The cool, calm, glamourous exterior of the Aston Martin DBS hides a bit of a secret.
You see Aston’s biggest hitter is a bit of an old-school monster. The drivetrain is awesome. It may not quite have the frenzied top end of the Ferrari 599GTB’s Enzo-derived motor, but the glorious 6-litre V12 and heavyweight manual ‘box make the DBS feel like a very serious supercar. It has 510bhp and 420lb ft and in the wet the traction control has no answers for a clumsily applied throttle pedal. For that reason alone I think it’s a very special car – a link to the flawed but wonderful Aston’s of old.
Somehow adding ‘Volante’ in to the mix doesn’t quite fit this mildly sadistic streak that runs beneath the sophisticated DBS surface. Or at least it shouldn’t. A Volante really is a south of France cruiser – forget all that rubbish about putting you closer to the elements, a convertible supercar is about making you more visible to the poor people you’re driving past. Fact. And as I love the DBS for what it does, not what it says about you to passers by, the thought of chopping off its roof makes me groan just a little bit. Not least because the only DB9 Volante I’ve ever driven was pretty, erm, wobbly.
Having said that Aston has gone to great lengths to eradicate shake and shimmy and flex, the most significant upgrade being a hard-mounted rear subframe attached at six points to the aluminium tub (the DB9 makes do with four), and I have to admit it feels like an entirely different car to that muddled DB9 (perhaps it was a bad one). It rides firmly and yet that killer convertible telltale, the steering column shake, is almost completely absent. Not only that but the DBS’ agility is intact: It changes direction positively, grips hard and even when the front tyres are really loaded-up the steering never clonks or feels like the assistance is struggling. The balance is well-judged too, with just a bit of understeer as you start to ask questions of the P Zero rubber. Of course you can light up the tyres should you disable the traction control (which seems much more effective now), but the DBS isn’t an easy, languid slider in the mould of an M3 and feels big and intimidating when it does go sideways. Best avoided unless on track, I’d suggest.
The drivetrain is still wonderful, although the added weight of the Volante (115kg) does blunt the huge punch and the car we tried was a torque-converter auto with the paddle shift ‘Touchtronic’ system, further chiseling away at the crazy edge that defines the manual Coupe. Aston still claim that the DBS Volante hits sixty in 4.3-seconds and runs on to 191mph, but it doesn’t feel quite that ferocious. In some ways it has become a fast cruiser to the hard-edged Coupe’s supercar.