Does the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster have the desirability of its coupé sibling?

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When a car sounds as good as the Aston Martin Vantage coupé, a convertible version is something that we are genetically obliged to get excited about.

We had to wait a year and a half after the introduction of the coupé, but this didn't dampen our enthusiasm for it one bit.

The Aston Martin Vantage is Aston’s most successful car ever

And despite the apparent wait, the roadster had actually always been on the cards since the inception of the V8 Aston Martin Vantage, which quickly became Aston’s most successful car ever. Rightly so. The range was joined by the sportier V8 S and the naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 S.

In our Aston Martin Vantage coupé review we said we could understand entirely if you chose a V8 Aston Martin Vantage over a Porsche 911.

Question is, does the roadster have all the desirability of the coupé? 



V8 Vantage Roadster's door handle

Like the V8 Aston Martin Vantage coupé, the roadster is constructed on Aston Martin’s VH (vertical-horizontal) platform, first seen on the Vanquish.

Similar in principle to the basis of the Lotus Elise, the VH platform uses aluminium extrusions and castings, bonded and riveted together. This is both light (the chassis weighs just 197kg) and particularly well suited to convertible cars, with the majority of the car’s rigidity coming from the chassis rather than exterior body panels.

The fabric roof means it can stow without impacting the cars rear-end styling

That said, for the roadster Aston has included additional strengthening, but the extent is minimal and it adds just 14kg to the chassis weight. 

Other than the new fabric roof, which raises and lowers at the touch of a button in 22 seconds, and the addition of a pair of elegant buttresses to the rear deck, the roadster’s design and construction mirrors that of the coupé with aluminium, steel and composite body panels.

The suspension architecture is also identical: aluminium double wishbones, coils springs and anti-roll bars front and rear. However, for the roadster Aston has tweaked the V8 Vantage set-up, increasing spring stiffness and raising the ride height – changes that will find their way into the coupé. The V12 S gets an adaptive suspension set-up with rear getting dual-rate coil springs.

A conventional six-speed manual is standard, but the roadster can be specifed with Sportshift, an automated manual with an electro-hydraulic clutch and steering wheel paddles, while the more powerful V12 S Roadster is only available with Aston Martin's Sportshift III 'box.


Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster's interior

Simply stepping inside the V8 Vantage’s cabin goes a long way to conveying the magic of Aston Martin.

The doors are hinged so that as they open they arch not just outwards but also upwards, and pulling them shut behind you gives the impression of a closing canopy, leaving you encased in a cabin trimmed in soft leather, hand stitched – in the case of our test car – in contrasting yellow.

There are few compromises for choosing the soft-top

The seats, uprated from those fitted to the original Vantage coupé (new design and more lumbar adjustability) are low-set. With eight-way electric adjustment they can be arranged with a conventional flat base or, should you wish, a more sporting, Italian supercar, ‘bum low, knees high’ position. Either way, most sizes should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel.

Your view is dominated by a high-set scuttle, sculpted into a curved wall of leather and dissected by a centre stack of controls for the heating and infotainment screen. The switchgear is a mixture of bespoke Aston Martin and parts borrowed from Volvo, but the combination is elegant and the design, for the most part, is ergonomically effective.

As with the Vantage coupé and the DB9 before it, the dials are worthy of particular praise, combining clarity with an alluring jewel-like appearance. They’re at their very best back-illuminated in the evening twilight. The inside of the roof is trimmed in tactile alcantara, blending neatly with the covering on the A-pillars, and it makes the soft-top feel no less sumptuous than the coupé. 

Furthermore, the removable roof means little sacrifice on longer journeys; there is, as you’d expect, more wind noise than the tin-top, particularly around the B-pillars, but not so much to merit a disturbance.

The biggest price is more restricted rear three-quarter visibility, but that problem that can easily be solved by lowering the roof, leaving a rear view interrupted only by the handsome buttresses.

Yet for all the Vantage roadster’s glamour, it is not without its frustrations: some controls require a precise digit, the switches for the interior lights are confusingly jumbled in among the radio controls and there is precious little storage space in the cabin, while the boot is half the size of the coupé’s (144 litres versus 300).

As for standard equipment, the V8 S Roadster gets 19in alloy wheels, a limited slip differential, sports-tuned suspension, floating brake discs, rear parking sensors, and a carbonfibre front splitter and diffuser on the outside. Inside there is swathes of leather throughout the cabin, climate control, iridium dashboard trim, cruise control, sports seats and Aston Martin's infotainment system.

Upgrade to the V12 S Roadster and you get adaptive suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, touches of Alcantara, LED interior ambient lighting and Pirelli P-Zero tyres.


The 4.7-litre V8 Vantage Roadster

The similarities between the Aston Martin's smallest coupé and the drop-top don’t stop at their chassis. The V8 Vantage S Roadster also shares the coupe’s 4.7-litre, dry-sumped V8 in precisely the same state of tune, as does the V12 S model.

So despite giving away 80kg to the coupé, the roadster has a broadly similar, junior-supercar level of performance. With a higher drag coefficient (0.35 versus 0.34) and barely a difference in their frontal profiles, the roadster was a tad slower on high-speed runs at Bruntingthorpe airfield, hitting 157mph compared with the coupé’s 165mph in the same length of track. 

The V8 sounds even better with the roof stowed

But it’s the nature of the naturally aspirated V8’s power delivery that makes the Vantage roadster feel, if not exactly slow, then certainly more lethargic than most of its rivals. A Porsche 911 Carrera S cabriolet feels more responsive through more of its rev range than the Aston, while a Mercedes-AMG SL 63 feels positively ballistic in comparison.

The V8 Vantage’s power delivery and response are soft at low revs, and it only offers real urgency above 4000rpm. At least when the V8 finally does let loose, it does so with a glorious, hard-edged V8 noise that hood-down driving lets you get the most from. 

If someone said this was the best engine note in production, we’d find it difficult to argue otherwise. But the truth is that at the other side of £90,000, the V8 roadster ought to feel seriously fast, and it doesn’t. The V12 is equally compelling to listen to, and has the performance to go with the noise as the 565bhp Roadster can blast to 60mph in 3.7sec.

We’ve no complaints about the brakes, though; they have a solid, progressive pedal feel and offer excellent stopping distances, wet or dry. They resist fade strongly, too.


The sizeable Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

Although we criticised the V8 Aston Martin Vantage coupé for being less of a driver’s car than, say, a Porsche 911, it seems harsh to say the same thing this time around. This is a convertible, after all, and the less frenetic dynamic make-up of the Aston Martin actually suits the role of a drop-top rather well. 

Removing the roof from the coupé has reduced the chassis’ torsional rigidity by 18 percent, but while you can feel it wobble ever so slightly over the worst road surfaces, the coupé’s core driving characteristics are still there.

The Roadster lacks sharpness, but it's still fun

This is a fundamentally well balanced sports car, albeit not the sharpest drive in the class. 

Unsurprisingly, then, the roadster is a car that is better at controlling body movements than absorbing lumps and potholes, but it is comfortable enough for long-distance journeys.

The beefy qualities of the coupé’s controls are still present and correct. The clutch is heavy and the gearshift hefty, with a long, occasionally obstructive throw. The steering is weighty and, at 3.1 turns lock to lock,  relatively slow. But don’t mistake the steering’s heft for feel; it’s linearly responsive, but there’s less fluidity to it than there is in the coupé. 

The roadster’s handling stance backs up the beef that its controls suggest it will have. This is not an agile, pointy sports car.

Instead of it being lively and adjustable in corners, the roadster feels solid and stable. It takes quite a turn of the wheel before it settles into a turn, but once on line it holds on staunchly and resolutely before gently and controllably nudging into understeer.

In the dry, it takes serious provocation to unsettle the roadster from here. In the wet its line can more easily be adjusted on the throttle and it oversteers controllably, but the stiffer springs stop it from gripping so tenaciously in the first place. 


Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin asks almost £100,000 for a V8 Vantage Roadster even in its most basic, manual trim. Thus it is far from good value, especially next to Jaguar ’s cheaper F-Type.

It gets worse when you take a look at the Aston's options list. Inclusions aren't limited to the usual array of customisation options, but feature equipment that's usually standard on a car half the price: cruise control, Bluetooth, heated seats and, incredibly, a wind deflector are all bits you'll need to dig deep for.

The appeal of the brand means buyers will pay plenty for a new Aston

Given the huge scope for buyer making their Aston 'their own', and the prevalence of kit that ought to be standard, that eye-watering list price could easily spill into six figures if you are tempted by the options list.

Yet to look at, to be seen in and to drive, we can understand that for some the justification will be easy.

The Vantage produces a hefty 296g/km of CO2 and, in our experience, averages just 17.5mpg, but it will hold its value like nothing else in this class. That's partly thanks to rarity but also because Astons will always be a rarer sight than most of its rivals, especially the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche 911 Cabriolet and Audi R8 Spyder.


Four star Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

With the Aston Martin Vantage coupé, Aston Martin at a stroke released the fastest-selling car it has ever made, and the introduction of the roadster did nothing to dilute the Aston Martin Vantage appeal.

If anything, the driving characteristics of the car are even more suited to the soft-top than they are to the coupé: it’s comfortable to sit in, it makes one of the finest engine noises on the planet, and we’ve yet to find a soul who thinks it’s anything other than gorgeous to look at. 

Pricey, but undeniably beautiful

At almost £100,000, though, this is a hugely expensive car, especially given the relative modesty of its performance, and the fact that it can easily represent a six-figure invoice if you choose to dip into the options list.

But if there are question marks over its outright pace and its focus as a driver’s car, it remains very assured and there is absolutely no denying its desirability.

Which, right now, makes it the best car Aston Martin produces

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster 2006-2018 First drives