When you sell about 120,000 cars in 107 years, even 120,000 very expensive cars, red ink flows. Aston Martin has gone belly up seven times in its history, and its current books don't look so good. Despite a recent investment by Mercedes and a new wave of products powered by the Germans giant's turbocharged engines, Aston's CEO was recently replaced by Tobias Moers, the former chief executive officer of Mercedes-AMG.
Surely the acne-afflicted teenager ogling the sexy lines of the 2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster is unaware of Aston's money troubles and C-suite dramas. And he doesn't care. He rolls down the window of his mom's SUV to better hear the burbling idle of its twin-turbo V-8. "Do a burnout," he yells, with lust in his eyes. "Rev the engine."
If you believe kids don't like cars anymore, spend a week in a current Aston Martin. Like the Vantage coupe, introduced in 2019, the new convertible version of the two-seater stops anyone less than 18 years old in their tracks. One morning we found a young father and his two boys admiring its Yellow Tang-painted curves and extensive carbon-fiber trim. The seven-year-old wasn't shy. "How fast will it go?" Upon hearing of the Roadster's 190-mph top speed, he shot back, "Some cars like McLarens can go over 200." Yes, we let them sit in it.
Under the Roadster's aluminum clamshell hood and beefy chassis bracing is the same AMG engine you find in the hardtop (as well as its native home, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S and the GLC63 S). The handbuilt AMG engines are usually badged with the name and signature of the builder but not here. In the Aston it's the engine's inspector that gets the nod. Our test car's under-hood plaque read, "Final Inspection by Dave Nimmo."
As in the coupe, the 4.0-liter gets a 503-horsepower rating at 6000 rpm and is connected to a quick-shifting eight-speed ZF automatic transaxle. There's enough punch up and down the tach to regularly exercise the traction control as well as your scalene muscles. But it isn't scary quick. In fact, the V-8's a bit lazy off the line as the electronics manage its 505 pound-feet of torque, which peaks at just 2000 rpm. There's a long beat before its full brutality is unleashed and the scenery begins to blur. Clicking off tightly spaced gears at 7000 rpm, the transmission keeps the speed coming, blissfully uninterrupted, as long as you keep your foot down. Sixth gear hits right at 150 mph.
Aston says the Roadster reaches 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, which is two tenths behind our test results for Jaguar's supercharged F-TypeR convertible, while Porsche's 443-hp rear-drive 911 Carrera S out-accelerates them both. The last Vantage coupe we tested hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, and we suspect the open car will close the gap when we get one on the test track. Some structural additions and its folding top add a claimed 132 pounds to the coupe's 3726-pound curb weight, while its lumpier aero shaves 5 mph from its top speed