2009 Aston Martin DB9 Volante

If the $199,200 base price doesn't give it away, let me be the first to say this is quite a special car. There are faster cars, there are more practical cars, and there are more luxurious cars, but the Aston Martin DB9 is unique in the market.

All of its materials are what they look like: what looks like leather IS leather (there's not just a small square of leather right where your butt hits the seat; the entire seat is covered in leather). The wood is genuine walnut, and there's very little plastic in the cabin. Everything feels luxurious but also durable enough to be used every day if one is so inclined.

The V-12 is magnificent and the Touchtronic transmission is surprisingly good. I had the good fortune to drive a DB9 coupe with the six-speed manual in Los Angeles earlier this year, but I found it a bit annoying to drive in the city. The Touchtronic certainly makes the car easier to drive in traffic, but I wish the means of engaging P/N/R/D was better looking than the cheesy plastic buttons in the dash. Sure, you forget all about it once you start driving, but it doesn't look as special as the rest of the car.

I'm thrilled Aston is using a soft top. Unfortunately, the folding top kills some of the DB9's gorgeous looks from the rear, but it really lets the V-12's voice be heard. It also kills rearward visibility when the top is up, but things are surprisingly quiet inside.

We're very fortunate to have a car like this in our fleet. It's a rare occurrence to see an Aston on the road, which makes driving one all the more special.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

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