Review: 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante
PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.—A funny thing happened in Southern California.
We were sent to test the 2014 Vanquish Volante — billed by Aston Martin as the ultimate convertible super GT — and things most definitely did not go as planned.
What we were meant to learn was that the Vanquish Volante could deliver one of the most picture-perfect days to be had on the undulating mountain roads that surround Los Angeles.
It begins with a car that is itself the epitome of automotive beauty: its body is constructed entirely of carbon fibre, which means fewer body panels are required and every curve can be plotted for peak performance and elegance. The windshield is also full-height, a first for Aston Martin, which allows the glass to meet the roof in a strikingly clean transition.
And, of course, the beauty under the hood is a given: with its six litre V12 and the aforementioned lightweight carbon fibre body, the advertised top speed is just a tick shy of 300 km/h. It’s near-perfect 51:49 weight distribution and three-stage active damping system allows for optimal driveability.
But we didn’t really get a chance to experience any of that.
Instead of the typical blue skies and California sun that were no doubt presumed, we tested the car in rain, plummeting temperatures and, as we approached 6,000 ft in the San Jacinto mountains, snow.
It certainly wasn’t what one would expect from an afternoon in and around Palm Springs. But it had a fascinating side effect: we had an opportunity to test a European performance vehicle in unusually north-like conditions.
The resulting verdict? If you’re going to spend several hundred thousand Canadian dollars on a high-end GT car, this may very well be one of the best options going.
When we encountered snow, ice and flowing water, this car was far steadier than one would expect from a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive vehicle. No one is about to put chains on the tires and drive it through Muskoka in February, obviously, but it’s nice to know that if you venture out on that last semi-warm November day and get surprised by a sudden flurry that you won’t find yourself struggling to return home.
You’ll even have three-stage heated seats to keep you warm on the way.
That carbon fibre body combined with bonded aluminum throughout also means that this car won’t corrode when faced with sand and salt on Canadian roads. And the roof, a triple-skin design lined with Thinsulate — which didn’t leak once! — will safely deploy in 14 seconds at speeds just a tick under 50 km/h to keep you and the car adapting to changing conditions at the touch of a button.
Possibly the most notable thing about this car, though, is that it’s very approachable despite everything under and over the hood. This is a car that your non-car-loving girlfriend will be frightened by the sound but will very quickly enjoy driving if you decide to give her a turn. (Whether you actually want to offer one is another discussion.)
The car’s one potential flaw in this market is that it isn’t especially well equipped for a true grand tour of the North American variety. The interior is bereft of any sort of appreciable storage space. There are tiny door pockets but only a single cup holder and no glove box to speak of.
And the trunk, while roughly 50 per cent larger than Aston Martin’s DBS Volante, will fit roughly a golf bag and not much else – great for a grand tour to the links but not so much for a trip from Halifax to Vancouver.
Still, if you’re looking for the ultimate statement vehicle, the one with beauty that will stop people in their tracks and hardware under the hood to match, this car will deliver.
And the added bonus: you get to feel like a famous fictitious British spy while you cruise around town on your Sunday drive. What’s not to love about that?
Transportation for freelance writer Stephanie Wallcraft was provided by the manufacturer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aston Martin 2014 Vanquish Volante
Price: $315,200 base; $331,225 as tested
Engine: 6.0L V12
Fuel consumption L/100 km: 18.0 city, 12.4 hwy., super premium fuel
Power/torque: 565 hp/457 lb-ft
Competition: Bentley Continental GTC
What’s best: Everywhere this goes, an ad hoc car show breaks out.
What’s worst: A true grand tour will require highly efficient packing.
What’s interesting: Price tag aside, this may be one of the more practical performance car purchases for the Canadian climate.