what an aural delight when the engine turns over and settles into a low growling burble!


The 5.9-liter 48-valve V12 has been given a power boost this year, up to 470 horsepower and 433 ft-lbs of torque. Stomp on the accelerator and the motor roars to life with a loud and authoritative exhaust growl, and the Volante takes off like a scalded cat.

Despite it’s nearly two ton heft, the DB9 Volante will hit 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds as your shoulders are pushed back into the plush leather seats. It seems strange to talk about the exhaust note on anything other than a motorcycle, because these days even high performance cars are designed for quiet (boring) operation. But this beast lets you know that there are forces under the hood at work and ready to go at even the slightest input from your right foot. And yet when you ease off the throttle and settle at the desired speed, the engine quiets down for relaxed cruising befitting a luxury car.

There is a new hydraulic control unit in the transmission that enables quicker shifts, especially at low speeds. The paddle shifters, which are properly located on the steering column rather than the steering wheel, work well, especially in the Sport mode.

I must admit that I still prefer my tiptronic shifting to be accomplished by using the console mounted gearshift lever, but alas, the Aston Martin has no gear shift lever, just paddles. The P, R, N, and D controls are just buttons on the center stack, a feature that I’m not wholly on-board with. In any event, the transmission was up to the task of harnessing the engine’s power and putting it to the pavement without complaint.

Steering felt light and precise, moving through a set of twisting turns on the two lane rural roads. The Volante achieves a good balance of taut handling with flat cornering and supple GT ride quality, so that even broken pavement and potholes don’t upset the driver or loosen his fillings.


The chassis boasts new upper suspension arms, revised suspension bushings and Bilstein shocks, as well as some reinforcements to add to the torsional rigidity. Unfortunately, I was dismayed to feel excessive cowl shake while traveling over railroad crossings, which I had not felt with some other convertibles, like the Bentley GTC, Mercedes SL, or even the Ford Mustang, over the same tracks earlier in the day. The Aston Martin rep acknowledged “a bit of a shudder,” and attributed it to perhaps an unbalanced tire problem, but I doubt that.

Unlike the sensitive throttle, the brake pedal is mushy and uncommunicative. There is a lot of pedal travel before getting any initial bite, although when pushed the brakes are competent.

Overall, however, I’d have to say that the on-road driving experience of the DB9 Volante is everything you’d expected in a $200,000-plus car – power, handling and refinement, coupled with the visceral feeling you have while driving a legendary marque.


Adding to the psychological pleasure you get from the car is a sumptuous cabin with bespoke amenities that delight and coddle you with visual and tactile pleasures. There is a certain patrician air of aristocracy that oozes from all corners of the intimate interior, from the richly polished wood on the center stack and door panels, to the hand stitched, sumptuous leather seats and dash and on to the thickly padded Alcantara headliner.

It’s almost impossible not to want to touch every surface, from the polished alloy make-up mirror surrounds to the magnesium paddle shifters, and even the perforated metal speaker grills. Like the aroma of the leather, this Aston Martin cabin has a tangible fragrance of grandeur that the owner will enjoy each time he drives the car.


The Aston Martin DB9 Volante lists for $197,850. The test car had $7,100 in options, and most of them seemed to be nickel and dime stuff that should have been built into the price. It just seemed silly to list a charge of $145 for a First Aid Kit, or $220 for Contrasting Color on the floor mats, and another $220 for Contrasting Color stitching on the seats, and $220 for the Smokers Kit (ashtray insert and cigarette lighter). Add those all up and it’s less than James Bond would wager on a single hand at the baccarat table. (Only the second Bond reference of the article). Add in some extra charges for paint finishes and 19-inch wheels, along with destination and gas guzzler tax (12 miles per gallon of premium petrol in the city and 19 on the highway – if anybody is interested) and the bottom line is $208,970.

Whenever I drive a car in this price range, I am painfully aware that this is no treat for the masses, but rather, for a small and exclusive club. I feel like the golf caddie who gets to play the main course on Mondays when the members are gone. And I’m reminded that membership has its privileges. Driving an Aston martin DB9 Volante is one of those rare privileges and, unfortunately, I’ll never be a member.


2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG – An SL for enthusiasts

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked