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2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante First Drive: More Than the Sum of Its (Very Pretty) Parts

Top-down, sun-up is a winning formula in Aston's newest convertible

2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante front
  • The Volante is the convertible version of the DB12 coupe.
  • Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 makes 671 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.
  • There's also a much improved cabin that matches the car's stylish exterior.

Living in Los Angeles demands certain sacrifices. There's the traffic, the cost of living and, of course, the long lines at Erewhon and Whole Foods on a Friday night. So what keeps me here? Well, there's the weather. And the opportunity to drive cars that make the most of that weather, such as the new Aston Martin DB12 Volante, a vehicle that was made to make the most of the California sunshine.

What is a Volante?

The DB12 Volante is the followup to the DB12 coupe that was redesigned last year and it gets all of the same upgrades, along with the ability to drop its fabric top at the push of a button. The DB12 is four-seat, two-door grand tourer that slots in above the smaller and sportier Vantage in Aston Martin's lineup.

Perhaps even more so than the coupe, the DB12 Volante is an absolute stunner. My test car wears a Caribbean Blue Pearl paint that is so vivid, I had some trouble taking photos of the convertible for posterity because my phone kept thinking it was the sky and modifying the color after each snap. The car's lines, angles and stance are all perfect to me. The only thing I'd change is to maybe add some more expressiveness to the rear taillights, but that's the most minor of quibbles. I could walk up to this car in a garage every day and behold it anew.

2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante profile top down

Impetus comes from a Mercedes-AMG-sourced twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with all of that power being sent to the rear wheels. This is the same engine found in the DB12's predecessor, the aptly named DB11, but it has been reworked to produce more power: 671 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. That's enough to sling the Volante from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds and up to a top speed of 202 mph, matching that of the coupe. Thankfully that speed can only be achieved with the top up, lest you lose all the hairs atop your head (and maybe your eyebrows too).

Speaking of the top, that fabric roof can be raised and lowered at speeds under 31 mph, and it's made of eight layers of "acoustically enhanced" insulation. You might be wondering how well the roof works at keeping noise and wind out of the cabin, but I couldn't tell you. My drive day was so beautiful it seemed a shame to waste it under cover, and with the top down, you get better access to that addictive engine note. Aston Martin's engines — even one built by Mercedes — have an exhaust sound all their own. You'll want to hear it as much as possible.

Aston Martin has also done significant work to the DB12's suspension and frame, to strengthen it so that the lack of roof doesn't have a negative impact on the Volante's stability. An engine cross brace, stronger mounting points for the suspension attachments, and structural improvements result in an increase of torsional stiffness by 5% over the previous DB11 Volante. Adaptive dampers sit at each corner with increased bandwidth to ensure that the ride remains comfortable when desired or stiffen up when the roads twist.

2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear

Going on tour

Driving a very expensive convertible north on California's Pacific Coast Highway with sun on your face, ocean to your left and inviting canyon roads to your right all feels like a Hollywood cliche — and maybe it is. But that doesn't make it any less wonderful.

Top down, exhaust valves open, the Aston's soundtrack is prepared. Tip in the accelerator and the engine leaps up immediately to meet your inputs; this V8 loves to rev and it gets up into its powerband quick as you like and stays there.

In the smaller Vantage, this V8 engine can feel a bit overeager at times and the rear of the car loves to break away if you're too generous with the throttle. But in the DB12 Volante, the power delivery feels smoother and easier to modulate, though if you want to, there's plenty of kick to push your chest back into the very comfortable and supportive front seats.

As for handling, even with the adaptive suspension, the Volante weighs nearly 4,000 pounds. This creates a battle with physics and grip that manifests in some slight understeer when trying to get the nose to turn in hard. You end up turning to trailbraking because getting the car to slow in a controlled manner under harder braking shifts a lot of the Volante's weight out over the nose.

But those feelings are felt only at the edge of the Volante's capabilities; when you're driving it at anything less than full bore, its competence would verge on boring until the engine note snaps you back into attention. Saying the Volante is more of a grand tourer than a true sports car isn't a demerit — it's a nod to its purpose.

2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante interior

Increasing screen time

The dirty not-so-secret about Aston Martins for the past decade or so has been the truly awful infotainment experience. Much like the engine, the bones of the operating system were lifted from Mercedes, but it wasn't the new system (MBUX), it was the old system. Actually, make that the old-old system.

That's all changed now; there's brand-new software and a much larger screen. I had some time to dive into the system during the drive, and it is much more modern and robust with a menu structure that makes sense and homescreen customizations that bring the information you want closer to the surface. It's also got an absolutely stellar Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system, the one thing I did test before flipping the roof down.

The Volante's interior design feels just as beautiful and intentional as its exterior. It's a delightful cabin to park yourself in for the long haul. And it's refreshing to have a multimedia experience that doesn't feel like it matches the very expensive price tags of these cars — in this case, an as-tested price of $339,500.

2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante rear

Just leave me here

The DB12 Volante's greatest feature is that it pulls you into the joy of the moment. We don't have an official test rating for this vehicle just yet, but to me, the car itself feels like a 9 out of 10. And on a day where the conditions of car, road and joy can triangulate in this manner, it feels like double that. I want to drive this one forever.

2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante wheel