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  1. Arts & Entertainment

What’s it like to take a $350,000-plus Aston Martin for a spin in Tampa?

A top-down drive along scenic waterfronts is the ultimate distraction.
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Several years ago, I co-wrote a weekly auto review column for the Tampa Bay Times and tbt* called The Daily Drivers. For a lifelong car lover, it was an opportunity to drive dream rides that ranged from Maybachs to muscle cars.

These days, I wring what driving fun I can muster out of my 2013 Honda Fit and its manual transmission.

So when I got a before-the-pandemic email from Aston Martin asking if I’d like to drive one of their cars for a few days, it didn’t take long for me to reply with an enthusiastic yes.

Maybe it’s their James Bond movie pedigree, but Astons seem to have a special cachet even when compared to other high-end automobiles. A drive, such as mine in Tampa, is bound to elicit stares, thumbs-up salutes and comments such as the “Okay, 007!” that I heard from a bicyclist. Maybe that’s why when friends ask me to pick a favorite from the cars I’ve driven, Astons are near the top of the list.

And my weekend loaner, the DBS Volante Superleggera, is a prime example of the Aston art.

In Aston-speak, “Volante” designates the brand’s convertibles and “Superleggera” is Italian for “fast as hell.”

I kid on that last one.

Superleggera translates as “superlight,” and it’s a description that’s more historic than accurate for the 4,000-plus-pound DBS Volante, which sits atop Aston’s GT line. (A GT, or “grand tourer,” is basically a performance car with room for four, but the tiny back seats are really sized more for purses and parcels.)

The DBS Volante Superleggera embodies everything I appreciate about Astons, as well as their sometimes British eccentricity.

On the car’s magnificent side: The hand-built twin-turbo V-12 produces 715 horsepower and comes to life with a symphonic roar when angry. Aston says it has a top speed of 211 mph and is the fastest convertible in the storied brand’s history. That’s certainly believable when all that power pins you to the back of your well-appointed seat. Aside from the visceral thrills, the cockpit embraces occupants with quilted leather seats, which despite being bolstered for spirited driving, are commuter comfortable and a fine example of Aston’s exquisite leathercraft.

On the mundane side: Some plasticky trim pieces that seem out of sorts for a car whose price can push $400,000 and whose interior also features carbon fiber. That’s a quirk I’ve seen in other Astons. Still, no one buys an Aston for the quality of its AC vent louvers.

No, the deep-pocketed aficionados who buy an Aston Martin do so for its sensuous lines, prestige and over-the-top performance.

I know I would. Too bad I had to give it back.

2020 DBS Superleggera Volante

Exterior color: Color: Xenon Grey

Base price: $328,100.00

Powertrain: 715-horsepower 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 with 8-speed automatic transmission. Limited-slip differential with active torque vectoring. Carbon-ceramic brakes. Three selectable powertrain and adaptive damping modes: GT, Sport, Sport+.

Notable features/options: Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Audio ($8,400.00); carbon-fiber hood, trunk, splitter and diffuser. “Q exclusive” interior leather and color ($10,600.00) with contrasting stitiching/welt ($2,300.00).

Price as driven: $379,436.00

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