Sensory overload

The speed, the sound, the colour. Take Aston Martin’s ultimate GT, the DBS Superleggera, subtract the roof, and hit the accelerator.

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Words Cameron Officer Photos Josh Hilliam

When you consider the lineage of the sports car, the convertible outdates the hard top. It’s curious to be reminded of this fact when considering that, for most modern manufacturers, the range roll-out now usually always goes hardtop first, soft top second.

Sure, the gap between the two models being shown off to the public is decreasing, as carmakers realise the two variations usually appeal to very distinct parts of their audience and both subsets need satiating.

Helping to shorten the timespan between the coupe and roadster versions of your favourite premium sports car appearing on the market in the modern era, is also the underlying fact that, now more than ever, manufacturers aren’t in the business of softening the edges for the drop top. Roof mechanism and associated structural changes aside, the convertible is no longer a slight concession – if anything, it adds a whole new visceral element to the experience.

And here’s an example now.

Starting with the sublime Aston Martin DBS Superleggera – the Brit brand’s flagship ‘Super’ GT – as a base probably gives this dazzling machine the ultimate leg up.

The DBS Superleggera Volante features a clutch of iconic nameplates on one car. With DBS, Aston Martin revived an iconic nameplate that first appeared in 1967, while Touring’s famous mark – Superleggera (or “Super lightweight”) – was once again introduced to the bonnet of an Aston Martin with the coupe version in 2018.

A collaboration that originally paved the way to the DB4, 5 and 6 Mark 1, the DBS Superleggera pays homage to the craftsmanship of the famous Italian coachbuilder in a new century.

If anything, the Volante extends the aerodynamic extremism of the hard top even further. Aston Martin knows a thing or two about maximising surface airflow, showcased in full effect by the very shape of the car. At the front, the car’s splitter and air dam help accelerate airflow underneath the front of the car to keep it suctioned to the road and assist with cooling by feeding air to the front brakes. Those side strakes behind the front wheel arches aren’t just decorative features either: they draw more air from the front wheel arch to reduce lift and aid with high-speed stability.

Naturally, there are no mechanical changes under this beast’s broad bonnet. Aston Martin’s all-alloy 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 remains in-situ, with the power (533kW) and torque (900Nm) to send the open top GT from standstill to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds. This is undoubtably the fastest Aston Martin convertible in the company’s history.

It’s also the best sounding. But you probably already figured as much.

Aston Martin considers the deep baritone soundtrack delivered by the car’s powertrain as a “critical hallmark” of the Volante experience. No sound, no soul in other words. But the Volante – with the roof down of course – delivers all the soulfulness you could wish for.

The DBS Superleggera Volante has been tuned to provide harmonics that are synonymous with an Aston Martin GT, helped along immeasurably by the car’s quad exhaust system. At lower speeds, you can hear the mechanicals doing their thing up ahead beyond the firewall. There is a satisfying burble that you never tire of. Under acceleration, the soundtrack – beyond the car’s looks, its sumptuous interior, or premium badge – becomes the absolute reason why you hanker to drive this car.

It isn’t all fire and brimstone if you don’t want it to be, however. Like its hard top sibling, the DBS Superleggera Volante features a series of dynamic driving modes which bring their own level of noise to the party (along with modifying the dynamic parameters of the car’s acceleration, steering feel, and firmness).

In GT mode, the engine note simmers, but select Sport or Sport Plus and the acoustics become progressively more intense. Conversely, if you wish to make a subtle getaway for that day trip in the country without disrupting the neighbours, the Volante also has a ‘quiet start’ mode which masks the usual aural drama with a quieter, low-key alternative on start-up.

Noise aside, that fold-away roof does remain a further defining feature of the Volante.

The electronically operated roof is an advanced fabric system which continues the silhouette of the roof line and incorporates no less than eight layers of insulation and acoustically enhancing materials.

This particular Volante is even more special, customised as it is with striking Aston Martin ‘Commissioned by Q’ exclusive Golden Saffron paint. Yes, that’s right: Aston Martin has its very own ‘Q Branch’. A bit like the employer of the car’s most famous enthusiast driver, James Bond, the Q Division takes care of special-order modifications for customers, allowing for truly bespoke Aston Martin models… just without the headlight-mounted machine guns.

Further to the dazzling exterior paint, this Volante also features an interior that is a mix of Aston Martin Special Metallic Black Leather with California Poppy welt and quilting stitching, twill satin carbon fibre inlays, and special sill plaques. It’s certainly worth the attention to detail in the cabin when you can stow the soft top and have it on show.

The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante certainly doesn’t play second fiddle to the legendary coupe. It sets its own mood, cuts its own dash, and makes a sound that you’ll instantly fall for. Lower the roof and listen to the roar.

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