4.3 out of 5 4.3
Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3

Baby Aston roadster takes on Porsche 911 Cabriolet

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster (20 on) - rated 4.3 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £127,005 - £127,005
Used price £89,250 - £104,245
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs

PROS

  • Brilliant engine sound
  • Fabulous handling
  • Impressive ride quality

CONS

  • Messy cabin layout
  • Outdated infotainment
  • Auto gearbox not as good as a 911’s

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster rivals

Written by James Dennison on

Aston Martin’s smallest and cheapest convertible model has arrived in the shape of the Vantage Roadster. Based on the accomplished Vantage Coupe launched in 2018, it aims to combine driver-focused sportscar underpinnings with the wind-in-your-hair appeal of a classic drop-top.

And indeed, there’s no complicated folding metal roof in sight. Instead, the Vantage Roadster uses a compact Z-fold fabric roof that can be lowered in just 6.7 seconds – the fastest full operating cycle of any automatic automotive convertible system.

A neat trick no doubt, but with such stiff competition from the Jaguar F-Type Convertible, Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster and, in particular, the Porsche 911 Cabriolet, the Vantage Roadster certainly has its work cut out.

How does it drive?

In a word – brilliantly. The Vantage Coupe is a fabulously enjoyable car to take down your favourite country lane, but the Roadster is, for us, even better. And this is an impressive feat when most convertible models don’t tend to drive as well as their coupe counterparts. Why? Well, weight has a lot to do with it.

For a variety of reasons, convertibles are heavier than coupes, yet the Vantage Roadster keeps this weight increase down to just 60kg – less than what carrying an additional passenger around would add. This, along with a variety of chassis tweaks including revised dampers, stiffer rear anti-roll bars and recalibrated power steering, means the Roadster benefits from all the handling prowess of the Coupe, but with added convertible goodness.

It’s wonderfully nimble with quick, immediate steering that gives you plenty of confidence, along with the huge amounts of grip available from the front tyres. And, as has become the norm with Aston Martins over the last few years, the chassis setup is biased towards oversteer, meaning there’s ample opportunity allow the back to slide around under power if you so wish.

Three drive modes allow you to have some control over how the engine and chassis behave – namely Sport, Sport+ and Track – yet for those using this car on the road, the middle setting is an excellent compromise. The ride quality is firm, yet not overly so, and allows you to enjoy the superb dynamics of the car without having an uncomfortable ride.

Along with the Track mode, Sport+ also allows the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine to do its best work. Delivering 510hp and 685Nm of torque, 0-62mph takes just 3.8 seconds, with top speed coming in at 190mph with the roof up.

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster rear three-quarter driving

The biggest departure from the Coupe, however, is the noise. We know the Mercedes-AMG sourced V8 engine is loud, but it never quite seemed to be at its most vocal in the Vantage Coupe. Remove the roof, however, and everything changes. There’s a wonderful repertoire of noise, from a deep, low rumble, to the cracks of lighting when you manually shift up a gear. It’s an addictive sound and makes the driving the Vantage Roadster a proper event – more so than the 911 Cabriolet.

Where the aforementioned Porsche does steal a march, however, is the gearbox. The Vantage Roadster uses a ZF eight-speed automatic that does the job well enough, but can’t match up to Porsche’s PDK ‘box for sheer responsiveness.

All-round refinement is respectable for a convertible sports car and the engine is capable of purring along in a high gear if needed. That said, road noise is noticeable (but not more so than in a 911) and we were expecting a little less wind buffeting with the roof down.

What’s the cabin like?

It’s a mixed bag. There’s no doubt about the quality of material and stitching, plus the driving position is nice and low and offers plenty of adjustment. The rest of the cabin, however, is a button fest – and not a particularly well laid out one at that.

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster interior

During our test drives of the Roadster – and indeed, extended drives in the Coupe – we’d often find ourselves looking down for the right button or switch, often without sucess. Sure, it’s something owners will get used to, but there’s no denying that rivals have the edge on layout.

The infotainment system is workable but uses the now-outdated Mercedes-Benz COMAND software. Not the end of the world, but for those who like cutting edge tech in their £130k cars, the Porsche once again has the clear advantage.

Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes sat-nav, keyless entry, a 360-degree parking camera, electrically adjustable memory seats and dual-zone climate control. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still not available, however.

Is it practical?

It’s a two-seat sports roadster, so what you see is what you get. There’s no smaller seats in the back for brave occupants or young children to squeeze in, just the bulkhead that leads through to the distinctly bijou boot space. You should just about get two carry-on bags in, but there’s no doubt the 911 wins out for outright storage space thanks to extra room behind the front seats.

Happily, however, the amount of leg and shoulder room in the Vantage Roadster is excellent. There’s not the small, cramped feeling you get in many two seat sports cars and even with the fabric roof in place, headroom is still generous. Storage space is tight, though, with only small pockets of space in the doors and under the centre armrest.

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Is the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster worth your cash? Read the Parkers verdict to find out. 

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster rivals

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