2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante review: Beauty is a beast
There's no way to contextualize a car like the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante. It's a 715-horsepower convertible that costs $330,000. It's loud. It's proud. It's outlandish. It's absurd. This one's even done up like a freaking jack-o-lantern. And for all these reasons, it's fantastic.
This car is rolling sensory overload. Even before you fire up its big V12, the DBS Superleggera Volante pulls you in with its exquisite style. There are so many great details on this car, like the "Superleggera" script on the hood in untreated carbon fiber or the graceful and purposeful air vents that extend off the front wheel arches. The hips have an impressive stance, leading around to the huge rear diffuser and four big exhaust tips. Yet even though this DBS doesn't hide its performance intentions, the overall wrapper is pure elegance and refinement -- even in this eye-searing shade of orange.
The interior, by contrast, isn't so exemplary. Sure, I like the contrast stitching detail on the super-comfy and super-supportive seats, but the rest of the cockpit is just sort of... meh. There's a lot going on with the design, though I'm sure Aston Martin will happily zhuzh it up however you want if you fork over enough money. Overall, though, the materials are mostly fine, with only a few oddly plasticky buttons on the center stack. Of course, I still can't reliably get the buttons on the steering wheel to work consistently. And having to one-way toggle through drive and suspension modes is stupid -- if I'm in Sport and want to go back to the standard GT, I have to go through Sport Plus, assuming the control buttons on the steering wheel actually respond.
Infotainment duties are handled by the old Mercedes-Benz COMAND system, and it's amazing how outdated this tech already feels. But no one's buying a DBS Superleggera for its robust multimedia suite, so I can forgive the clunky interface. Besides, the screen totally washes out in the sunlight when you're driving with the top down, so who cares if it's good or bad when you can't actually see anything?
Now that the demerits are out of the way, let's talk about why you do buy a DBS Superleggera -- well, aside from its killer looks, that is. The 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 is a goddamn monster, with the headline number of 715 hp. That's complemented by 664 pound-feet of torque, resulting in a 0-to-60-mph time of about 3.5 seconds. That might not seem as ridiculously quick as the quoted power numbers would suggest, but remember that despite the Superleggera name (Italian for "superlight"), this large lad still tips the scales at 4,108 pounds.
Aston Martin called up ZF for a new eight-speed automatic transmission, one that's able to handle the V12's extra power. But even this robust, smooth-shifting gearbox can't quite cope, so Aston limits the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels in first and second gears. That partially explains why this car is slower than most of its competitors -- not that 3.5 seconds is actually slow in the grand scheme of things. But crucially, the Volante never feels like it's been neutered, even when you go hard on the throttle down a long stretch of your favorite backroad.
That's something I find myself doing all the time: Toggling over to Sport Plus (and waiting for the car to respond) and laying into the gas. The V12 opens up with one of the best engine sounds I've ever heard -- seriously, ever -- and the world rushes by at great speed. But even with 715 hp underhood, the DBS Superleggera Volante is far more of a grand tourer than a razor-sharp sports car. It's best enjoyed on a winding road with the wind in your hair; save your track days for another time.
You can set the adaptive dampers to Sport Plus, but the DBS is never stiff. You'll notice some body roll while cornering and the hefty steering could use a touch more response at turn-in. But nothing -- nothing -- beats the experience of burying your right foot into the floor and letting the Aston assault you with its speed and noise. This car truly feels unstoppable, like you could hit its 211-mph v-max and just cruise like that all day (or until you run out of gas, which definitely won't take long).
The Ferrari F8 Spider , McLaren 720S Spider and Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet are all better driver's cars, but I don't think anyone's seeking out a DBS with track days or even high-speed canyon carving in mind. If all you care about are acceleration times or cornering forces, there are far better cars to buy that cost a fraction of the DBS Superleggera Volante's $330,000 asking price.
But consider the DBS' intended purpose -- looking and sounding absolutely fabulous while cruising along the Pacific coast or, let's get dreamy, the French Riviera. This might be the one time when you can justify a car like this breathtaking Aston. And you'd have a hard time convincing me any other high-dollar, high-power convertible is a better tool for the job.