Aston Martin Vantage Roadster review: brutal convertible joy for the road
Join us for a ride in the burly British convertible
The Aston Martin Vantage has impressed since it went on sale back in 2018 – it showed that the British brand could bring something unique to the sports car game. It felt by turns luxurious and brutal – it was loud, fast and worked really, really well as a road car.
Sure, it hasn't set the sales charts alight – probably because everyone ends up buying a 911 – but now Aston's lopped the roof off its V8 sports car, and it feels as if the Vantage has finally found its ideal form. Watch my review below if you want to hear it in action, or read on for slightly quieter thoughts.
From the moment you slump into the Vantage Roadster's preposterously exquisite seats, you feel as if you're in a proper Aston. You could smell the rich dark blue leather in our US-spec car from a couple of metres away, and it welcomes you into a cabin that oozes quality, if not simplicity. But you sort of forget about the mess of buttons on the centre console as soon as you hit the one that says 'engine start'.
The Vantage Roadster fires up with a racket that would make a NASCAR pitcrew jump a foot in the air. With the roof down you get to enjoy everything that made the hardtop special, but with the volume turned up a lot.
You can almost smell the cow. The infotainment/central vent stack looks a bit higgledy-piggledy though
As soon as you prod the 'D' button to put the Vantage into gear and set off, you're struck by how aggressive the throttle mapping is – I accidentally 'Mustanged' out of a few gravelly laybys on a gentle, almost-idle throttle. The Vantage Roadster sets out its stall early on – it's a brute, and it begs you to stick your foot down and send it down the road.
So you do. And then you soil yourself laughing at the upshift cracks. Every tug of the right-hand gearshift paddle rewards you with the crispest (and loudest) blat this side of a military re-enactment. In a world where cars are slowly being muted by emissions regulations, it seems Aston Martin has found a way to keep the party going long into the night.
This is Yellow Tang – a £3,295 colour
Approach a bend with the powertrain in Sport Plus and you're greeted by a volley of shots as you back off the throttle before leaning hard on the just-so and slightly soft brake pedal. The softness at the top of the travel is far from disconcerting, however – it tells you exactly how to modulate the brakes, and within a few bends you've gelled with the Vantage Roadster's main controls and stop thinking about the conscious act of driving.
Turn in isn't razor-sharp, and the steering isn't as ridiculously quick as, say, in a Ferrari Portofino, but you get a fair sense of how much you can lean on the front tyres. Mid corner you feel the suspension settle quickly, and it soaks up bumps without sending you off-line like an R8 would in its racier settings. You can change the suspension's firmness separately from the drivetrain's aggression using two buttons on the steering wheel. This means you can keep it loud and fast without having to put the suspension in track mode – a good thing.
It's not me, but he's having a good day
Then you progressively squeeze the throttle out of the bend, with a tiny and surprisingly delicate movement from the back tyres, all telegraphed surprisingly well through the thickly padded seats. And then it's back to a world of noise – roaring and banging your way up the road. It's easy to find a rhythm in this car, and I wouldn't be surprised if owners find themselves travelling dozens of miles out of their way, mesmerised by noise and speed.
Speaking of speed, the Vantage Roadster's 510hp feels a lot faster than it sounds, and you sense the 3.8-second 0-62mph needs a seriously warm day and properly warmed tyres – because this thing struggles to get the power down cleanly until third or sometimes even fourth gears. It's a lot of fun trying though.
If you're not a fan of the modern Vantage grille, you can get a more traditional horizontally slatted one
The Roadster's a surprisingly supple car, and it just feels as if it's been developed to excel on the road. It has no interest in giving you a halfway house of jiggly track-biased road-going pain. It's a sports car for the road. And it's a sodding great one, which could give a smile to even the most dour of dullards.
Downsides? Well, the cabin is quite noisy with the roof down when you're at 70mph. You'll want to put it up for motorway stints. It goes up and down in about seven seconds, which is seriously quick. If you're 6'3" like me, your head will take a bit of a blasting from the wind, and you'll end up wishing the seats went a half-inch lower.
Niggles aside, this is one of the best places to be in the sports car world
The cabin, as mentioned, feels lovely, if a tad undesigned – the infotainment screen looks a bit of an afterthought.
But otherwise, the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster brings a ray of pure joy to anyone after a laugh-a-minute convertible sports car for the road. It's a welcome shot of politically incorrect amusement in a sports car market that's slowly being sanitised. And you'd have to be seriously committed to hardtop life to pick the regular Vantage over its roofless sister. It's one of our favourite cars of 2020.
Stats and stuff
The Aston Martin Vantage Roadster costs £126,950 before options. This US-spec car was £159,750. There's a screenshot of the options fitted to this car if you scroll down a bit.
It'll get from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and go on to 190mph. It's powered by a 510hp, 685Nm AMG-sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, which is loud.
It supposedly gets 24.4mpg, but you honestly won't care.