The ‘20 DBS Superleggera Volante delivers hair-raising, open-top V12 excitement, writes Road Test Editor Howard Walker.
Ponder this bijou factoid for a second: The top speed of Aston Martin’s new, breathtakingly gorgeous, 715 horsepower DBS Superleggera Volante convertible is 211 mph. That in itself is mightily impressive. If my math is correct, at that velocity the thundering Aston is covering the entire length of a football field in a hair over one second. No, what’s really impressive is Aston Martin’s claim that the new, flagship DBS can attain this v-max with its curvy canvas top lowered. That’s correct: 211 mph, top down!
As much as I wanted to verify Aston’s claim during my adrenaline-charged week with this $335,000 British bundle of turbocharged joy, alas fear of an interaction with Florida’s finest highway patrollers kept my right foot in check. But even at 120 mph with the top down – obviously on a private closed road with professional supervision, officer – piloting this beast is a hair-raising, high-decibel, tire-roaring, follicle-loosening experience. I couldn’t imagine what it’d be like with another 91 mph on the speedo.
As an aside, if anyone finds a dark blue baseball cap anywhere along I-75 – sadly I can’t remember the exact location where it blew off – please kindly return it. Of course, no one in their right mind would drive the Aston at 211mph topless. The point is, if you wanted to, you could. Here, after all, is the fastest soft-top in Aston Martin’s 107-year history, and arguably the world’s fastest 2+2 roadster: ASTON MARTIN DBS: TRIPPING THE SUPER-LIGHT FANTASTIC.
Part of what makes it the fastest is also what makes this car so very special; its mighty, hand-built 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 nuclear reactor under that mile-long hood. It is one amazing piece of engineering. Capable of delivering its massive 664 pound-feet of torque from just 1,800 rpm, it can catapult the Aston from standstill to 60 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds. Yet with Supercars rapidly turning to electric power to deliver astonishing performance, I feel the days of big, 12-cylinder engines are numbered. Think of this DBS as one spectacular last hurrah!
And spectacular it is. See it in all its carbon fiber glory, with those curves, that trademark grille opening, and huge, bulging rear fenders and it’s a shape that could make grown men weep. This is nothing less than automotive art. While the car shares its super-strong aluminum chassis with the lesser DB11, every one of its carbon fiber body panels is new to the DBS. And the DBS is unique in that it is only offered with the V12, whereas in the DB11 convertible you have to make do with a twin-turbo V8.
Hold down a center console switch and that fabric roof powers back in just 15 seconds, and at speeds up to 30 mph. Inside, you sit low in body-gripping sports seats feeling nicely protected by that raked-back windshield and high door-tops. Behind you there are rear seats, though minuscule legroom means no human adult form could sit back there. Small kids or pets, maybe. Parading beauty queens perched on the rear deck, definitely. Just watch the high heels on the lovely perforated leather!
A push of the ‘start’ button ignites the big V12, delivering a deep, hairy-chested whoomph from the tailpipes. The soundtrack of this engine is just wonderful. Everything from a distant hum to full-blown snap, crackle and pop when Sport or Sport+ is selected. This is an engine with more voices than a barbershop quartet. Yet what I love most about this engine is its duality. It’s supremely happy just burbling around town in a high gear. But pull back on the right paddle shifter, the eight-speed ZF automatic kicks down with the immediacy of a light switch, and the car catapults towards the horizon.
Despite the Superleggera badging – it means Superlight in Italian – and carbon fiber trim, this open-top DBS Volante tips the scales at a hefty 4,400 pounds. Not that this seems to dull the performance; its thrust is simply explosive, demonic and unrelenting.
Find yourself a sliver of sinewy blacktop – a challenge, I know here in the Sunshine State – and the big Aston carves curves like a rollercoaster on Space Mountain. Its forte is fast, long sweepers where it shows real poise and elegance. Yet even through tighter turns, the car’s huge front-end grip and inherent body stiffness delivers impressive agility.
For information on the ASTON MARTIN DBS: TRIPPING THE SUPER-LIGHT FANTASTIC and the latest sports cars from Aston Martin, please visit https://www.astonmartin.com/en-us/models/dbs-superleggera