2009 Aston Martin DBS Volante: Too Fast For America

You learn quickly the vernacular of the $286,500 2009 Aston Martin DBS Volante.

First, you don’t call the Volante a convertible--it’s a Volante, a cloth-top car that’s reasonably quiet when shut, and because it has a soft lid, one with some useful trunk space that an erstwhile hardtop would’ve vaporized. (Also this is a nominal 2+2, and while not even children would find the backseat space viable there’s room enough in this car for overnight luggage which isn’t the case with many a super-sports GT.)

Second, though it’s equipped with a manual-automatic Touchtronic gearbox (an ordinary six-speed manual is also available), unless you’re stuck in traffic it’s far more pleasurably driven as a paddle shift manual than, say, Audi’s S-tronic, as the shifts are actually smoother when manually called for than in automatic mode. This is because they happen more quickly when under the driver’s control and because you’ve shifted, rather than allowed a computer algorithm to decide when to change gears, you can precisely anticipate when that instant will arrive when the tremendous muscle of the car’s 6.0-liter, 510-hp V-12 will pause, the bootheel of g-forces on your chest will lift for half a heartbeat, and then you’re mashed back into the driver’s seat, resuming the boost-phase mode of the DBS’s haul toward a nearly 200-mph top speed.

Third, should you happen to want to drive the DBS like a sane person, that is to say, calmly and coolly and within the constraints of suburban and even rural constabulary mores—you can do so, even as the V-12 under the hood and the metallic paddles that control the gearbox pretty much beg you to quit forcing the DBS to crawl around town on errands and instead mash the gas and let the car realize its full potential.

Fourth, I've driven the V8 Vantage, which is also extraordinary, and also exceptionally fast. But the DBS is yet more car--the growl is laced with a menace, an even stronger purity of purpose. Its potential simply cannot be realized on any highway, state or Federal, in the United States.

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