Aston Martin has coincided the launch of its Vantage Roadster with the introduction of a manual option for the regular coupe, appeasing both fans of open-air motoring and three pedal enthusiasts in one fell swoop. The just-revealed rag top – which gets the world’s fastest folding convertible roof – extends the Vantage range to three, while the addition of a manual to the tin top lowers the starting price to £114,850. The manufacturer will be reckoning on the new arrivals attracting customers not yet convinced by the current generation Vantage.
An attractive convertible - launched in time for spring - can certainly do it no harm. The Vantage has proved a divisive model, styling-wise, but for our money it wears a fabric top rather well. The back-end has a unique boot lid thanks to the loss of the C-pillar and fixed window, giving the car a unique silhouette from almost all angles. The electric folding mechanism takes just seven seconds to fully retract, too, while the use of lighter-than-usual hardware has helped keep the weight gain to just 60kg. As you’d expect, most of the additional mass comes from new structural sheer panels under the car, depolyed to claw back some structural rigidity.
Aston claims a 190mph top speed and 3.8-second 0-62mph time for the convertible, which are just 5mph and two tenths off the coupe’s respective equivalents. As proven with the DB11 Volante, Aston’s engineers are more than capable of retuning roofless versions of its aluminium architecture, so we’re expecting good things when it comes to handling and refinement in the 510hp Vantage Roadster. At this stage, however, the car is to remain eight-speed automatic only, meaning it’s a case of wind in your hair or three pedals, rather than both, in the Vantage line-up.
Unsurprisingly, the manual ‘box offered with the regular coupe is the same dog-leg seven-speed Graziano transaxle you get in the AMR, which itself came from the previous-generation V12 Vantage S. Like the auto, the manual Vantage uses a carbon fibre prop shaft housed within an alloy torque tube, but it gets a conventional mechanical limited-slip diff at the back rather than the e-LSD for packaging reasons. The manual setup has already proven effective, if not the most tactile, in the AMR. Perhaps the regular car’s lower starting price will make it all the more rewarding and authentic provider of a pure Vantage experience.
The ‘vane’ grille fitted to the Elwood Blue car pictured here is a new option offered in place of the standard ‘hunter’ grille, available on both coupe and convertible body styles. The original part has been controversial to say the least; you can make your own mind up about its replacement. Further increasing the customisability of the finish, Aston has introduced new wheels to the available options.
On sale now, prices for the Roadster start at £126,950, making it just over £6k more than the auto coupe and nearly £12k more than the manual. Significantly, it means the Aston undercuts Audi’s V10-powered R8 Spyder by £10k, and there’s currently no direct rival from Porsche’s 992 range on sale, so the Aston brings something new to the table in the circa-500hp drop-top segment. So long as you exclude the AMG GT S Roadster, that is, which costs just £2k more and shares that 4.0-litre V8 engine...