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First drive: Aston Martin Vantage Roadster. Image by Aston Martin UK.

First drive: Aston Martin Vantage Roadster
Noisy V8 goodness and open-air thrills are what you get with the new Aston Martin Vantage Roadster. What’s not to like?

 



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Aston Martin Vantage Roadster

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The rather excellent Aston Martin Vantage Coupe goes lidless for the all-new Roadster model. Sporting the same superb chassis and stonking drivetrain, only now the 4.0-litre unit is even more audible than ever before, this is a deeply alluring top-end convertible sports car.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Aston Martin Vantage Roadster
Pricing: Vantage Roadster from £126,950, car as tested from £149,065
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive with E-Diff electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, eight-speed ZF automatic
Body style: two-door prestige roadster
CO2 emissions: 262g/km (VED Band Over 255: £2,175 first 12 months, then £475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 24.2mpg
Top speed: 190mph
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 685Nm at 2,000-5,000rpm
Boot space: 200 litres

What's this?

One of the best-looking modern Astons, given the folding soft-top arrangement and the Roadster name; as, apparently, 'Volante' is reserved for the four-seat (*cough* 2+2 *cough) convertibles from the British marque. Anyway, internal naming conventions aside, the Aston Vantage Roadster for 2020 is an absolute stunner from all angles, hood up or down. The designers have done a wonderful job of integrating the fabric cover into the overall compact, muscular shape of the Vantage and it will relentlessly turn heads wherever it goes - so much so that, during our test drive, a bloke at the wheel of a DBS Superleggera Volante couldn't take his eyes off the Roadster as he drove past it in the other direction. Better than the sheer aesthetic drop-dead-gorgeousness of it all is the fact the Roadster doesn't sacrifice much in terms of weight, structural rigidity nor protection from the vagaries of the UK weather when compared to the Coupe: so, a Roadster is only 60kg heavier than a directly equivalent Coupe, structural bracing in its underpinnings prevents any feeling of flex from the frame during open-top motoring, and the roof itself raises and lowers in less than seven seconds. Yes, including on the move, at speeds of up to 31mph.

But while you'll drool all over the Vantage Roadster's exterior, the interior might not strike you to be quite as gobsmacking. It's finished with some suitably top-notch materials, such as the leather for the seats, door cards and dash, and there are magnificent large metal shifters for the automatic gearbox (the Roadster doesn't yet get the seven-speed manual from the Vantage AMR, whereas the 'regular' Coupe does) and those trademark Aston door latches to enjoy. Yet non-touch-responsive, previous-gen Mercedes infotainment with the rotary controller on the dash is poorly disguised, while the column stalk is straight out of an A-Class. Sure, parts-sharing is not a crime in the 21st century, per se - after all, we know where Aston Martin procured the Vantage's 4.0-litre biturbo V8 from, don't we? - but when you're paying £127,000 at least, and almost £150,000 in the case of our test car, for some of the finest British craftsmanship going, workaday Teutonic signposts in the cabin are not massively welcome. Perhaps more of a problem is that the centre console and transmission tunnel are both incredibly button-busy and, regrettably, some of said buttons look and feel a bit cheap, while the Vantage Roadster is also saddled with one of those odd squared-off steering wheels that Aston alone seems to think are a good idea.

The final fly in the ointment of the Roadster is that, while Aston has done a marvellous job of cleverly packaging up its ultra-rapid Z-fold roof, you still lose 150 litres of boot space compared to a Coupe, leaving the convertible model with just 200 litres of cargo capacity to play with. Ah well, it's not a GT, is it? It's a sports car. You want to go touring around Europe, pick a DB11 Volante instead.

How does it drive?

Our takeaway memory of the 2020 Vantage Roadster is that it was quite scandalously loud. Honestly, there can be few production cars which sound naughtier than this thing and yes, we're going to refer to that tired old soft-top-review trope of 'with the roof down, you can better hear what's going on with the engine/exhaust' etc etc. We're sorry about that but we have to mention it, for good reason: on a beautiful, hot, sunny day in Britain (yes, they exist), driving with the roof down and dialling the car up into Sport, the first full-bore upshift from second to third elicited such an absolutely deafening gunshot retort from the Aston's quad exhausts that we thought we'd accidentally meandered onto a military firing range by mistake.

It's fabulous noise, though, of course it is. It's the same Mercedes-AMG-derived V8 as employed by the DB11 and the DBX, toting the same horsepower (510hp) and marginally more torque (685Nm, +10Nm) than in the former but a touch down on outputs (-40hp and -15Nm) when compared to the latter. Not that any of this will concern you when you have heard the Vantage Roadster going through its full theatrical repertoire of snarls, gurgles, rumbles, thuds, explosive cracks and demonic bellows. You'll simply have a moronic grin plastered all over your Chevy, as you (for instance) needlessly and repeatedly back off the throttle when cruising to make it do something else that's acoustically antisocial.

The noise overlays performance which is admirably robust. Objectively, the Roadster loses two-tenths on the 0-62mph run and 5mph from its top end when compared to the Coupe source material, but subjectively you won't notice such 'deficiencies' in the slightest. The sublime ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox ensures there's no slop in the drivetrain and the traction afforded by massive 295/35 ZR20 Pirelli P Zero rear tyres means the Vantage Roadster is brutally quick in any situation, with minimal turbo lag to report - whatever trace amounts of the stuff is present is effortlessly masked by the millisecond-responses of the ZF transmission.

So it looks astonishing, it sounds amazing and it goes ferociously quick. Thankfully, it still perfectly blends the dichotomous characters of both a taut, controlled sports car with the luxurious qualities required of an Aston. Two buttons on the quadrilateral steering wheel control the dampers and the combination of steering/throttle sharpness/exhaust noise/damper rates, all of these starting at Sport and ramping up through Sport+ to, finally, Track. The great news is that there's clear differentiation in the weighting, responses and clarity of information coming back to the driver in each of the three modes, but by the same token none of them render the Vantage Roadster undriveable on the roads. In Sport, the car is reasonably placid and docile, and it has an exceptional level of ride comfort coupled to faultless acoustic refinement - that counts hood up or down, and on the latter score there's little occupant buffeting to report at speed when the cabin is open to the elements.

Step the Aston up into Sport+ or Track, though, and you will feel the instant upswing in intensity to everything it does - you'll also hear it, too, because the evil exhausts fully awaken in these two modes. Body control is fantastic across the board, with superb vertical control to the damping and enough elasticity to the wheel travel to ensure even rucked-up road surfaces are not a problem to the Vantage Roadster. There's no discernible wobble to the superstructure as you go along and all of turn-in, mid-corner balance and bend-exiting traction are as remarkable as they are on the Coupe. Factor in truly great steering and brakes which never struggle to control the 1,628kg (dry) mass of the Aston Martin, and what you have here is a first-rate sports car. It just so happens to be a first-rate sports car which you can open up to the elements, if you so wish.

Verdict

You're looking at a £12,100 premium to go from an Aston Martin Vantage Coupe to this Roadster model, which is less practical and which retains the somewhat so-so interior finishing of the 'regular' car. However, we think that extra cash is most emphatically worth it, because there are few machines in the world, soft-top or not, which are as joyous to drive and listen to as this Vantage Roadster, while the desirability level is off the charts. Arguably, this is our favourite open-topped Aston Martin of the lot, when you consider the whole package to include pricing and all. Quite tremendous stuff from Gaydon.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 23 Sep 2020









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2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.

2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.2020 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster UK drive. Image by Aston Martin UK.








 

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