Vantage Roadster: Playing by Numbers

  • Aston Martin

  • Vantage


From the unparalleled speed it can lower its roof, and raise it, too, in record time, to its weight and sheer space, the Vantage Roadster brings a series of incredible firsts to the convertible market.

Three key numbers set the astonishing new Aston Martin Roadster apart from other convertible sports cars. None of them may sound particularly unusual - until they are put in context and unravelled on the open road. Just 6.7 seconds is needed for the ingenious Z-roof to stow away neatly behind the Vantage's seats. The fastest for any fully automatic convertible hood, the ultra-compact mechanism also squeezes down to a meagre 210mm flat, the lowest of any comparable soft-top.

This is the UK, notorious for inclement weather, so the second important number is 31mph - the maximum speed the Roadster's fabric hood can be operated when the heavens open and the roof needs to shut in a hurry.

Barrelling across Welsh mountain roads in the autumn almost certainly means both will come into play. Dodging a shower without the need to pull over completely, or even slow down to a crawl to raise the roof, allows more time to focus on the road ahead.

The new Vantage Roadster is mesmerising from every single angle. Compact, muscular across the haunches, the Vantage profile is a bold blend of sophistication and sporting purposefulness that creates maximum impact with a real sense of occasion.

Underneath the shimmering Spirit Silver paintwork, there's a good deal more going on in the new model, too. It sits on bonded and riveted aluminium chassis, with its aggressive nature complemented by a full suite of electronic wizardry, specially tweaked to match the dynamics of the car. Among them are adaptive damping, ESP calibration and a bespoke tune to the rear changes. And, rather like its sibling Coupe, the open-roof version benefits from Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Torque Vectoring and an electronic rear differential that varies the torque to each rear wheel. It's truly ingenious stuff - but probably requires a Venn diagram in order to explain it properly.

A far more enjoyable way to understand the advanced technology on board is to simply find my favourite stretch of road, then unleash the scintillating power of Aston Martin's 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The numbers here are 510PS/685Nm. Straight line performance is simply astounding. The 0-60mph dash is dispatched in 3.7 seconds - just 0.1 seconds slower than the Coupe - with the potential to reach a maximum speed of 190mph with the roof raised. Heading into a corner, each dramatic downshift on those long paddle-shifters is a pure thrill, especially driving on a wet British road during the autumn. The Roadster's raucous exhaust note ratchets up further when the tautly tailored roof is folded down. Side windows raised, the cockpit is still snug and cosy, aided in the winter by a powerful ventilation system and heated seats. Passengers sit low in a cabin relatively untouched by the flow of the wind - no need for a hat here.

Pouring the Vantage around corners becomes a balletic experience - a flamboyant pas de deux at startling speeds that could easily end up in an orchestra pit, if the Roadster wasn't so dynamically refined. I change up through the drive modes from Sport to Sport+, feeling the dynamic character of the Vantage progressively climb through the revs. This isn't the road to try the Track setting, but the breadth of ability of this astonishing new model is remarkable. The sheer pace and cornering ability of the Roadster - thanks in no small part to an exceptionally smooth, eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, encourages total driver involvement.

The car's enthusiastic nature is infectious, a total transformation from the previous model. Slipping up and down through the gears, the changes feel honed to absolute perfection - sharper than any series production Aston Martin I've ever driven before. That electronic rear diff is thinking at mind-boggling speeds to ensure maximum traction as the Roadster pulls out of another corner in second, third and then fourth.

This two-seater that is equally at home on a track day or tearing down to Le Mans on your favourite French B-road. The lowered position is perfect, with good back support for "making progress" on a spirited weekend drive, plus enough comfort to ensure the weekday commute is a joy rather than a pain. The eight-inch instrumentation screen, meanwhile, doesn't suffer in bright sunlight either, while the switchgear is beautifully integrated with the leather trim. Driver demands are operated via Aston Martin's familiar rotary input device or voice control.

The Roadster weighs just 60kg more than the low-fat Vantage Coupe, but I doubt even the keenest driving enthusiast would spot the difference. Exceptional torsional rigidity means the ride and handling qualities remain on the same parallel.

While the ducktail spoiler deflects air brilliantly and keeps the sculpted rear of the Aston Martin planted firmly on the Tarmac, it doesn't do anything to divert a trail of car spotters gathering in the rear-view mirror, camera phones pressed to their windscreens. The Roadster is that sort of machine. A blast from those sonorous exhaust pipes leaves unwanted admirers trailing in my wake. Even with the roof raises, the Vantage really sounds the part.

Lowering the fabric hood for a more visceral experience couldn't easier. From the outside the mechanism can be operated via the key fob, a reassuringly chunky item that, while a button on the centre console falls neatly to hand while driving. The Z-fold system is so swift and seamless, I don't realise it is operating until the top section is already disappearing behind me and the sun shines in. The roof doesn't impact on boot space either: there's a full 200 litres to fill, or enough to take a full-sized golf bag (plus an Aston Martin brolly stashed in the lid). Supplemented by the soundtrack of an Aston Martin V8 engine, wrapped in a bold and dynamic form that will garner attention from every quarter, the new Vantage Roadster is a sensory overload rarely enjoyed in a convertible these days, a driving experience you will want to return to time and time again.

Pricing starts from £131,500. A surprisingly affordable number for such a desirable car with supercar pace and exotic desirability. Aston Martin's most successful and biggest-selling car in history just got better.

Written by Jeremy Taylor

Published by Harwoods
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