Aston Martin DB9 Volante review

John Barker
22 Oct 2010
Verdict:

Revised Aston Martin DB9 drop top gets improved handling from new adaptive damping system, updated styling. 470bhp 5.9-litre V12 unchanged

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£131,445
For 
Consummate cruiser; tidy when pushed, too
Against 
Wind noise with roof up

The look of the DB9 has changed little over the years but dynamically it’s come a long way. Every year it seems to get better and, to bring it into line with the coupe, the sleek Volante version now has the latest set-up, featuring selectable, two-setting dampers. Subtle identifiers include new alloys, clear rear light lenses and minor tweaks to the sill shape and the lower front air intakes.

As you’d expect, the Volante swishes along very nicely, V12 hushed, (optional) automatic gearbox smooth, throttle soft, ride cosseting; the perfect partner for a leisurely, roof-down lope. There’s an ever-so-slight edge to the ride that’s most evident when the occasional sharp ridge punches through your reverie but otherwise it’s a chassis that flows over choppy surfaces, coating them with a layer of comfort. The Volante’s weight is well managed, and if you hanker after a bit more tautness, a prod of the big damper button on the centre console will get you there.

The steering can occasionally feel a fraction light but it’s quick and precise and gives decent, clear feel. Prod the Sport button and the auto gearbox – a traditional torque converter type, which suits the car perfectly – goes to a higher state of alert, though for total control using the paddles is best. There’s not a lot of structural shimmy, all feels taut, and the roof works quickly, about 11 seconds from up to down. Hood up, there’s noticeable wind rustle at motorway speeds, and hood down it’s a bit blowy without the wind deflector in place over the rear seats, but this is a pretend four-seater (there’s minimal legroom behind an average-size driver) so the deflector can be in place most of the time.

It’s worth stowing the mohair whenever possible because you get to enjoy the engine unmuffled. Beyond 3000rpm the V12 finds its voice and hits its stride, the tailpipes unleashing a thundering yet sophisticated howl with elements of brass section about it. The fury of 5.9 litres of V12 never overwhelms the Volante, though; even on the regular damper setting on a twisting road it clings on with the feeling of a taut chassis on tall tyres – on turn-in there’s a hint of tailslide but this is just the car settling, and stability control nips anything more in the bud.

It feels like it’ll be with you and predictable if you take things further and drop the stability control, and so it proves. Push enthusiastically and the Volante gets moving properly, so you probably want the firmer damper setting for the cleanest, tidiest reactions. The DB9 still has a friendly edge, shifting calmly over the limit of grip, and it feels like you’ve got plenty of time to get on top of it, helped by steering that won’t over-excite the situation. Will anyone ever drive the DB9 Volante like this? Perhaps not, but if the car can be set up to do it without compromising comfort and waft-ability, why not? Fine composure in unexpected tight situations is always a good thing.

This is another fine Aston chassis, then, which by my reckoning gives the chaps at Gaydon the complete set, from entry-level V8 Vantage to range-topping DBS. The coupe is arguably the more handsome DB9, but dynamically you won’t be missing much if you can’t resist the charms of the Volante.

Specifications

Engine V12, 5935cc
Max power 470bhp @ 6000rpm
Max torque 443lb ft @ 5000rpm
0-60 4.8sec (claimed)
Top speed 190mph (claimed)

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