Drop-top version of Aston Martin’s best model is just as desirable as the coupé. A massive amount of character underpinned by a mostly excellent sports car

What is it?

The noise alone would be almost enough to justify the £147,000 asking price of the elegant new Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster. 

To be fair, though, the V12 Roadster has an awful lot more going for it than a loud and very lovely exhaust note.

It also happens to be the fastest, most powerful convertible that Aston Martin has yet produced and features upgrades to its steering, styling, chassis, brakes and interior that make it very nearly as wonderful to drive as it is to listen to, albeit with one fairly major caveat that we’ll come to.

The V12 itself has been massaged to produce a thumping 565bhp at 6750rpm alongside 457lb ft at 5500rpm. Claimed performance is thunderous, yes, but not quite in the same league as the fastest rivals at this level; 0-60mph takes 3.9sec and top speed is 201mph.

A Porsche 911 Turbo S cabriolet is a fair bit quicker off the line and to three figures, beyond which the longer-legged Aston gradually starts to reel it back in. Overall, though, it’s way more than quick enough, thank you very much.

Not that tyre-shredding performance is ultimately what the V12 Roadster is all about, despite its prodigious reserves. Arriving at your destination in maximum style, having had the maximum amount of fun en route, is more what this Aston has been designed for.

Visually, the V12 S can be distinguished from lesser Aston Martin Vantage Roadsters by its beautiful leather-clad rear buttresses (with its electric hood down) and by its feistier-looking black grille, as well as its handsome new 19-inch wheels front and rear. 

There’s also a fairly brazen-looking V12 Vantage S badge on the bootlid and, if you look closely enough, you might also spot that the brake discs are freckled in appearance because they are made not from steel but from a carbon-ceramic composite instead.

What's it like?

On the move, the V12 Roadster feels and sounds every inch as dramatic as you’d want it to be. At 2000rpm, it feels comfortable, relaxed but primed. At 6000rpm and beyond, it is utterly magnificent.

But there are issues, one in particular that’s hard, if not impossible, to overlook.

It concerns the seven-speed automated manual gearbox. Despite Aston’s claim that the V12 Roadster’s Sportshift III paddle-shift gearbox endows the car with the feel and gearchange characteristics of a contemporary racing car, it does nothing of the sort. 

In practice, the upshifts are painfully slow beside the best, and the downshifts are only a touch better. In any of its settings (Normal, Sport, Track), the gearbox is the one element that lets this otherwise fantastic car down.

Which is a shame because the rest of it – not just the noise and performance but also the ride, the steering, the brakes and the overall levels of handling sharpness, on road or track – are right up there with the very best in this class

Quite why Aston Martin didn’t fit the V12 Vantage S with the excellent eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox that has just transformed the Vanquish S –  which uses the same engine – is a mystery that can be explained only by the constraints of an increasingly tight engineering budget.

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Should I buy one?

Don’t let this lone aspect put you off too much. To look at, the V12 Roadster is breathtaking; to drive, it is deeply rewarding and highly entertaining for myriad reasons, and to listen to, it is pure heaven. 

For these reasons and more, it is a car that, as an enthusiast, you cannot help but fall in love with, no matter how infuriating its gearbox might be.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

Price £147,000; 0-62mph 3.9sec; Top speed 201mph (limited); Economy 19.2mpg (combined); CO2 343g/km; Kerb weight 1820kg; Engine V12, 5935cc, petrol; Power 565bhp at 6750rpm; Torque 457lb ft at 5500rpm; Gearbox 7-speed automated manual

Add a comment…
alaoor 28 September 2014

Aston Martin

I think Aston Martin good car ,but I think if they can make seven seat Aston Martin may be will be good for families .