Drophead or soft-top, convertible or cabriolet — while the labels may differ, they are used to describe almost every open-top car in history, from any marque. Yet there is one notable exception to the rule — Volante — a name that can only be attributed to convertible cars bearing the iconic Aston Martin winged badge. Since the badge’s first public appearance at the 1965 London Motor Show, the Volante name has been a permanent fixture in Aston Martin’s history with a rich heritage than spans a range of models and 52 years of production.
Named after the Italian for “flying”, Volante is a very appropriate label, considering that the first car to earn
the name sported a race-proven all-alloy, twin-cam straight-six 4.0-litre powerplant, which boasted 282bhp at 5,500rpm. However, the name wasn’t inspired by a high-speed blast of power around the Tuscan hills — the reality is much closer to the marque’s home. It was the brainchild of the then Sales Administrator and Aston Martin doyen Kent Monk, who christened the new convertible ahead of its 1965 London debut.
Although the name Volante suggested an exotic new age for the car maker, open-top cars had, in fact, been
the fundamental part of the business since the name “Aston Martin” was born in 1914.
It wasn’t until 1947 that the marque was acquired by industrialist David Brown, marking the dawn of the famous DB-era cars. It was under Brown’s direction that the open-top 2-Litre Sports (retrospectively named the DB1), DB2 Drophead Coupe, DB4 and DB5 Convertible came to fruition, giving the brand a reputation as a producer of high-performance, open-top, luxury touring cars. Three years after the launch of the DB5, the Volante name was born, giving convertible Aston Martins of the era an instantly recognisable brand.
The Volante name has a rich heritage and spans a range of models and 52 years of production
The new Aston Martin DB11 Volante demonstrates just how far the Volante name has come since the heady days of the 1960s. The culmination of more than 100 years of open-top driving heritage, the DB11 Volante is a stunning piece of automotive design, as well as a true driver’s car. Available through all Aston Martin dealerships around the world in the spring of 2018, the DB11 Volante is a worthy successor to the elegant DB9 Volante.
Beneath that sculpted clamshell bonnet is a new 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, designed to give the DB11 Volante a more sporting character. Sending 503bhp to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF gearbox, the V8 delivers rapid acceleration and instant, usable power at any speed. Light and compact, the V8 has empowered Aston Martin’s engineers to achieve spectacular dynamics out of the Volante body.
Opening the roof also lifts the lid on this magnificent power plant, ensuring that blue-sky driving is as thrilling as ever. From the iconic grille through to the sculpted shoulder line and innovative Aeroblade rear spoiler, the subtraction of a fixed roof draws the car back to the original Volante philosophy of flight — not only for those ensconced in the cabin, but also for flying the flag for a proud history of British open-top sports tourers.
The DB11 Volante is a worthy bearer of the name, a car that fuses finely tuned lines with the latest technology in its quest to be the greatest iteration of open-topped DB motoring ever made. As well as accommodating all the key design features from the award-winning DB11, Aston Martin’s design team has ensured the Volante is as functional as it is beautiful, with a fast-operating roof that transforms the character of the car in seconds.
The DB11 Volante's cabin is a showcase for craftsmanship, form and materials innovation
Inside, the cabin is a showcase for craftsmanship, form and materials innovation. Key visual elements include the windscreen surround and tonneau finisher, a bold feature that gives muscular shape to the DB11 Volante’s shoulder line, especially when the hood is retracted flush into the rear deck. The new optional front seat back veneers bring another layer of visual richness, allowing the centre console fascia material to be carried through to the rear of the cabin. This handcrafted component is finished in a choice of open pore woods, carbon and piano black, adding a natural tactility to go with the finely stitched leather upholstery.
An open car is an engineering challenge, both in terms of form and performance. Thanks to a compact new roof mechanism, the DB11’s elegant silhouette is retained whether the roof is up or down, with a detail line running unbroken from grille through to rear deck. The roof is acoustically lined with eight layers for supreme refinement, yet thanks to masterful engineering and packaging, it folds neatly and discreetly away in just 16 seconds.
With the DB11 Volante, the experience of open-topped driving has entered a new era
The Volante doesn’t need the coupe’s integral C-duct thanks to the aerodynamically sculpted form of the fabric roof, although the DB11’s signature Aeroblade — automatically deployed when required — is still integrated into the rear deck. The DB11’s first forged Y-spoke alloy wheels, with a choice of three diamond turned finishes, help balance the curves and creases of the bodywork.
The DB11 is the consummate grand tourer. With the roof up and GT mode engaged, the Volante’s exceptional ride quality allows for a hushed high-speed cruise. Deploy the roof (at speeds of up to 31mph) and the Twin-Turbo V8 becomes all the more sonorous, its sharp growl delivered direct to the ear (if it’s not being muted by the quiet start exhaust feature option, for slipping away unobtrusively). With throttle and gearbox response sharpened up in Sport Plus mode, the Aston Martin DB11 Volante is transformed into a supremely capable open sports car, taut and poised with deliciously direct steering.
With DB11 Volante, the experience of open-topped driving has entered a new era, providing the visceral connection between road, machine and surroundings that makes every Aston Martin Volante so special.