Aston Martin Vantage S Roadster

Beefier looks, more power and an intoxicating soundtrack.... we blast off in Brit firm’s hottest ever V8 drop-top

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Vantage S Roadster has a blend of pace and open-top grace that fans of the brand will love. The chassis tweaks mean it’s the most engaging version yet, while upgrades to the 4.7-litre V8 have boosted performance. And thanks to the folding roof, you can hear every note of its amazing soundtrack. It’s as good to drive as the Coupé, even if the new seven-speed gearbox could be improved.

Aston Martin has opened up its latest performance car. Arriving hot on the heels of the new V8 Vantage S coupé is this Roadster version. 

It joins the hard-top as the most powerful version of the Vantage, and has a new seven-speed Sportshift transmission.

Wider sills, a deeper front splitter and enlarged cooling vents give the new car a more muscular stance. The tightly designed fabric hood is the same as that of the standard Roadster, and folds in less than 30 seconds. It can be operated on the move at speeds of up to 20mph. 

With it down, you get to enjoy the Vantage’s V8 bark and delightful exhaust crackle even more – and this character makes the Aston instantly feel special. 

Under the bonnet, the 4.7-litre unit is tuned to a potent 430bhp. It really comes into its own from 3,500rpm – where a revised air intake valve opens to deliver greater power – while maximum torque arrives at 5,000rpm.

But as with the Coupé, the new gearbox brings the biggest step forward. Used exclusively in the S models, the automated manual is 24kg lighter than the previous incarnation, and has seven ratios for the first time. With the first six stacked closer together, it keeps the engine in its sweet spot above 3,500rpm. Seventh gear helps enhance refinement and economy. 

Although the new seven-speed unit delivers 20 per cent quicker shifts, it isn’t as smooth or rapid as the double-clutch systems found in some rivals. 

But switch to Sport mode, then change up with a wide-open throttle, and you get faster, if slightly brutal, upshifts. 

The Sport button also gives you a sharper throttle response. Coupled with the new gearbox, the S provides scintillating performance. Crucially, losing the roof hasn’t compromised its approach. Although the strengthening needed to maintain stiffness means the Roadster weighs 80kg more, it has identical 0-62mph and top speed figures to the coupé. And from behind the wheel, it’s hard to detect any differences. 

Even with the top folded, there’s little in the way of scuttle shake, windscreen twist and steering kickback to pollute the driving experience. Thanks to a host of chassis upgrades in S trim, Aston has evolved the established Vantage into a very well rounded sports car. 

It isn’t revolutionary, but a faster steering rack improves agility, while 10mm wider front tyres deliver a positive turn-in and loads of front-end grip. 

When set to Track mode, the two-stage stability control system allows a little slip at the rear before power is cut back. 

The newcomer is sharper than the standard car, and more engaging to drive, while revised spring and damper settings mean the ride is firm, but not brittle or uncomfortable. 

In fact, with a well insulated hood, plus a comfortable and sumptuous cabin, the S is a great long-distance companion. An optional Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel and carbon sports seats provide a racy edge, yet it’s the quality of the materials and the unique switchgear that really make the Vantage’s cabin feel special. 

Opt for the Roadster, and you have to make do with a 144-litre boot – the Coupé offers 300 litres – but there’s a small shelf behind the seats, and dropping the hood doesn’t compromise luggage capacity. 

Beautiful, fast and engaging, the Vantage S delivers roadster style and sports car driving thrills in a very desirable package.

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