What is it?
Unusually for an Aston, especially one with a 12-cylinder engine, the V12 Roadster feels like it arrived in the office a little under the wire. Most likely this is because it was revealed in the summer at about the same time as the new Vanquish, and has consequently remained in its shadow.
Nevertheless, there’s no doubt it deserves at least as much attention as its bigger brother. Combining the Vantage’s droptop magnificence with the manufacturer’s flagship 510bhp 6.0-litre motor is like putting brandy on the homemade Christmas pudding. And then lighting it with an oxyacetylene torch.
As it has already made its debut in the coupé, not too much wrangling is required to squeeze four more cylinders into the Roadster. Aston has redesigned the rear boot lid to reduce lift and rethought the lower front air intake, but otherwise it is much the same as its V8 sibling. In other words, this is an extremely handsome car.
Underneath, the chassis does get a tweak to deal with the bigger powerplant. A new rear spring design has been incorporated alongside a modified damper setup in the interests of exploiting the V12 Vantage’s fearsome straight-line speed.
The other most meaningful addition is to the price tag: the model starts at £150,000. That’s a healthy five-figure sum more than the 430bhp S version of the V8.
What is it like?
Predictably, damp and greasy December nights are not the ideal test conditions for a V12-engined Aston. Conjuring up just two-thirds of the engine’s potential means either spotlighting your perspiring brow with the amber glow of a near-permanently lit traction control light or spilling at least half the stable into the gutter. Occasionally, manically, both occur at once.
It would, of course, be possible to avoid such an ungainly slither home simply by not trying so hard but that would deny you access to the reverberating orchestral accompaniment that is the most appealing aspect of losing the Vantage’s roof and investing in more mechanical ironmongery.
Depress the sport button (exclusive to the V12 model) and the engine and throttle map do their usual costume change. Above a few thousand revs and beneath a couple of inches of accelerator travel, the Aston’s exhaust begins chain-smoking the atmosphere like a throttled-up turbojet. Back off the party pedal to temper the unruly rear and the tenor overruns into a pavement-strafing barrage of thunderous cacophony, thus you helplessly blunder and bladder your way through the gloom, provoking onlooker disgust and delight in equal measure.
Therein lies the quandary: the topless V8 Vantage may feel underpowered by comparison, but it has the subtlety and class of a Huntsman & Sons shooting suit. The V12 is like clanking through a quiet dinner party in a suit of armour while brandishing a claymore.
Should I buy one?
If your heart is simply set on the majesty of a topless Vantage, then the V8 does just as good a job of fondling the public’s gaze, drives in much the same muscular way and is far cheaper to buy and run. However, if you want a car that brims with Aston Martin pomp, presence and performance, then there really is no other option. We’d take the swashbuckler and pray for an early spring.
Aston Martin Vantage V12 Roadster
Price: £149,995; 0-62mph: 4.2 seconds; Top speed: 190mph; Economy: 17.3mpg; CO2: 388g/km; Kerb weight: 1680kg; Engine type, cc: V12, 5,935cc, petrol; Power: 510bhp at 6500rpm; Torque: 420lb ft at 5750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual