As sure as day follows night, Aston Martin has cut the roof off its new DB12 ‘super tourer’. Coming just a few short months after the DB12 coupe – and mere weeks after we drove it in Monaco – the open-top DB12 Volante has the same engine and the same blistering performance as its tin-topped sibling, but with an extra helping of wind-in-your-hair excitement.
Boasting what Aston claims to be a best-in-class roof design, the latest drop-top DB features the same twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox as its coupe sibling, producing 680 PS (670 horsepower). The 0-60mph sprint is completed in the same 3.6 seconds as the coupe, and the 202 mph top speed is also unchanged.
Similarly, the Volante benefits from the same all-new, in-house infotainment system debuted in the DB12. Comprising a pair of 10.25in displays with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s a massive improvement on the dated, Mercedes-sourced system from the DB11 and other Astons of old. There’s also a smartphone app and over-the-air software updates to come in the future, Aston says.
Other shared components include the shortened final drive ratio to improve acceleration, new-generation adaptive dampers with 500 percent extra bandwidth of force distribution compared to Aston’s previous efforts, and bespoke Michelin Pilot S 5 tyres developed specifically for the DB12. Carbon ceramic brakes are an optional extra, increasing performance, reducing brake fade and cutting 27 kg of unsprung mass.
The biggest difference is, of course, the roof. The DB12 Volante has an electrically-operated ‘K-fold’ fabric roof, named after its two-stage folding mechanism that Aston says has a class-leading “stack height” – how much vertical space it occupies when folded – of 260mm. The roof takes 14 seconds to open and 16 seconds to close, and can be operated while driving at up to 31 mph and into an equally gusty headwind. The roof can also be operated with a press of the key fob when standing within two metres of the car. Colour options for the roof are black, red, blue and black with silver.
Like the DB12, Aston Martin is positioning the Volante as “a true driver’s car first and foremost,” the company says, as it launches a bid to compete in the same performance ballpark as the likes of Ferrari and McLaren.
The company’s chief technical officer Roberto Fedeli said: “Volante possesses all the Super Tourer traits so successfully introduced in the DB12 Coupe…No longer the ‘softer’ option, DB12 Volante offers the stimulation of a true sports car”.
Aston chief executive Amedeo Felisa said: “For many of our customers, roof down driving is the greatest pleasure...With the new DB12 Volante we have changed the rules, creating a car that intensifies those feelings by preserving all the purity and exceptional sporting capabilities of the DB12 coupe.”
Developed in unison with the DB12, the Volante shares the same rigid bonded aluminium structure, which was designed from the outset to work with both the coupe and convertible.
Topless cars tend to lack the stiffness of their coupe counterparts. In a bid to address this Aston says it has stiffened key structural elements like the rear suspension upper mounting points and engine cross bracing. Meanwhile, the lateral stiffness of the mounting points for the suspension components of the front axle is increased by 140 percent. This has led to improvements in on- and off-centre steering feel, Aston says, as well as an overall sense of driver connection.
We’ll be keen to find out for ourselves when the first DB12 Volantes arrive in the fourth quarter of 2023. The car will make its global public debut in California this week at The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering.