I’m always interested in what a car’s name means. Look up “volante” in the dictionary, and depending on what language it’s from, you’ll get a few choices, including “flying,” “steering wheel,” and even, “moving with light rapidity.” However, when you couple “volante” with “Aston Martin Vanquish”, all definitions lead to “pure joy on the road.”
Well, first, there’s the look of this car. Molded and sculpted to look at once slippery and aggressive, sleek and powerful, the body is a wonder of marriage—“We are pleased to announce the betrothal of Lady Carbon and Lord Fiber.” Second, there’s the engine bay, chock full of 565 mighty horses pumping from twelve cylinders, accompanied by 457 foot-pounds of torque. Third, there’s the sport mode button on the steering wheel (“my” car had the “One-77 color-keyed steering wheel,” a slick $1,595 option) that added to the wonderful sonata produced by the exuberant V-12 by allowing the exhaust note to be broadcast forth, mostly unmuffled, as it joined the sounds of life. (More than once, people on the street or in nearby cars asked, in wonderment, “What is that car?” followed by “It sounds amazing!”) I’ve driven many “cars of note” before, but never did they elicit such admiration and happy inquiry as did the Vanquish.
From whence did this car spring? Well, much of its DNA is from the vaunted One-77, which Aston Martin produced in a four-year very limited production run (only 77 copies) following its debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. The One-77’s extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber foreshadowed today’s Vanquish. The Vanquish is a high-tech marvel, with an aluminum frame and a fully carbon-fiber body, a noble successor to the highly-acclaimed Aston Martin DBS. My white Vanquish included the “exterior carbon fiber pack” (“That will be $4,785, please.”) Offsetting the “Morning Frost White” paint with several high-sheen black carbon fiber bits, like front splitter, rear diffuser, mirror caps and door handles, really added to the car’s elegant/aggressive look. Form certainly does follow function here.
The supple leather abounds in the cockpit. If something is not carbon fiber, it most likely is a hide. With a rumored 1,000,000 hand- stitches (Baltic blue leather with white stitching in my Vanquish), the interior of the car is an exquisite cocoon. Did the English invent leather? I am not sure, but the seating and other surfaces, when topped off with an elegant ceiling underside the convertible top make for a luxurious cabin when al fresco isn’t called for. For me, however, top-down driving is de rigueur for the Volante for one can summon forth the god of warmth (both the car’s heater and the heated seats) to enjoy the sights, fragrances and sounds of en plein air motoring regardless of how frigid the weather.
Weighing in at just over 4,000 pounds, this drop-top diva can sing — and run—with the best of them. The six-speed automatic transmission can work in fully-automatic, auto-sport and paddle-shift modes and seamlessly changes the gears, up to a top gear that produces about 70MPH at only 2,000RPM, keeping the highway sounds to a minimum. Thanks for a highly-padded top (with layers that include rubber for noise reduction, a Thinsulte layer for heat retention and a Rokona headliner for luxury) that makes the car feel like a hardtop when it’s closed up, it’s definitely a gentleman’s car. In contrast to some others, which can motivate in the same stratosphere—and that’s an altitude occupied by vehicles in the range of a 4.1 second 0-60MPH—you can arrive refreshed and ready for bacarrat and your shaken-not-stirred beverage.
Did I mention how Bang and Olufsen has joined the party? The B&O sound system in the Vanquish is a symphony on wheels and is “Music To Your Eyes,” as B&O puts it, in celebration of their Aston Martin partnership of a few years. One never tires of watching the tweeters rise majestically, and automatically, out of the dash when the radio is ignited, summoning forth whatever the driver has chosen as the soundtrack of the particular drive being undertaken. The Danish doctors know how to do sound, and whether one is listening to Mozart or Macklemore, Dubussy or Drake, or even my ‘60s favorites, The Sound of Feeling, the sound is clear, crisp and clean. What a great sound system—it’s a pity that it has to play second fiddle to the exhaust note of those 5,935CCs all singing their hearts out for those near and far.
Aston Martin uses the phrase “Open Air Theatre” in describing this car and never were truer words spoken as its looks, craftsmanship, drivability and sound come together so harmoniously that one can almost hear “Your car, Mr. Bond.”