Canadian billionaire may take major stake in Aston Martin
At least one part of Aston Martin’s new convertible is the fastest ever made.
Not the speed—though its zero-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds isn’t bad. The forthcoming 2021 Aston Martin Vantage roadster can drop its top in a mere 6.7 seconds, about how long into any 007 movie it takes to determine that Daniel Craig is the best James Bond.
The good-looking descendant of the British grand tourer that premiered in 1977 and its Volante open-air counterpart, which debuted in 1986, takes slightly longer to raise its top—6.8 seconds, according to a company spokesperson—but can do either at speeds of up to 31 mph.
Both times are 50 per cent faster than the industry standard of about 14 seconds, besting other high-end models such as the BMW i8 (15 seconds), the Porsche 911 (12 seconds), and even barely beating the muscle-car star Ford Mustang convertible, which can do it in seven seconds. (By comparison, the current Aston Martin DB11 Volante takes 14 seconds.)
A tailored fabric stretched tightly over a compact Z-fold mechanism provides the engineering behind this level of quickness. When deployed, the apparatus tucks itself away deep in the car—deep enough that the sexy two-seater has enough room to fit a single standard-size golf bag and accessories in the trunk, even with the top down. While it’s not the car you’d want to take on a weekend getaway for two—storage for two overnight bags, coats, and accessories would be extremely tight at best—the space is still an improvement of several cubic inches over the DB11 Volante.
The Vantage starts at us$146,000 for the manual-transmission coupe, while the roadster costs $161,000 in the U.S. With the special options and customizations available, dealers expect the price to reach much higher.
Open-Top Star Under Cloudy Skies
Set during the 70th anniversary of the Vantage nameplate, the debut comes at a critical time for Aston Martin as it gains new ownership and readies the launch of its first-ever SUV, the us$189,000 DBX. In January, Canadian fashion tycoon and Formula One team owner Lawrence Stroll became set to assume the title of executive chairman after helping infuse the brand with a $656 million lifeline and buying a 17 per cent stake of the company for himself.
The company has struggled to recover from its 2018 IPO, a controversial and disappointing offering that did little to soothe consumer and investor anxiety. Throughout 2019 its stock wavered between a 60 per cent and 75 per cent loss in value since the IPO; Aston has said U.K. and European buyers are delaying purchases amid uncertainty around Brexit, causing it to miss sales targets. Last month the 107-year-old luxury automaker reported a steep profit decline in its first full year as a listed company.
Same Car, Now With More
When it comes to the Vantage roadster, though, that dire financial reality is softened with a considerable rose-colored tint. The car looks sleek and sporty, elegant enough for Bond himself. It comes with the same engine found in its coupe counterpart—a 4.0-liter V-8 with 503 horsepower and 505 pound-feet of torque—and the same eight-speed paddle-shifting transmission. (A manual seven-speed gearbox is optional on the coupe but not the roadster, a sore subject for Aston Martin enthusiasts nostalgic for the brand’s more driving-oriented past.) The roadster’s 190 mph top speed falls just short of the hardtop version’s 195 mph, as does the aforementioned sprint time: 3.7 seconds to hit 60 mph, compared with 3.5 seconds for the coupe.
The open-top two-seater’s allure crystalizes its clarion call when you get to the “options” list. Aston Martin has offered a range of new extras across the Vantage line, including the company’s classic “vane” grille, which has gleaming polished slats positioned like a ladder across its front. It will be available on both the coupe and roadster as an alternative to the coupe’s track-inspired “hunter” blacked-out grille. There are also new alloy wheels and finishes.
And the new roadster is likely to go over well, despite the company’s fiscal woes: Aston Martin traditionally sells more convertibles than coupes in its range of sports cars. Deliveries are scheduled to begin this fall.