There’s something about listening to music when you’re in a car. Chris Rea must have made a fortune out of ‘Driving Home for Christmas’; ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams can make any journey enjoyable and, for any parents of young’uns, Monkey Music is a winner for quieting the little buggers.
Me? I’ve rediscovered the Style Council.
Why? Because of an Aston Martin DB11 Volante.
It was a case of word association. Aston Martin drop-top = thoughts of warm sunny weather = long hot summer. Bingo. My dad was a massive fan of the Style Council and I was brought-up with their music reverberating around the house. ‘Shout to the Top’ was their big hit, but I loved ‘Long Hot Summer.’
And so it was one early morning, I set off in the new DB11 Volante, hood down and The Best of Style Council rousing the neighbourhood.
Mind you, they were up already, because the noise from the V8 engine’s exhausts when you press the starter button is better than any alarm clock. It scatters pigeons and frightens cats.
The Mercedes-AMG-sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 503bhp engine is one of the highlights of this car. Currently there’s no V12, which can be chosen for the DB11 coupé, but there’ll be one along eventually.
The cabin is a wonderful place to soak up the miles. This is Grand Touring in the classic GT mould
Needless to say that performance is excellent and effortless. Zero to 60mph takes a shade over four seconds; top speed is a largely irrelevant 187mph. Power goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. As for economy, go easily and allow the engine to cleverly shut down some of its cylinders as you amble along, and you’ll manage something like 28mpg. Unleash the horses and that figure will drop to low 20s or even top teens if you’re being particularly keen.
Another surprise is the quality of ride. You can choose what sort of suspension settings you fancy but ‘normal’ is perfect for anyone who is, well normal. The other settings provide what is described as sporty characteristics. We’d describe is as compromising the ride.
Something you do need to get used to is the sheer size of the thing. This is a wide car but, once you are familiar with the dimensions, the DB11 Volante is actually quite easy to punt around town. There’s no denying however that it is most at home on fast, sweeping roads.
In terms of space, the Aston Martin DB11 is a 2+2 but, although you can get two child seats to fit, the rear seats are best used as somewhere to chuck your coat. You wouldn’t want to offer a couple of mates a lift… well, not unless they were the local Hobbits. In terms of boot space, there’s room for two or three soft bags which should be enough for a couple who fancy a blast to the Cote d'Azur for a week’s touring.
Up front, the cabin is a wonderful place in which to soak up the miles. This is Grand Touring in the classic GT mould. It’s fully kitted out with goodies including a load of hi tech, sat nav and a cracking audio system.
This Aston Martin DB11 Volante is one of the most stunning cars to look at, ride in and drive
Of course, the main reason to splash out £159,900 is to enjoy roof down motoring in what is arguably one of the most stylish cars around. It looks great with the roof up; it looks wonderful with it stowed in the boot. Aston Martin has resisted the temptation to use a folding metal roof and have stuck with canvas. It works well. The roof is lighter and certainly insulates the occupants from noise and rain. Press a button and it vanishes in 14 seconds. If there’s a sudden shower, don’t panic because the roof will raise in about 16 seconds and you can keep moving at speeds up to 31mph.
Raise the side windows and there’s a remarkable lack of wind buffeting. You can also fit a wind deflector behind the front seats which improves things even further. It certainly isn’t wind the in hair, flies in the teeth motoring; it’s as refined as you’ve hope for from the great British marque.
Overall, this Aston Martin DB11 Volante is one of the most stunning cars to look at, ride in and drive. It’s hugely desirable, beautifully engineered and, thanks to a Mercedes powerplant, should be reliable. If you are looking for a drop-top sports car which excels as a long-distance cruiser but also copes with day-to-day humdrum journeys, you will love it.
Turn up the volume, crank the bass to maximum, and let Paul Weller ‘Shout From The Top’. (Or don’t, if you’re looking to pull.)
For more info, see Aston Martin