Test Drive: 2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster
Power, maneuverability and style all packed into a surprisingly compact body, the British automaker delivers on all fronts
by James Willard
The V12 Vantage was originally created as a love letter to 12-cylinder motoring. When the beloved British brand squeezed its most potent V12 engine between the frame rails of its smallest model, Aston Martin wasn’t aiming for success, but rather to prove its engineering prowess and the brand’s love and respect for driving.
Embracing a run of unanticipated success, Aston created from the bones of that happy accident something perhaps even more wondrous: the V12 Vantage S Roadster, which combines all the cogency of the carbon fiber chassis and 12-cylinder engine with the face-warming delight of a convertible. And there was no better place for us to put this stunningly compact high-powered machine—and its cooling capabilities—to the test than the blistering desert roads outside Palm Springs, CA.
Before we hit the road, however, Aston’s designers explained to us the Roadster’s significance. To create the sporty yet refined V12 Vantage S Roadster, along with replacing the hardtop with a folding soft-top, Aston Martin designers added a few more distinguishing features. First they did away with the aluminum veins in the grille, replacing them with carbon fiber, which can be highlighted by an optional lipstick body color accent. Then on the hood, pronounced louvers were added, which help cool the 565-horsepower 6.0-liter V12. The flared wheel arches finish off the look, giving ample room for the lightweight forged alloy ten-spoke wheels.
It’s a good thing engineers blessed the V12 Vantage S Roadster with increased cooling capabilities. On that blistering early fall day in Palm Springs—with temperatures in fahrenheit topping out in the hundreds—it was essential. As we climbed the hills outside the desert city, hitting 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, we echoed the dynamite-carved stone walls with the sounds of a new, bellowing exhaust system borrowed from the One-77 hypercar. These kinds of harsh, high-heat and full-throttle conditions are how most automakers torture-test their vehicles. For Aston Martin however, this outing was simply how it imagined owners enjoying their cars.
Although its roof was removed, the V12 Vantage S Roadster seemed to lose no lateral rigidity and handled high-speed cornering with aplomb. The Roadster’s steering is incredibly communicative and direct—proving the car is more than a style accessory; it’s still a pulse-heightening driving machine.
Impressively, the V12 Vantage S Roadster is as enjoyable flat-out as it was on a comfortable cruise. When reverted from Sport—or, even more riotous, Track mode—back into normal Drive mode, the car was as quiet and comfortable as any luxury grand tourer. Even above 70 mph, wind and road noise were negligible, which allows occupants to sit back and enjoy the wind in their hair and sun on their faces.
That’s what impressed most about the 2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster; its ability to live in so many realms at once. At a standstill, it looks as gentlemanly as James Bond in a neatly pressed tuxedo. At full throttle, it’s as menacing and heart-racing as an Italian supercar. However, when allowed to relax, it embraces its character shift and cruises calmly. All of this demonstrates that the V12 Vantage S Roadster isn’t just for driving purists—it’s for pleasure seekers with an eye for style as well.
Currently hitting dealerships across the world, the V12 Vantage S Roadster starts around $195,000.
Images courtesy of Aston Martin