I’m high up in the French Alps north of Cannes, driving the new Aston Martin DB11 Volante. As if that isn’t sufficiently sublime, I’m paused momentarily in front of a stone arch that spans the road, waiting for clouds to dissipate so I can see the mountain road ahead. Off to my left and below is a thick layer that speaks to the overcast day that awaits me. But it’s sunny up here, and the Volante is a convertible; naturally, I have the top down.
The road I’m on is called the Route de Gentilly, and it weaves through the mountains like an extended balcony through the rocky ledge. The GT designation on the Volante means it’s a Grand Tourer and it provides a lovely ride through the Provence countryside at sightseeing speeds. But on a twisty road like the Route de Gentilly, the Volante drives best in the Sport+ mode, shifting its weight, like a boxer up on his toes, to maneuver smoothly through the turns. And with a twin-turbo, 503-horsepower V8 engine under the hood, managed by a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, promising a top speed of 187 mph and 4.1 second acceleration to 62 mph, short straightaways are covered in a flash of fantastic motoring noises. A rear blade deploys at different speeds depending upon the driving mode to smooth out aerodynamics.
I’m having a James Bond moment, careened around this road in an Aston Martin DB5 (which was incidentally also used in the 1995 film Goldeneye). The design of the Volante is unabashedly cinematic in its influences with a side view that reflects 70% of the light downward and 30% upward, much the way classic epics like Lawrence of Arabia split the screen visually. The model I’m driving is lunar white and the color, mated with a gorgeous black interior, has a Star Wars Imperial Trooper vibe (albeit one with huge eyes up front and cursive C-shaped slits for brake lights). But no matter what the color, the Volante is the kind of car that makes you want to scope the exterior before getting behind the wheel, just so your eyes can follow the pleasing design lines.
Near the end of my drive, I feel obligated to put the eight-layered cloth top up, and it deploys in 16 seconds at slow speeds, cutting down the wind noise for a quiet ride. The top, I decide, is just for emergencies.
Available June 2018, $216,495; astonmartin.com.