by Adam Lynton
For 2018, the convertible Super Grand Tourer from Aston Martin, the Vanquish Volante, gets an S Suffix to its denomination. For the carbon fiber bodied 2+2 GT with a soft-top, this signifies the beginning of the end – a last run-out model after more than 5 years in production. It paves the way to a new turbocharged future with lightweight chassis design and Mercedes-Benz engines and technology, pioneered by the DB11, but it also serves as a reminder of heritage. When the sun sets on this chapter of Aston Martin, the Vanquish Volante S will be fondly remembered as arguably the most stylish super-GT of an era.
6.0-liter V12 Gas
Immaculate hand-stitched leather adorns all aspects of the Vanquish S Volante's interior. It's soft and luxuriant, even if the padding beneath it on the seats isn't quite as soft. Ahead of the driver, the optional One-77 derived square steering wheel is a unique – if illogical design element. But it isn't the only strange feature – the traditional Aston handbrake is located between the driver's seat and door – awkward to use, but adding signature character.
The soft-top roof retracts at the press of a button, opening the snug cabin to a world of luxury GT travel and engine noise. Head room is increased exponentially, but the rear seats of the 2+2 convertible are still unusable for all but leg amputees. The option to delete the rear seat is available at no cost – worthwhile for the additional storage space as the trunk is compromised even before the soft-top is retracted.
If you're looking for the sweetest handling, softest riding Aston, the DB11 V8 is what you want. The Vanquish S Volante isn't the best handling Aston you can buy, though heavily revised suspension, damping, and stiffer anti-roll bars have vastly improved the Vanquish S in this last iteration. It's still a big GT, but the tweaks to the suspension have the effect of shrinking the Volante around the driver. Body control is better than ever before, though the suspension has the faint whisper of a hard-edged nature about it. The heavier steering in this S model feels deliciously weighted, with direct responses and syrupy feedback. New carbon fiber aerodynamic bits have improved downforce, particularly over the front end, which adds a layer of stability and a keen edge to the front end at speed. It may be the last Vanquish Volante, but it's the sharpest one yet.
The DB11 might be the first to utilize Mercedes-derived engines, but the Vanquish S Volante makes do with a classic 6.0-liter Aston Martin V12 – free breathing and naturally aspirated. Thanks to revised air intakes and a new quad-pipe exhaust, the US-specification models boast peak power outputs of 580 horsepower – 15 less than European models – with torque at a heady 465 lb-ft. But the delivery arrives low and builds with surging brawniness. It gets sent to the rear tires via an 8-speed automatic gearbox, with revised shift programming, from ZF. The top speed breaches the 200mph mark, with the 0-62 sprint taking 3.5 seconds.
Carbon fiber body and trim bits, 20-inch alloys wheels, and Strathmore Enhance-grain leather are standard on the Vanquish S, along with power heated front seats, cruise control – not adaptive – a rear parking camera, and a 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system. Technologically, that's where it ends, as the options are primarily limited to visual upgrades, though ventilated seats are available. A new AMI III infotainment system is also included, that features standard Apple CarPlay functionality and satellite navigation. The Volante hasn't been crash tested and doesn't feature advanced safety, but the basics are covered with ABS, EBD, and stability control.
It may not be as comfortable, efficient, technologically advanced, or powerful as the DB11, but the Vanquish S Volante has an allure the DB11 can't match. Gorgeous styling and a vivacious soundtrack are mere hints of the character of this very special ode to the old as we welcome in a new era of Aston.