The odds are high you’ll never be a globetrotting superagent, capable of thwarting ne’er-do-wells and evil villains, but that shouldn’t prevent you from feeling like one—especially behind the wheel. Aston Martin will forever be entwined with James Bond—and for good reason. Shared traits among the British supercar manufacturer and the world’s preeminent spy include acute attention to detail, dashing good looks, the ability to make an entrance, and astonishing performance. The latest salvo from Gaydon, England, is the bombastic 2020 DBS Superleggera Volante, a fiery convertible boasting 715 horsepower that ticks all the right hallmarks of an Aston befitting Mr. Bond.
While hidden guns, rockets, and ejector seats don’t come standard, scorching firepower is present in the form of a twin-turbo 5.2-liter V-12, built by Aston itself (as compared to the Mercedes-AMG-sourced twin-turbo V-8 that propels the lesser DB11, upon which the DBS is based). The lads have worked wonders with the tune; 715 galloping steeds—and the resulting 664 lb-ft of torque—bestow white-knuckle, pupil-dilating speeds.
The Volante’s peak grunt happens low in the revs, giving you maximum oomph at a mere 1800 RPM. Keep your foot buried, be it to gap away from the baddies or simply because of the addictive rush of acceleration, and the Volante will carry on to a top speed of 211 mph, the same as its hard-topped coupe brethren.
We tested the Superleggera—Italian for “super light, ”and a misnomer for this 2.2-ton car—on the twisty mountain roads of the Tarragona region of Spain, amidst a particularly scorching summer week that saw the countryside alight in wildfires. With plumes of smoke billowing in the distance and fire-fighting helicopters and planes buzzing overhead, the frantic and ominous backdrop felt eerily ripped from a Bond film. Spain’s sinuous and silky asphalt wound us away from disaster and gave ample opportunity to sample the Volante’s various driving modes.
For sedate cruising, GT is beyond adequate, settling down the beefy exhaust notes, softening the suspension, and quickly upshifting to get to more economical gears. Then there’s Sport Plus, which stiffens the suspension so you feel each and every pebble on the road, turning the barking exhaust up to 11 and enhancing the throttle mapping. It’s a bit extreme. But the middle option, Sport, proved to be the ideal medium. It keeps everything under the bonnet punchy and the chassis tidy, as well as maintaining composure through the esses—without any teeth chattering.
An eight-speed automatic transmission gets the power down smoothly and is dutifully compliant under any manual engagement. Shifts are snappy and crisp. You’re never waiting for the Volante to catch up. The roof adds an additional 220 pounds (for the roof motors and mechanisms). That weight and largess doesn’t show in the acceleration, though. It goes zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds—a mere 0.2 seconds slower than the coupe. Blurring the Andalusian mountainside is exceedingly fun, but only when you know you’ll be able to slow this speeding missile. Ginormous carbon-ceramic stoppers halt forward momentum, sans shudder or drama, even mid-corner.
Dropping the top allows the wind to pummel your hair—though Bond would emerge with nary a stray strand—and that sensation, combined with better acoustics, heightens driving excitement. There’s a backseat that can fit no actual human beings but would be more than spacious for luggage. Each inch of an Aston is handcrafted, and the interior has nice flourishes that give it a luxurious feel, despite more than a few of the components and pieces being sourced from Mercedes-Benz.
From its perch atop the Aston Martin range, the DBS Superleggera Volante is a handsome, dynamically-minded stunner, with a range-topping sticker price that starts at $335,000. Whether employed during a covert operation or to devour the idyllic Spanish countryside, the deserved smirk of the driver will be the same.