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Review (2/2)

DBS Volante Offering the Ultimate Open Air Experience

Source: Aston Martin | Published: Tue Aug 17, 2010

(continued from the previous page)

Aston Martin's 16th convertible in 95 years, the DBS Volante draws on the marque's extensive experience in designing iconic 'Volantes' and is a 2+2 featuring two occasional rear seats, ideal for young people or extra luggage. In standard specification, the DBS has a rear-mounted six-speed manual gearbox, while an automatic six-speed 'Touchtronic' option is also available. As with the coupe, the Volante is offered with carbon ceramic brakes as standard providing exceptional stopping power. Benefitting from materials derived from the motorsport and aerospace industries, the bonnet, front wings and boot lid are made from carbon fiber all helping to reduce weight.

Although the DBS was originally conceived as a two-seater sports GT, the potential for a Volante version was always in the minds of the design team. Holding a purposeful stance, the muscular shapes and forms of the DBS have been retained exuding confidence.

Aston Martin's Quietest and Most Refined Roof System

Aston Martin's 16th convertible, learning taken from the engineering of previous soft-top cars has resulted in the DBS Volante possessing Aston Martin's quietest and most refined roof system to date. When raised, the fabric roof is insulated with a layer of Thinsulate material relieving cabin noise and protecting the inhabitants from the elements. The hydraulic pump has been cocooned in a noise and vibration enclosure reducing noise when raising and lowering the hood.

The newly choreographed hood has resulted in an opening time of only 14 seconds due to a new five-piston hydraulic pump. The roof effortlessly stows below the newly-sculpted tonneau cover which has been redesigned to enhance the muscular attributes of the DBS Volante. Housing the Roll-Over-Protection-System (ROPS) which deploys two roll bars in the event of the car rolling over, the rear humps lead your eye to the new carbon fiber deck lid which has been re-styled for the DBS Volante. Particular to the DBS, a line flows from the leading edge of the bonnet past the elegantly sloped windscreen flowing into the carbon fiber deck lid and to the rear boot 'flip'.

As with the DBS Coupe, the bonnet, front wings and boot lid are formed from carbon fiber. Preventing the weave protruding the paint finish, Aston Martin employs a patented 'surface veil' technology applying a 200 micron thick layer of epoxy glue to the carbon fiber, before the application of seven layers of paint producing a class A level of finish.

Lightweight Materials in the Interior

The interior of the DBS represents the epitome of Aston Martin's commitment to using materials honestly, without disguise or embellishment. Lightweight materials are used throughout to save weight; door pulls are made from carbon-fiber, for example, and the carpet has been woven with lighter fibers to save valuable kilograms.

The Volante features 2+2 seating as standard. The beautifully leather trimmed rear seats are ideal for younger persons or extra luggage making the DBS Volante a practical everyday sports car.

Delivered as standard with Bang & Olufsen's BeoSound DBS audio system and seamlessly integrated into the DBS Volante's bespoke interior, the system provides the driver and passengers with an unrivalled audio experience. Consisting of 13 individual speakers and Bang & Olufsen's unique Digital Signal Processing system, the system transforms the DBS Volante into an acoustically sophisticated venue, capable of conveying subtle and striking musical dynamics from every source. The BeoSound DBS has been specifically revised for the DBS Volante and senses when the roof is up or retracted and adjusts the sound stage to compensate for wind noise and change in acoustics.

The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound DBS system has been developed exclusively for Aston Martin. The system is acoustically and physically matched to the DBS Volante, with a design that follows the inherent quality and material honesty of the Aston Martin interior. The loudspeaker grilles are finished with smoothly contoured aluminum so as to integrate seamlessly with the fluid lines and curves of the cabin. When the system is turned on, the twin acoustic lens speakers emerge silently and swiftly, adding a touch of theatre and technological panache that is the perfect complement to the DBS Volante.

As with the coupe, the Volante affords customers the prospect of specifying the optional ten-spoke 20'' forged aluminum lightweight wheel with diamond-turned surface - available in either silver or graphite finishes. With an overall unsprung mass reduction of 8 kg, the option aids enhanced handling, improved acceleration, and braking performance.

Performance

The need for high-performance stability, handling ability and low kerb weight defined the DBS's form and construction. The DBS Volante is powered by the same 6.0-liter V12 engine at the heart of the DBS which was launched in 2007. Producing 510 hp, peak power is delivered at 6500 rpm and the 420 lb-ft of torque is delivered at 5750 rpm. Tractable at any time, the DBS possesses a 'flat' torque curve providing 85% of the torque from 1500 rpm.

The 3.71:1 (manual) and 3.46:1 (Touchtronic) final drive ratio assures that all the DBS Volante's power is useable, while also enhancing in-gear acceleration.

Adding to the sonorous V12 enhances the aural soundtrack. Special by-pass valves in the exhaust allow a quieter exhaust note at low speeds; at 4000 rpm these open to reduce the pressure in the exhaust system, raising the power output as well as generating a rousing aural accompaniment.

The DBS Volante is available as standard with a rear-mounted 6-speed manual gearbox with gear ratios optimised to extract the very best from the 6.0-liter engine. Providing customers with even greater personalization capabilities, a 'Touchtronic' 6- speed automatic featuring a torque converter is also available as an option.

Derived from the same ZF transaxle unit that was developed for the DB9, the system has been substantially re-engineered to accommodate the power and performance characteristics of the DBS.

System functionality is consistent with that on the DB9, with 'Park', 'Reverse', 'Neutral' and 'Drive' modes selected via facia mounted controls.

When in 'Drive' mode, pulling either of the leather-trimmed magnesium alloy paddles mounted on the steering column will activate Touchtronic mode, enabling the driver to control gear shifts via the paddles. Touchtronic mode is also accessible directly on engine start-up. Alternatively, the 'Drive' mode can be selected at any time by pressing the 'D' control on the centre console, engaging a fully automatic mode which will select the most appropriate gear for the speed and driving conditions automatically.

The system also includes a 'Sport' mode - activated by a button on the centre console - which engages a more aggressive gear shift strategy as gear changes feel sharper and more forceful, engine speed matching on downshifts is more aggressive and in full automatic mode, upshifts occur at higher speeds. The Sport setting also incorporates a more responsive throttle map to match the high-performance characteristics of the DBS Volante.

Control

Contributing to the class-leading levels of rigidity, the VH-platform (Vertical - Horizontal) upon which all Aston Martins are founded, ensures a dynamically accomplished convertible translating into an exciting and communicative chassis. The VH architecture is a bonded aluminum structure that provides outstanding strength and rigidity. In comparison to its coupe sibling, the Volante retains 75% of the rigidity equating to 20kNm per degree. This has been achieved by rigidly mounting the rear sub frame and optimizing the front and rear shear panels. Working together these components contribute to more than 20% of the total torsional rigidity.

Augmenting the DBS Volante's supreme handling characteristics is the near perfect weight distribution - achieved by mounting the 6-speed gearbox at the rear placing 85% of the weight between the front and rear axle.

To take full advantage of its extremely precise and rigid platform, the DBS employs a sophisticated Adaptive Damping System (ADS) which is specifically tuned for the DBS Volante maximizing ride comfort. It uses two separate valves to set the dampers to five different positions, allowing instant adjustment of the car's ride and handling characteristics. The ADS automatically alters the suspension settings to ensure the driver has high levels of control at all times, with the ability to respond instantly to different driving conditions. The dampers can be 'softer', with a corresponding improvement in ride quality, or 'firm', providing improved body control for more spirited driving.

The damper settings are determined by an electronic control unit which takes sensor readings from the car's systems, including throttle position, brake position, steering wheel rotation and vehicle speed. This data establishes the prevailing driving conditions and the demands the driver is making on the car.

The DBS Volante's Adaptive Damping System perfectly captures the car's sporting character, ensuring that stiffer dampers are available for better handling and control when the car is being driven enthusiastically, without compromising ride comfort during 'normal' driving conditions. A designated 'Track' mode automatically sets all dampers to their firmest positions, making it ideal for circuit driving. The DBS Volante is fitted with Pirelli P-Zero tires that have been developed especially for the car.

The DBS Volante also has a revised Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system specifically tuned to the Volante to help maintain maximum traction in challenging driving conditions. In default operation, the DSC is automatically on. Select and press the button for two seconds and DSC 'Track' mode is engaged, raising the threshold at which the system intervenes to allow the experienced driver to explore the car's limits. Hold the button for four seconds and DSC is disengaged entirely.

Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) brakes are featured as standard. Providing shorter stopping distances with excellent resistance to fade in even the most demanding driving conditions, the CCM brakes are some 12.5kg lighter than a conventional system. This results in reducing the overall weight of the car and, in particular, the unsprung weight and rotational masses, further enhancing the DBS Volante's dynamics.

Aston Martin DBS Volante: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications

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