2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster Review

The Vantage Roadster isn’t as pretty as its predecessor, but performance and practicality have both improved, and it’s just as fun as the coupe.

Qualities that make the fixed-roof Aston Martin Vantage a fine grand tourer are still in abundance in the Roadster – combined with the ability to drop the top in just seven seconds to benefit from the merest sliver of sunshine.

Some rivals are sharper to drive and others slightly more practical, but the Vantage Roadster’s feel-good factor and deep-chested V8-powered performance are both enhanced when the roof is down, while quality and ability both improve upon the old Roadster too.

It’s been a tricky few years for Aston Martin but whatever has happened behind the scenes, the British firm has still managed to create some deeply appealing sports and luxury cars. The Vantage launched in 2018 was another successful addition to the range, and in 2020 a new Vantage Roadster joined it, expanding the model’s remit even further.

While the price has gone up compared to the previous-generation Vantage, it’s been matched by improvements in quality and performance. The latest Vantage Roadster isn’t perfect, and it’s arguably not as pretty as the old Vantage Roadster, but the 4-litre twin-turbo AMG V8 behind its sharky grille has brought newfound ability to the model, with junior supercar pace – 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds and 305km/h – and a thunderous soundtrack perfectly suited to the car’s stocky but distinctive styling.

What’s more impressive still is that the Vantage Roadster can still hold its head high, despite now competing with even tougher rivals at its new price point. It’s a legitimate alternative to cars like the Porsche 911 Cabriolet or the Audi R8 Spyder, and its combination of fluid front-engined, rear-drive handling, a pliant ride and excellent long-distance comfort give it a unique feel, even if some of those rivals are ultimately sharper to drive.

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The Roadster does lack luggage space, it’s interior isn’t quite on the same level in terms of quality as rivals from Porsche, Audi or AMG, and its broad shoulders can raise the blood pressure on tighter roads, but in many ways it actually makes more sense than the coupe – that roof will drop in only seven seconds, and the joy of cruising along with that styling and to that V8 soundtrack is enhanced every time the top comes down.

Brawny V8 powerplant gives the Roadster plenty of character and even more pace, while the handling loses little to its coupe counterpart

Any concern using AMG power would detract from the character of Aston Martin’s old naturally-aspirated V8 has well and truly dissipated by now. If anything the British firm’s work on exhaust tuning has unearthed even more rowdiness from the German engine, and in Roadster form it’s easier to appreciate than ever thanks to a relative lack of sound insulation material.

Performance is thunderous, with very little lag from the turbocharged engine up front and swift changes through the ZF automatic gearbox whether left in auto or using the paddles – though it can’t quite match some dual-clutch rivals for instant changes. Wind noise above around 45mph drowns out some frequencies of the V8 when the roof is down but the deep-chested V8 growl is still easy to appreciate.

As too is the handling. There’s a little more shimmy from the body than with the fixed-roof car but that responsive, short-wheelbase feel is still in evidence, the steering is meaty and the car’s drive modes will let you separate engine aggression from chassis control, so you can relax the damping stiffness if the road turns bumpy. But with the top down, it’s also an even more appealing cruiser than the coupe on those rare sunny days.

As with the coupe the Vantage Roadster packs an AMG-sourced 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 beneath its long bonnet, sending power through an 8-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. As well as producing a fantastic noise it’s brawny too, developing 375kW with 685Nm of torque to its name too. Performance is supercar-quick, with a 3.7-second 0-100km/h time, while despite the folding roof the Roadster is also good for a 305km/h top speed.

Cabin design is lacking in flair, but the same can’t be said of the striking exterior styling. Infotainment is dated but effective

It’s the usual conundrum here: does the Vantage Roadster look better than its coupe counterpart?Personal preference probably has the answer to that, but there’s no doubt the Roadster is an attractive shape, even if it perhaps lacks the purity of its predecessor, which was undoubtedly one of Aston Martin’s best-ever designs.

The convertible top – which can rise or fall in only seven seconds, at speeds of up to 31mph – means unfettered access to the cabin too, which will be especially valuable if you’ve taken the time to customise the car with some of Aston’s unique options. The cabin design isn’t quite as successful as the exterior even so, with a slightly blunt look that incorporates some conspicuous Mercedes-sourced parts, but quality is generally good and the important bits are pleasant to interact with.

If you’re at all familiar with Mercedes-Benz products then you’ll recognise both the look and the control methods for the Vantage Roadster’s infotainment setup. The downside is that Mercedes itself has already moved another generation forwards with its own vehicles, but since the old system was always intuitive to use, and it’s still vastly better than what Aston Martin was using before, the features and controls are still welcome.

More space in both the cabin and boot than the old Vantage, and the seats are very comfortable and endlessly adjustable too

If the ideal journey for a grand tourer like the Vantage Roadster is the archetypal trip to the French Riviera, then you’ll want good space and comfort for two and suitable luggage space for both occupants. On the latter count the Roadster isn’t quite as adept as the coupe but otherwise it meets the required criteria. It’s a comfortable car in which to cover distance, with excellent adjustment to both the seats and steering wheel so a good driving position is easy to come by.

You’ll still ultimately find more practicality in a 911 Cabriolet though – the Aston Martin has higher quoted luggage space, but lacks the Porsche’s rear seats, which have always bolstered the 911’s carrying capacity.

The Vantage Roadster measures in at 4465mm long, 1942mm wide (excluding mirrors, which tip it over the 2.1-metre mark) and 1273mm tall, with a 2704mm wheelbase. Aston Martin also quotes a dry weight of 1628kg, 60kg more than the coupe on account of all the components required to turn the car into a convertible. That makes it a larger car than its predecessor, but stockier than something like a Porsche 911 Cabrio, which is a longer, but narrower and taller car than the Roadster – though also a lighter one.

With just a pair of seats and the potential for unlimited headroom, the Vantage Roadster is more than up to the task of accommodating its complement of passengers. It can feel slightly claustrophobic with the roof up, owing to the slim side windows and low seating position compared to the high shoulder line, but makes up for it somewhat with very comfortable seats that make longer trips a pleasure. You won’t find a glovebox, but other storage areas introduce some practicality into the cabin.

The need to cram in a folding roof has had a detrimental effect on the Vantage’s luggage space, dropping to only 200 litres from the coupe’s 350 litres – though to Aston Martin’s credit, that’s still a lot more usable than its 144-litre predecessor.

Should be just as safe as rivals, and Mercedes mechanicals should ensure relatively robust reliability too.

Antony Ingram

Final Verdict:

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