2006 Aston Martin DB9 Volante

Charlie Magee
2006 Aston Martin DB9 Volante
Interior View Engine Starter Button

In a Chevrolet Cobalt or a Honda Civic, such things might matter, but in a DB9, they are quickly overwhelmed by the car's grace and grandeur. On the road, the Volante is less aggressive than the coupe, which tries to fishtail out of every tight corner. The topless DB9 is a little heavier and not quite as stiff structurally as the fixed-head version, which ensures a more compliant ride. But the dialogue between the front and rear suspension is occasionally blurred. You experience some cowl shake and some instability on roads that are not flat and straight. The steering response has been toned down from razor-sharp to superquick, and, as a result, the open-air Aston is no longer an oversized sports car but a more predictable and softer GT-yet still mighty fast cross-country. The brakes aren't as compelling as the coupe's-or a 911's-but they're still strong.

If you want to cover long distances effortlessly at the kind of speeds only Germany still tolerates, the Volante will answer. The 5.9-liter V-12 engine delivers 450 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, so you certainly don't need to depend on sky-high revs and frequent gear-changes. The six-speed manu-matic transmission with paddle-shift actuation cuts the generous twist action into big slices that overlap like the layers of a stacked club sandwich.

The Volante will thunder from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, the Bridgestones intermittently yowling for grip. If you need to, it will reach a top speed of 165 mph, which is a good 21 mph less than the coupe's top speed, presumably so the convertible top doesn't take off. More in line with the car's character, however, is to swap the rock sound track for a classical one, staying in the flat upper reaches of the torque mountain. You can even resort to automatic mode by pushing the D button on the dashboard, without sacrificing much urge. Driven hard, we recorded sub-10-mpg fuel economy, somewhat below the official combined 17-mpg figure.

Overhead Interior View

The Volante strikes a compelling balance between perfection and emotion, as it should for more than $173,000. At the end of a long, hot day, tanned from the pitiless summer sunshine, it was almost impossible for us not to succumb to the many charms of the fabric-top English beauty. The DB9 Volante is almost the perfect Hollywood car-sporty enough for high-speed runs up Mulholland Drive or over Angeles Crest Highway and stylish enough to stand out on Rodeo Drive without looking pretentious or gaudy. That takes class.

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