Aston Martin DB9 Volante review
The soft-top Aston Martin DB9 Volante is Britain’s answer to the Ferrari California and Mercedes SL65
The Aston Martin DB9 Volante is stunning to look at and entertaining to drive, and as Aston’s staple product, the DB9 has a lot resting on it. The Volante, as the convertible version is called, makes rivals look a little dull, with an elegance and desirability that few cars can match. It’s refined, well made and comfortable but, like the DB9 coupe, the Volante lags far behind rivals such as the Mercedes SL65 and Bentley Continental GTC in terms of practicality and technology.
Our choice: DB9 Volante 6.0 V12
The DB9 Volante is one of the most beautiful cars in the world, and despite a host of new panels, the latest version still carries off that classic Aston Martin look with ease. It’s a familiar look, though, and the DB9 Volante struggles to stand apart from the rest of the range. Its interior has been carried over from the previous model with improvements to materials and textures so it’s still a beautiful, sumptuous cabin that’s exquisitely crafted and well finished. From a usability perspective, it’s behind the times, though, with too many old-school buttons around the dash.
While the DB9 Volante isn’t quite as stiff as the Coupe, lower the roof and it's even more entertaining. The sound of the 510bhp V12 bouncing off walls is glorious and, with the added sensation of speed, wind and noise the convertible allows, it offers massive thrills. There’s the same 0-62mph time of 4.6-seconds as the Coupe, and the same three-mode suspension. It turns in sharply and has masses of grip so you can power out of one corner and swiftly on to the next one. The carbon-ceramic brakes, which are fitted as standard, are brilliant with awesome stopping power, and while the Volante has a tiny bit of body shake, it’s still remarkably stable, with predictable handling despite its softer ride.
The first DB9 went on sale in 2004 and it’s been progressively refined and honed since, with reliability improving all the while. The 6.0-litre V12 is well proven and used throughout the Aston range, so any bugs have been well and truly ironed out, with few problems from the engine, transmission or driveline. The interior is well made and easily stands the test of time in terms of quality. As the DB9 isn’t made in large quantities, it doesn’t undergo a Euro NCAP test. But standard safety kit includes airbags, traction and stability control as well as a newly designed front-end that meets pedestrian safety legislation while maintaining the traditional Aston front grille.
The DB9 isn’t the practical buyer’s choice, with the roof leaving a meagre 187-litre boot. That’s less space than the Mercedes SL65 AMG and the Bentley Continental GTC. However, the DB9 Volante’s rear seats are much more suited to carrying extra luggage than fitting adults. Only the smallest of children will find comfort there, as there’s limited legroom. Ultimately, the DB9 Volante is designed for grand touring for two, with plenty of room in the front seats. The folding roof is user friendly, though, as it takes only 14 seconds to open or close and can be operated at speeds of up to 30mph. That means you won’t have to wait for a red light or find a place to stop should you have to escape the rain.
This is the most fuel-efficient DB9 Volante ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to win any eco awards. The V12 has been re-engineered and the overall weight of the DB9 has dropped 15kg, but it still averages 19.8mpg while emitting 333g/km of CO2. That’s not as terrible as it seems, as the Bentley Continental GTC is even thirstier, with 19.0mpg and 384g/km of CO2. What it does mean is that road tax and insurance for the DB9 are high, while the lack of significant change to the model is starting to have a negative affect on resale values.