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Old 12-01-2003, 06:58   #1 (permalink)
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Heir apparently: DB9 Volante sets new standard for soft-top Aston Martin

AutoWeek
By JULIAN RENDELL

"It's not just a coupe with the top taken off."

So says Aston Martin boss Ulrich Bez of his company's latest entry, the DB9 Volante, which will debut at the Detroit auto show in January.

"From the outset of the DB9 program we knew we wanted a convertible model," says Bez, "so the Volante has been thoroughly designed, engineered and built from the outset as a convertible."

As such, the DB9 Volante is shaping up to be the best soft-top Aston in recent history.

Underpinned by a stiff, bonded-aluminum structure, it promises strong ride and handling, while its clean-sheet design means that its roof folds flush with the rear deck under a hard tonneau cover, a big improvement over the cruder design of the DB7 Volante. Even with a roof-folding mechanism, the new model is still 250 pounds lighter than its predecessor.

Power comes from the same 450-hp, 6.0-liter V12 found in the coupe, which should push the soft-top from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds and to a top speed of more than 180 mph. Two transmissions will be offered-a six-speed Graziano manual or a six-speed ZF automatic.

In Britain, the Volante is expected to list for about $188,000, a 10-percent markup over the coupe. U.S. sales begin next fall, about six months after the coupe arrives in dealerships.
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