For Two Very Clever Reasons, the DB11 Volante Is the Best-Looking Convertible Available

Design is in the details; here it’s all about proportions and roof mechanisms.

“Volante is a name unique to Aston. It’s Italian for ‘flying,’ and it’s something that we attribute to all our open-top cars.” Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer stood in front of the new convertible, painted “Silver Blonde,” yesterday morning in a loft overlooking the Hudson river. He explained there won’t be a drop-top V12 DB11 (my favorite), for a good, sporting reason: what weight the V8 shed compared to the V12 the Volante’s gains back. But performance isn’t what makes the DB11 — Volante or coupe — beautiful. That title belongs to Leonardo da Vinci.

“We always design for beauty; therefore, we always use the Golden Ratio. Like Leonardo DaVinci’s rule.” Palmer invoked da Vinci as he pantomimed the Vitruvian Man, meaning Aston utilizes the study of perfect proportions throughout its designs. To illustrate this, Palmer began to move around the car, pointing out the simplified Golden Ratio throughout. From the A-pillar frontwards represents one-third of the car; the A-pillar back two-thirds. He places his hands on two of the side creases, split by a third crease, all running the car’s length: the top portion is one-third of the total, the bottom portion the remaining two. It’s a simple visual trick in many ways, but it’s a visual trick for a reason — to the human brain, perfect proportions are interpreted as beautiful. And on the DB11, roof or not, the ratio begets a spectacular shape. “One-third, two-thirds; one-third, two-thirds…” Palmer continues. “You see it absolutely everywhere. That’s what creates these timeless designs.”

What sets the Volante apart from its fixed-roof twin goes beyond the legacy of a 15th-century genius, however. “One of the keys for us was getting this point as low as possible,” Palmer says, pointing to the surface where the Volante’s folding eight-layer canvas roof meets the forward-most edge of the trunk lid. “It’s not easy.” The roof can’t just cram into negative space in the trunk, either — it has to fold perfectly in just 14 seconds from the time you touch the button. To do this, the roof design utilizes what Palmer called a “K-fold” — the specific shape the roof takes as its mechanism bends for stowage.

Fitting literally the entire roof of a car into its trunk without compromising design is always quite a feat. Here, it’s executed deftly; the roof folds into a package only about 10 inches high, and in such a way that when it’s up there are no ripples or creases marring the roof line. Difficult as it may be, compare the Volante to the DB11 coupe and you’ll see that middle area on the trunk is still not the highest point on the rear end. That’s closer to the hips, where the fuel filler tube necessitated more vertical room. That is to say, Aston overcompensated in the name of good design.

Because of the low trunk profile, there is no need for a spoiler and there is no clever “air jet” like on the coupe; there’s just a little spoiler that pokes out when necessary. What you’re left with is a gorgeous shape on the rear third of the car, if only a bit too broken up by panel seams. Get a darker paint color, and you’ll never notice. Deliveries begin in March with a base price of $216,495.

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