Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster

We get behind the wheel of the new 510bhp V12 Vantage Roadster

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster is a bewitching car. You can buy faster and more dynamically superior models for the same money (Audi’s R8 V10 Spyder springs to mind). But when the sun is shining, the roof is down and your ears are totally exposed to the sound of that V12, few cars feel as special as this.

Back in 2009, Aston Martin squeezed its huge 6.0-litre V12 into the V8 Vantage’s tiny body. Despite our fears, the resulting car turned out to be an absolute riot, thanks to the engine’s blend of smoothness and ferocity, plus all the agility and control of its V8-engined sibling. Now Aston has done the same with its svelte drop-top: this is the V12 Vantage Roadster, yours for £150,000.

It’s a very compact car: smaller than the new Porsche 911, but crammed full of that V12, which makes 510bhp and 570Nm of torque. The bonnet is slashed with carbon-fibre vents to let hot gases escape and there are some subtle aero changes, such as a more pronounced rear spoiler.

Aston Martin claims that the V12 Vantage Roadster can hit a top speed of 190mph and cover 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds – only a tenth slower than the Coupe, despite the fact it weighs 80kg more. Although that’s not quite as quick as a 911 Turbo, the Vantage feels so much more special.

The sweet, torquey engine totally dominates the car’s character from the moment it bursts to life. The V12 Roadster is only available with a traditional six-speed manual gearbox, so you’re always in direct control of the engine, feeding its effortless performance to the rear wheels.

Most of the time, you can just amble along using its enormous amount of torque, but it’s very tempting to let it chomp through the mid-range and then wind around to the rev limiter. It’s just a shame that throttle response is lethargic in the car’s standard setting, then artificially sharp and jumpy if you select Sport mode. The six-speed box is terrific, too – despite its huge, awkwardly shaped oblong shifter.

The Vantage Roadster lacks the absolute precision and control of the Coupe, but its structure is still remarkably stiff. It does feel like a relatively heavy car when you start to exercise the engine on a bumpy British B-road, yet despite the odd heave over a crest, there’s fantastic turn-in, plus plenty of grip and traction. The steering delivers lots of feedback and the very powerful standard carbon-ceramic brakes also help boost your confidence.

This car’s interior is typical for an Aston: leather and Alcantara everywhere, along with beautiful instruments. Refinement with the roof up or down is superb – so all in all, it’s a fine way for a lucky few to spend £150,000.

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