Similar to the sentiment of the famed song “There’ll always be an England,” it seems there will always be an Aston Martin DB? The model series was born in 1948 and, with Agent 007’s iconic DB5, catapulted the esoteric British marque to stardom. Twelve generations later, and on the heels of the long-awaited DB12 coupe, Aston Martin debuts the new DB12 Volante, which is Aston-speak for convertible.
The DB12 represents the next iteration of Aston Martin sports car, what the company describes as a Super Tourer. It replaces the DB11, built from 2016 through this year, and is a new design with—to our mind—a more elegant, “Aston-like” look that comprises improvements both visceral and visual. The DB12 Volante will make its physical world debut at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering on Friday, August 18, as part of this year’s Monterey Car Week in Northern California.
In the tradition of every predecessor since the 1965 DB5 Volante, the DB12 version is a refined top-down GT designed with copious portions of luxury and performance in mind. What distinguishes this convertible from other’s in the automaker’s history is that Aston Martin has assiduously engineered it to, first and foremost, be the equal of the coupe—a true driver’s car—and not the “softer” of the pair.
The bonded extruded-aluminum body increases rigidity and torsional stiffness, with attention paid to key structural elements such as the underbody, suspension mounting points, and engine cross brace. New adaptive dampers provide a much greater range of dynamic capability and handling character, in conjunction with revised electric power-assisted steering. An optional carbon-ceramic brake system reduces unsprung weight by 60 pounds, while 21-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 5 S tires are standard. And then there’s the composite body panels, which keep the car’s dry weight just below 4,000 pounds.
Since the beginning, every Volante has been distinguished by its soft top, but the electrically operated “K-fold” roof of the DB12 is entirely new. Available in black, or in optional red, blue, or black/silver, it employs a two-stage folding operation developed to achieve a class-leading 10-inch stack height (in other words, very thin) that not only maintains the car’s sleek profile but increases luggage capacity in the trunk. Eight layers of insulation acoustically dampen road noise, and when lowered, the K-fold roof sits low beneath a hard tonneau cover to create an elegant tail, which is punctuated by a deployable spoiler using the Aston Martin Aeroblade system. The roof operation takes 14 seconds to open and 16 seconds to close, and can be used at speeds of up to 31 mph.
The heart of the DB12 Volante is its front-mid-mounted 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, driving the rear wheels through a rear-mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. The driver can select from five predefined dynamic modes: Wet, GT, Sport, Sports Plus, and Individual. The compact V-8 provides 671 hp at 6,000 rpm and 590 ft lbs of torque through a wide power band of 2,750 rpm to 6,000 rpm. Importantly, this engine differs from the one used in the DB11, featuring larger turbos, improved cooling, and revised tuning to deliver a 34 percent increase in output, allowing the roadster to cover zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds before topping out at 202 mph.
The cabin offers 2+2 seating, though practically speaking, every current Aston Martin is a two-seat GT. What sets the Volante interior apart from its coupe counterpart is a choice of wood veneer or carbon fiber on the seatbacks that can be matched to the door-trim inlay for added visual punch when the soft top is lowered.
One great advance is the infotainment system, featuring a central 10.25-inch touchscreen with full capacitive single- and multi-finger gesture control. A 390-watt, 11-speaker Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi immerses occupants in surround sound, though audiophiles may go for the optional 1,170-watt Bowers & Wilkins system that uses a 15-speaker array.
Those looking for added flair have access to Q by Aston Martin, the brand’s personalisation department, which allows clients to configure their DB12 Volante with custom details for which the marque is known. Stateside deliveries are scheduled to begin during Q4 of this year, with pricing to be announced.
Previously published on Robb Report.