Aston Martin Vantage Volante Covent Garden

Road Test Diary: Aston Martin Vanquish Volante

Aston Martin Vantage Volante Covent GardenAston Martin stewardship makes friends you didn’t know you had. Park it on the drive and neighbours you’ve never met will come up and chat. Everyone wants to embrace it; this is not a car for the shy and retiring.

Thing is, it’s genuine appreciation, rather than the envy you get with some other cars. People don’t mind being spotted looking at it, and flash back a smile rather than a scornful scowl if you catch them at it.

I don’t normally spot people standing outside the house taking pictures, but stick an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante on the drive and it becomes almost normal.

Stepping in doesn’t spoil the illusion. This Vanquish Volante is one in the same colour and interior spec as the launch cars in LA, so carries some ‘distinctive’ trim options. That’s teal blue leather as far as the eye can see, with a crisp contrast thanks to yellow stitching and gearshift paddles. Very blue, very striking… but absolutely beautifully finished and with leather that’s mesmerisingly soft and lovely to the touch.

An optional One-77-style quartic steering wheel adds to the cool factor (yes, really: most Aston customers won’t ever make the connection to the Austin Allegro).

Because it’s a car that encourages stares and gazes, most will already know you’re about to drive off. Starting it up confirms it to the people living a couple of streets away. Like a Mercedes-Benz AMG, the Aston is bold at the off, giving the most wonderful V12 blare from its twin exhausts. With excitement primed by the high-tech mechanical whirr of the starter motor, Aston’s talk of making cars with soul becomes that bit more convincing.

It makes concentrating on it at first a little bit tricky. You’re instead concentrating on the fact the world is concentrating on you. The most common sight is a pair of eyes staring at you (well, the car); second most common sight is staring into the barrel of a smartphone. Twitter and Facebook rather accurately tracked me with a series of pings wherever I drove, I’m sure.

It’s only once you switch into celebrity mode and accept being the centre of attention as the new normal that you can really start to discover the Aston.

Even then, it’s all done to an audience. No funny business is on the cards unless you’re driving out of hours. People are forgiving with Aston Martins but drive it towards its 563hp supercar limits and then they’ll start to dislike you (but still not the car). The only trick you are allowed to pull is exhaust-related: in traffic or slow-moving sections of motorway, select Sport, slow down, and blast away when you can. The more revs the better.

This is enough to generate applause. Children in cars give you the thumbs up. Dads (and mums) near-cheer. YouTube gains another set of uploads. Being the most popular person on the road makes it hard to step back out of an Aston into a normal car.

Oh, and the drive itself isn’t bad, either…

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