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The DB11 Volante is the first convertible variant of Aston Martin's new model generation. How does it compare to the likes of the new Ferrari Portofino?
Matt Prior
19 February 2018

What is it?

This handsome thing is the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. Aston created a new architecture for the DB11, replacing the old aluminium VH platform that underpinned everything it made with a new aluminium one, which will eventually underpin most things it will make. 

And it was pretty good when it landed. Really good, in fact. Still, ever since that first introduction of it, in the DB11 V12 coupé, Aston’s engineers have been tweaking and amending it – you’ll read about what they’ve done for the Vantage soon enough – and they’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Here they’ve learned how to attach a soft-top to it, rather handsomely, I’d say. The key is getting enough layers in it to insulate, but not so many that it’s heavily pronounced. They’re proud of how little space it takes up behind the rear seats, and how much room it still leaves in the boot. There’s a sliding divider in there, but with the roof up, and the divider out of the way, there’s 206 litres of boot space, 20% more than in a DB9 Volante.

Other numbers? Despite stiffening in the sills, by increasing the metal’s wall thickness, 45%-more-rigid bushes in the isolated rear subframe and redesigning what they colloquially call the ‘garden gate’ – a cross-member that runs across the car ahead of the engine and locates to the cast suspension mounts – the chassis’ torsional rigidity has fallen from 34kN/deg on the coupé to 22kN/deg here.

That, though, is considerably more than the 14.7kN/deg of the DB9 Volante, and anything over 20kN/deg gives engineers something fairly rigid to work with. It adds a bit to the weight of this V8-only model, mind; 110kg over the DB11 V8 coupé, leaving it the same weight as the V12 coupé. The hood operates, quietly, at up to 31mph. It adds £15k to the coupé’s price.


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What's it like?

The engine, Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 with a 503bhp Aston tune, sits at the front as it does in the coupé, using the same exhaust so there’s no extra noise, driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

There are tweaks to springs and dampers to compensate for the high, rearward application of weight – the distribution is a couple of per cent rearward, at 47/53 front to rear – but fundamentally the Volante retains a similar character to the coupé. I think it rides just as well, and has the benign, easy handling balance in crummy conditions that made the V8 coupé finish well up the order at our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car shootout last December. 

If anything, I think it steers even better. In stiffening that ‘garden gate’, Aston has discovered a bit more about the underpinning platform and the extra strength has translated to improved steering response and feel. It’s still not as rich with messages as, say, the outgoing V12 Vantage S, but not much in motordom is. What it has done is lift the DB11’s rack closer to the top of the game for electrically assisted systems.

Further from the top of the game is the DB11’s interior. In isolation, it’s mostly fine – although the air vents don’t belong in a £160,000 car and the digital instrument display colours are a bit ZX Spectrum – but take a look at it after, say, the new Bentley Continental GT and you’ll see what you’re missing.

Should I buy one?

Bear in mind that as well as missing some Bentley-style luxuries, what the Aston is also missing is more than a third of a tonne of the Bentley’s kerb weight. The Aston, at 1870kg, still hovers around the sports end of the sports-GT market, then, which leaves it in a fairly unusual space: more expensive than Porsches, more GT-ish than junior supercars and more agile than four-wheel-drive machines. It’s space in the market it fills rather compellingly.

Aston Martin DB11 Volante

Where Nice, France On sale Now Price £159,900 Engine V8, 3982cc, twin-turbocharged petrol; Power 503bhp at 6000rpm Torque 514lb ft at 2000-5000rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerbweight 1870kg Top speed 0-62mph Fuel economy 28.3mpg CO2 230g/km 37% Rivals Bentley Continental GT, Ferrari Portofino


Join the debate


19 February 2018

first time I’ve seen this, but to my eyes it looks like when the Chinese rip off a western design. What on earth is that front wheel arch design. As for the rectangle steering wheel, what were they thinking. 


19 February 2018

It a great car. I like it I got my Scale 1:18 DB11 last January. This is good news for V8 Aston Martin 4 seaters.

19 February 2018
I fail to see how this car gets 4.5 stars while the Portofino gets only 3.5.

19 February 2018
manicm wrote:

I fail to see how this car gets 4.5 stars while the Portofino gets only 3.5.'s better at being an Aston Martin than the Portofino is at being a Ferrari, I expect. In other words, it more closely fulfills its design brief. That seems to me to be the essence of Autocar's star system.

19 February 2018

One of the very few really beautiful cars in the a price.

19 February 2018

...only a mother could love.

19 February 2018

I think it's beautiful. I get people not liking the coupe, with the strake things, but this is just perfect ( on the outside ).

19 February 2018

With the biggest variations of subjectives - but IF something unbelievable happened and a large wad or three of 50's landed on my desk - off I would trot because I've lusted for an AM all my miserable life (misrable because its not been ownership achieved) However, I am miffed at the sudden lack of beautiful veneer - something which for me at least, makes not just a more beautiful and sumptuous environment, but makes it also more classic. To hell with the infotainment malarky - who needs - you just happy to drive and hopefully get happily lost allowing you to enjoy time finding yourself

19 February 2018

A coupe version past me in a narrow road on my way home last week, first car for a long time which turned my head and made me think 'that is a beautiful car, I want'. Classy but not show off/shouty ala Ferrari, Bentley etc. Couldn't imagine a better way to cruise to the south of France than in this Volante. And its built in Britain!    

19 February 2018

"How does it compare to the likes of the new Ferrari Portofino?". It doesn't, at least in this article. Ferrari is way more powerful (almost 100 bhp) and lighter (more than 200 kg). It has a metal roof too. They cost more or less the same. But (only for Autocar, all other mags' reviews were different) the Ferrari gets 3,5 stars. It must be a really crappy car... or it's just a Ferrari, so let's have a go at them.

Utterly ridiculous, as always.


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