Test Driving Aston Martin’s Latest Convertible, the Vantage Roadster
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “You are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 when you attend outdoor activities.” By my estimation, driving a sports car with an open top counts as an outdoor activity. And with the arrival of an open-top version of Aston Martin’s next-generation Vantage—called the Roadster—this British brand’s ripping super-coupe is healthier than ever. A few weeks back, one landed here in Austin, TX, wearing Spirit Silver paint and a price tag of $194,000 (optioned up from a $147,000 base.)
If that sticker causes you breathing problems, remember that’s similar to what you’d spend on a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. We’re in fairly rarefied air here. And once you’ve taken the top down—an exercise which takes less than seven seconds, the fastest on the market, Aston claims—you experience a lot of rarified air.
Mash the throttle in Sport+ mode, and the 4-liter twin-turbo V8 is pushed to its 7,700-rpm redline, close to which you can hear the exhaust’s pop and crackle slap against the pile foundations of an elevated overpass. The engine, like much of this car’s powertrain and tech, is borrowed from Mercedes-AMG, tailored and tuned to 503 horsepower. Out in the boondocks, it’s clear that the pairing works—and proves even more entertaining in open air. Seated low in the cockpit, you grip the squared-off wheel tighter and tighter with every blind turn, and the chassis—slightly shorter than a 911’s—seems to shrink around you.
After that workout, when you’re catching a breath at a traffic light, a guy walking across the crosswalk glances and gives a thumbs-up, no eye contact needed. He knows what it is. Call it the Aston cachet. That said, the Roadster’s not perfect. Its eight-inch touchscreen seems reverse-engineered into the instrument panel rather than part of it. The infotainment system has some Bluetooth hiccups. But, well, once you look at the thing, let alone drive it, you get over those pretty easy. It’s the healthy thing to do.