The new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante has more power more noise

The longwinded European name implies there's something special about the latest addition to the Aston Martin lineup.

Known as the DBS Superleggera Volante, it comes with more power, more poise and touches of V12 aggression that makes an Aston Martin different to the average sports car.

Based on the DBS Superleggera, the Volante adds a folding soft-top roof (Volante in the Aston Martin world means convertible) for some open-air thrills.

Roof down

For the DBS it uses the same folding roof as in the DB11 (a car with which the DBS shares plenty of DNA).

It can be raised or lowered at up to 50km/h and takes about 15 seconds to run through its motion. That means a beautifully trimmed eight-layer soft-top that does a great job of hushing the wind when raised.

But the Volante is a car that calls for sunshine, opening up visibility and the experience of the drive once that roof has been lowered.

There's also a wind deflector for when the roof is open, although the aerodynamics make for just enough rustling of hair without upsetting the situation, even without the deflector in place.

With the roof raised the already tight boot space – it's partially consumed by the wind deflector and an umbrella - is reduced further, limiting the capacity to a couple of small bags.

There's always the back seats, which are strictly for smaller people (preferably kids).


Back to basics

Inside there's nothing particularly high-tech, with the emphasis instead on traditional luxury.

There's a plethora of leather and stitching and the occasional intricate pattern for effect.

Plus, the options are boundless – adding to the $559,000 asking price ($42,000 more than the Coupe). Choose your colours and finishes to match your taste.

The lack of a glovebox is partially excused by the sizeable centre binnacle that can be accessed at the press of a button, something that slides its lid back elegantly.

A digital instrument cluster places the emphasis on its circular tachometer while allowing various displays to be customised either side. 

Powering it up

While Aston Martin has turned to Mercedes-Benz for some components – including some switchgear, infotainment systems and the latest V8 engine– the V12 beneath the bonnet is true to the British brand.

The 5.2-litre unit is assisted by twin turbochargers and in Superleggera guise there's a wholesome 533kW to play with.

That's a huge headline number and one that translates to slick acceleration, with a lovely surge and associated growl from the V12.

Full throttle

The dash to 100km/h is claimed to take 3.6 seconds, just 0.2 seconds slower than the hard-top Coupe. Blame that on weight; the Volante is about 100kg heavier than the Superleggera Coupe due to additional bracing to account for the lack of a fixed roof.

The biggest challenge in those off-the-line dashes is keeping the 21-inch Pirelli rubber in check.

There's so much grunt – a massive 900Nm of torque – that it's easy to trigger the traction control, something that leads to a brief halt in proceedings as the electronics catch their breath.

For that reason it's acceleration at speed that is more impressive. Floor the throttle at, say, 70 or 80km/h and the rush of energy is superb, the Superleggera launching towards licence-losing territory in a few seconds.

Backing off

Despite all that grunt and the knowledge you're never far away from a fast blast, it's during gentle cruising that the DBS Superleggera feels in its comfort zone.

Effortlessly building pace as required but otherwise relaxing into the cruise is its forte – albeit one that can continue up to 340km/h, the fastest top speed of any Aston Martin convertible.

The eight-speed automatic quickly adjusts to the change of pace, settling into smooth, well-timed shifts.

One challenge is the noise.

Pump up the volume

The Superleggera has three drivetrain modes – GT, Sport and Sport+ - each stepping up throttle response and how long it will hold on to each gear.

However, in the cruisiest GT mode the exhaust note misses out on the grumbles and burbles that add to the character.

That's disappointing, especially with the roof down – at which point all those noises make it to your ears that little bit easier.

Another option is to dial up Sport mode and take control of gearshifts using the slender metal paddles hanging off the steering column.

Ultimately there's so much torque that most gears cope with shifting the 1.9-tonne body just fine.

Look smart

The V12 is not just good in the performance department, either.

The engine is a thing of beauty and popping the bonnet is theatre in itself. A well hidden button in the door jamb releases the bonnet, which is hinged from the front of the car.

Being made of carbon fibre it's ridiculously light and has the tell-tale weave on its underside.

The bonnet also forms part of the wheel arches, so it exposes the broad front tyres and parts of the suspension, reinforcing the extensive use of aluminium within.

Between bracing across the engine bay and various details it's a mechanical piece of art. And once you lower it there are small motors to suck the bonnet closed, so there's no need to slam it shut.

Into the sunset

It's that specialness blended with beauty and performance that makes the Volante such an interesting addition to the Aston Martin lineup.

The DBS Superleggera Volante might not be 007's first choice to escape the baddies, guns blazing and gadgets at the ready.

Instead it's more likely to glide him into the sunset at the end of a mission with a female companion tucked snugly into the passenger seat – safe in the knowledge there's plenty of V12 pace on hand if required.