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Drive Of The Month: The Aston Martin

What surprised me most about this Vanquish was just how useable it is as an everyday car

October 8, 2014 | By:

Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor puts Aston Martin’s new convertible, the Vanquish Volante, to the test. And, in case $297,995 is too punchy, Chevrolet’s Camaro Convertible

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Aston Martin’s Vanquish Volante: prettier than a couple of conch shells

White leather seats with red stitching sound as masculine as a poodle wearing stilettos. The latest Aston Martin is more macho than James Bond’s swimming trunks but I’ll wager 007 would never opt for a ‘cream truffle’ interior pack in his new Vanquish Volante.

Alas, I had no choice, but it didn’t spoil my time with the ultimate British grand tour. The Vanquish Volante is the first Aston Martin convertible with a carbon fiber bodyshell. It looks more desirable than former Bond girl Ursula Andress carrying a couple of conch shells.

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The Volante will certainly turn as many heads, wherever you drive it. Beautiful from any angle, it’s as gorgeous with the roof up as it is down. Just what I would expect from a convertible that costs a fiver less than $297,995 and is Aston’s most expensive offering.

Keep in mind that Icy roads aren’t well-suited for testing a V12 supercar with 565 horses under the hood. Those 20-inch rear wheels constantly scrabble for grip, especially if you opt for ‘Sport’ mode and exercise your right foot across the New England countryside.

Bond would certainly approve of the Volante’s outrageous soundtrack. The burble from the 6.0-liter engine is amplified down two exhaust pipes that only serve to announce your arrival from a great distance.

Considering the cost

I’ll be honest, I rarely switched the 1,000w Bang & Olufsen soundsystem on. And when I did, it was just to marvel at the two tweeter speakers, as they rose up on top of the dashboard, shaped like a couple of GM mushrooms.

I may be 50, but I shudder at the thought of what a car like the Volante might cost me to insure. Just curbing those uber expensive wheels would be painful; losing the exquisite glass, keyless ‘key’ more than a thousand dollars. At least fuel consumption of 18.1mpg suddenly sounds acceptable.

The Volante spent the night locked up safely behind 20-feet gates at the contemporary hotel during my stay in England. Amazing as the electronically folding top is, discovering a slashed roof in the morning could seriously damage your sense of humor.

After scarfing my way through a breakfast of epic proportions, it was a delight to be wrapped in heated leather again. The Volante roof drops in seconds and can be activated while the car is moving. 

What surprised me most about this Vanquish was just how useable it is as an everyday car. Provided you don’t have to climb too many sleeping policemen or squeeze into narrow parking spaces and know the location of every speed camera in the country, you can convince yourself that it’s damn near as practical as a VW.

It’s true that there is absolutely no legroom for the rear two seats, Aston forgot to include a glove box and the Vanquish Volante is more than $100,000 more expensive than the delightful DB9 Volante. But if you want to be perceived as James Bond, it’s the only way to go.

The alternative: Chevrolet’s Camaro Convertible

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Want a cheaper alternative? The brutish Camaro is a genuine alternative to the Vanquish Volante.

Powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 426bhp, the Chevy is only available in left-hand drive and displays two, go-faster stripes on the hood and trunk.

There is nothing subtle about the Camaro but at $31,000 it is astonishing value for money. It will also turn heads, if not always for the right reasons.

This is an iconic American muscle machine that screams for attention. It competes head-on with the Ford Mustang and is now the nation’s most popular sports car.

The Camaro prefers highways to country roads but with so much power on tap it’s still an absolute joy to drive, if you know how to cope with the occasional tail slide.

Despite all that power, the Chevrolet is a very heavy car and, sadly, dimensionally-challenged too. From fender to fender the Camaro measures 4.8 metres, so it isn’t designed for our supermarket parking lots, either.

If you can cope its less-than-classy reputation, a limited choice of garish color schemes, and driving a big car, the Camaro convertible deserves to be taken seriously.