The 2018 Aston DB11 Volante just may be the grandest of today’s grand touring cars. A 2+2 convertible with a sensuous shape and 503 German horses under its clamshell bonnet, it’s a beautiful means of getting you wherever you want to go.
We drove the DB11 Volante on the California coast to find out just how grand Aston Martin’s latest grand tourer actually is.
The concept of the grand touring car traces its roots back to pre-World War II Europe. A two-seater or 2+2, a grand tourer could carry you, your sweetie, and your luggage to a weekend getaway and do it at high speeds. If it got you there in style and handled well on twisty mountain roads along the way, so much the better.
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The Volante trades the seductive coupe hardtop for a convertible cloth top that opens in 14 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. With eight layers, it seals out the wind and weather, as well as the ambient noise.
But Aston Martin gives owners a good reason to drop the top, aside from letting the wind whip through your hair—for those of you who have hair. It’s 4.0 liters of twin-turbocharged V-8 fury that comes by way of Mercedes-AMG. To make it sound like a proper British sports car, company engineers replaced the intake and exhaust to bring up the Aston Martin-like midrange and high tones in the mix.
As a result, the V-8 sings a deep, rumbling, sonorous note, especially in the Sport modes, which also trigger barks and rasps during shifts. And it gives the DB11 the high-speed capability of a proper grand tourer, rocketing the car from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. The top speed is the same 187 mph as the coupe, but it might not be wise to tempt fate at that speed because the coupe’s Aeroblade, which sends air through the C-pillars the help create downforce and keep the car planted at speed, can’t be part of the droptop formula.
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The turbos need to spool up from a stop, so it won’t roast the tires. Once it’s underway, the throttle responds immediately, passing is a breeze, and the ZF 8-speed transmission shifts crisply.
Handling is equally charming. The new structure is 57 pounds lighter and 5-percent stiffer than the outgoing one, but it adds 242 pounds of weight versus the coupe due to additional structural components to make up for the lack of a roof.
On the road, the DB11 Volante delivers the kind of smooth, responsive dynamics you’d want in a grand tourer. Sharp steering carves into corners and the chassis is happy to follow along on mountain switchbacks. The structure feels solid, without the quavering you can get in a convertible, and 6-piston calipers chomp down on big 15.7-inch front discs to provide worry-free stopping power.
The interior is as beautiful as the exterior. It comes standard with leather and wood or carbon fiber trim. But Aston Martin lets buyers personalize their cockpits with numerous trim and color choices. Our test car featured two-tone Cream Truffle and Aurora Blue leather that was both quilted and brogued. The supple leather was offset by Dyed Tamo Open Pore wood trim that even extended to the seatbacks. Absolutely stunning.
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For infotainment, Aston turned to Mercedes again, which enabled a system with more functionality than a small company would normally be able to develop. While the DB11 Volante does have a pair of rear seats, think of them as package shelves. After all, more than two is a crowd for a weekend getaway with your best gal.
So, how does the 2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante rate as a grand tourer? It has room for two and their luggage for a weekend away. Check.
It can travel at high speeds and handle mountain roads with grace. Check.
It will get you and your sweetie anywhere you want to go in style. Double check.
And if you don’t have a sweetie, a car like this just might get you one.