Noise Maker: Aston Martin’s new Vantage Roadster
You felt it, right? That frisson of chill in the air, the overnight temps nudging down to the low ’60s, the drop in debilitating humidity. It can mean only one thing: fall in Florida.
It also means car lovers’ thoughts once again begin bubbling up with images of sporty, sexy, drop-top convertibles. Cool wind in the air, warm sun on the face, the faint aroma of diesel fumes wafting up from that 18-wheeler in front.
To kick off droptop season with a bang, I’m clutching the keys to Aston Martin’s spine-tingling new Vantage Roadster: $147,000 worth of rolling thunder that packs more thrills than a day at Disney.
There’s been a coupe version of the Vantage around for a few years now, so it was natural that a drop-top Roadster would follow. And while I don’t think the convertible is quite as pretty as the hardtop, it’s still a feast for the peepers.
Just gaze at the thing — especially in our tester’s retina-searing shade Aston calls Yellow Tang. That mile-wide hood, the ski-slope windshield, those massive fenders at each corner. It has the faintly menacing stance of an angry pitbull.
As a convertible, it’s a dream. Toggle a switch and the heavily insulated cloth top lowers in a staggeringly rapid seven seconds — and at speeds up to 30mph, so no worries about being caught halfway through lowering the roof when red light turns to green.
But what sets the Aston apart from other luxury roadsters out there — Porsche 911 included — is what’s under the hood.
Here there’s a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 nuclear reactor — sourced from the engine wizards at Mercedes-AMG — that cranks out a stupendous 503-horsepower and 505 lb-ft of torque. Hook it up to an eight-speed ZF automatic and off the line it can catapult itself to 60mph in just 3.5 seconds.
Yes, there are plenty of mini-supercars that can reach 60mph in the same time. But what sets the Aston apart is the car’s thunderous, manic, Russell-Crowe-in-full-meltdown soundtrack that accompanies the torrid acceleration.
Yes, I know it’s mildly obnoxious, anti-social, even call-the-cops intrusive. But the sound of the Aston as its big V8 exhales through its quartet of tailpipes is one of life’s wonders.
As you’d imagine, it takes laps on a racetrack to discover the outer limits of the Aston’s handling. But on the twistiest ribbons of Florida blacktop — we’re talking freeway on-ramps — the Vantage carves curves like it’s running on rails.
It’s not light and nimble like a new 911 — tipping the scales at almost 4,000 pounds, the Aston is almost in need of a WeightWatchers program. But I secretly loved the feeling of heft and substance.
As for that $147,000 sticker, three words: Beware the options. Our tester was slathered with a staggering $53,000 worth of extras. Like $5,000 for the special paint, $10,600 for the carbon fiber trim, $3,100 for the carbon hood vents. All in, with destination, the total came to $203,886.
Just keep it simple, skip the bulk of the options, and just revel in that amazing soundtrack. Think of it as ad-Vantage Aston.