2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante Review
It makes glorious noises…
The Vanquish Volante is Aston Martin’s flagship model sitting at the peak of its very alluring lineup. With spectacular design, a rousing V12 engine and lightweight bodywork it’s designed to run, fast. But is it merely a grand touring car or is it the grandest touring car?
|Engine: 6.0L V12 makes 565 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Fuel Economy: 13 MPG city, 19 highway or 15 combined.
Pricing: The Vanquish Volante starts at $297,995 or $315,595 as tested including $2,825 in destination and delivery fees.
The Vanquish Volante tussles with some pretty rarified competition, models like the Mercedes-Benz SL, Ferrari California T and Maserati GranTurismo. These open-air machines are built for sustained high-speed driving; they’re cars you could traverse a continent in without feeling like you lost a boxing match with Muhammad Ali when you arrived at your destination. In short, grand-touring automobiles are fast and sporty but not savage, a statement that succinctly describes this Aston Martin.
Of course the Vanquish Volante is wrapped in a stunning body that garners more looks than a 100 mile-wide UFO descending over Manhattan. Wherever you go, folks follow; the car transforms ordinary people into paparazzi as they whip out their smartphones and snap a few pictures. You can almost hear them saying: “Was that Eminem?” “Could Kobe Bryant be in town?” And of course if I’m driving, “Is Orville Redenbacher still alive?”
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And all of this really shouldn’t be surprising. The Vanquish Volante is simply beautiful. It’s long and low, menacing and purposeful, but all the while tasteful and elegant. Taut surface details hint at the power inside while massive wheels reinforce its performance credentials. It’s a magnificent-looking car.
But it took a lot of technology to develop all of that wonderful coachwork. In fact, here’s a trick question for you: What does this Aston Martin have in common with a Saturn? Any guesses? Well, aside from rolling on four wheels and once being part of a much bigger corporation, believe it or not the Vanquish Volante’s body is made entirely from plastic… sort of.
Less mass equals better performance and efficiency, it’s as simple as that, but there are other benefits to fibrous carbon as well. Thanks to its easy formability designers were given the freedom to create larger, more complex components, something that reduced the overall number of panels and joints, resulting in a cleaner look. In some areas of our test car, like the front splitter, side skirts and even backside of the hood the carbon weave is still visible.
Further cutting unwanted mass, the Vanquish Volante’s architecture is made from lightweight aluminum – aluminium if you prefer. Engineers also worked some carbon fiber bits into the structure. Still, in spite of all this advanced technology the car is no Mazda Miata; it weighs 4,065 lbs.
A soft top also cuts the fat, at least compared to a multi-piece unit made from metal. Its power-folding cloth roof neatly tucks away in just 14 seconds.
Leather, Leather Everywhere
It’s easy to love this machine’s aggressive body, but its cabin is pretty nice as well. Everything is covered in rich cow hide and for the most part has a premium feel.
However, there are a few oddities that detract from the experience. The digital readouts in the instrument cluster look outdated and some of the secondary controls are difficult to navigate; accessing radio presets for instance is a chore. Also, there’s no glove box – they must have been too busy with all of the other awesomeness they were working on.
Some of the leather is a bit wrinkly in places and the fit and finish isn’t quite right in some areas. Also, the stitching should be straight and even but the lines are slightly off in a couple spots. None of these faults are deal-breakers but when you’re paying multiple six-figures for a vehicle it better be perfect and the Vanquish Volante’s interior isn’t quite there.
Aston Martin bills this as a 2+2 but in truth the back seats are about as useful as a saw without a blade. No one will be comfortable there, unless perhaps they’ve been run through a trash compactor. On the bright side those rear perches are useful for storage to augment the 10 cubic-foot trunk.
One nifty feature inside this car is its ignition. Instead of a switch on the steering column or a dash-mounted button there’s a small slot on the center stack. The key fob slides right in and you just press it in and hold it briefly to fire the engine. Putting it in gear is a button-pushing affair as well.
Aston Martin bills the Vanquish Volante as the “ultimate convertible.” Marketing hubris aside, the thing that actually legitimizes statements like that is nestled neatly between the car’s front fenders.
Its engine offers 6.0-liters of firepower spread across a dozen cylinders. Referred to as the AM11, which sounds like the designation of a main battle tank or something, this howling V12 provides 565 bhp with 457 lb-ft of peak torque. But best of all it’s totally natural, non-GMO, free-range, sustainably harvested internal combustion. There’s no turbo or supercharger in this equation, just lots of displacement and plenty of revs. Accordingly it sounds absolutely glorious.
This deep-breathing 12-cylinder wonder produces an automotive symphony, a musical masterpiece that’s broadcast directly from the Vanquish Volante’s exhaust tips. It trills and burbles, pops and rumbles unlike any other engine on the market today. Was this powertrain created by number-crunching engineers or Beethoven? The glorious noises produced by this engine, especially in sport mode, are unquestionably one of the car’s most appealing attributes.
The other half of the Vanquish Volante’s powertrain is a six-speed automatic transmission. It routes the entire stable of horses to the vehicle’s rear wheels. The result of all this fine work is a zero-to-60 dash of around four seconds, which is PLENTY quick. Top speed is an arrest-worthy 183 miles an hour.
On the economy front this car stickers at a painful 13 miles per gallon around town and 19 on the highway, figures that result in a combined score of just 15 MPG. Oh well, nobody buys a V12-powered beast for efficiency.
They get them for unadulterated fun and high-power hoonage. As you might expect the Vanquish Volante is ready, willing and able to dance.
The car’s ride quality is firm but not jarring or harsh. It strikes a nice balance between bobbing like a buoy and crushing your spine. Additionally the overall structure feels extremely rigid with minimal cowl shake. Michigan’s war-torn pavement can provide plenty of bumps and pot holes but acne-scarred roads don’t seem to cause any upsets.
Likewise, overall control is outstanding. There’s practically no body lean, even through tight corners. The steering is nice and heavy with a surprisingly quick ratio, an arrangement that gives you the confidence to hustle; giganticf brakes ensure things don’t get out of hand.
This car is seriously fast, though it’s not going to cause any sonic-booms like a Bugatti Veyron or something. The engine is brilliantly linear, delivering its power in one smooth wave; the faster it spins the faster you go. It’s also smoother than silk underwear.
But better than all of that is the SOUND TRACK! With sport mode engaged you’ll find yourself dropping gears just to hear the V12 sing! And what noises it makes, howling like a street-legal race car.
Not surprisingly the Vanquish Volante is expensive, starting right around $300,000. Naturally the test car we evaluated had a few options, things like 20-inch, 20-spoke wheels ($3,975), a full-length carbon-fiber herringbone-weave fascia ($3,190) and the exterior carbon-fiber pack ($4,785). All told the car in question checked out at a gasp-inducing $315,595 including $2,825 in destination and delivery fees.
The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is a super sexy yet surprisingly livable machine. It’s a car you can commute to work in yet still enjoy on a racetrack if you really want to romp on a Saturday afternoon. With eye-catching design and a booming engine it really puts the grand in grand touring.
Despite all the driving fun and gawks from passersby this car isn’t quite perfect. A steep sticker price and minor interior issues tarnish an otherwise enthralling automobile.