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Aston Martin Vantage Roadster

Not only can we bring you an exclusive drive of the all-new DBS, but we've also got up close with Aston's new baby drop-top

Text: Ross Pinnock / Photos: John Rettie

Swept-back headlamps instantly identify new car as Aston’s ‘baby’, but with the top folded, Roadster’s stylish leather-trimmed ‘speed humps’ come into view behind each seat.

Extra strengthening adds 80kg to Roadster’s weight, while boot space is halved

We were first to bring you spyshots of the V8 Roadster , and the man at the wheel was none other than company boss Ulrich Bez. Aston has now invited us to photograph the V8 Vantage Roadster - in all its showroom-ready glory.

The trademark Aston Martin front grille, swept-back headlamps and compact proportions instantly identify this as the manufacturer's smallest model. And, as with the coupé, the Roadster uses an advanced bonded alumin-ium chassis wrapped in sleek lightweight composite, magnesium alloy and aluminium bodywork.

However, in place of the conventional roof there is a smart triple-layer soft-top with a heated glass rear screen. The hood folds beneath a hard tonneau cover at the touch of a button, taking 18 seconds from start to finish. What's more, the mechanism operates at speeds of up to 30mph.

Even with the roof up, the car looks stunning; but drop the top and the design comes into its own, revealing a pair of leather-wrapped 'speed humps' behind each seat. The stylish retro touches help to merge the modern exterior with the more traditional Aston cabin, and give the soft-top a distinctive appearance.

Inside, there's a low seating position and swathes of leather surrounding the driver. As ever, the ability to go roofless comes with a trade-off, notably in terms of boot capacity - which falls from 300 litres in the coupé to 144 litres in the Roadster. And despite being devÂ*eloped alongside the tin-top, the cabrio's roof mechanism and extra strengthening add 80kg to the kerbweight.

However, the firm's 4.3-litre 380bhp V8 engine ensures performance is still mighty despite the extra baggage. The Roadster covers 0-60mph in five seconds dead, only 0.1 seconds slower than the V8 Vantage Coupé.

Lucky buyers will also get the choice of two transmissions when the model arrives next year; Aston's new Sportshift system will be offered alongside a conÂ*ventional six-speed manual gearbox. The paddle-operated automated manual set-up provides super-fast changes.

You'll have to wait until the spring before the Roadster appears in showrooms in the UK, but if you want one, you are advised to make an early visit - on this evidence, you could end up at the back of a very long queue!

Beautifully built cabin has low seating position, plus high-grade leather

Light body and chassis promise to give car huge driver appeal

V8 gives cabrio performance similar to coupé

Neat fabric roof retracts electrically under the hard tonneau cover in 18 seconds. But the new model – to be built at Aston’s global HQ in Gaydon, Warks – looks equally stunning whether hood is up or down.
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