+ Incredible looks
+ Sledgehammer engine
+ Roof-down experience
- Expensive versus rivals
- Sheer thirst
- Comfort on poor roads
Verdict: Next to cars like the Porsche 911 Cabriolet, the Vantage Roadster struggles to make sense. However, its styling, engine and badge will be enough for many to put heart before head. Do so, and you'll still be getting a very special open-top indeed.
2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster review: the five-minute read
After years of Aston Martins being great to look at and great to listen to, but not actually being that great, along came the Vantage in 2018 to change everything. It still looks and sounds superb, but also has the drive to match.
But now there's a second way to have your Vantage – without a roof. The Aston Martin Vantage Roadster is an open-top two-seater with a fabric roof that can be peeled back for an even more visceral V8 experience.
However, there is a problem, and it's called the Porsche 911. It too has an open-top Cabriolet version and happens to be just about as good as sports cars get when it comes to driving thrills.
There is an area where the Porsche 911 can't compete, though: looks. Of course, these things are subjective, and the Porsche is by no means an ugly car, it's just the Vantage is one of the best looking cars on sale. Roof down, the Vantage Roadster is somehow better again.
Inside the Aston, things aren't quite so rosy. There are lashings of leather and seemingly endless personalisation possibilities, but the bottom line is that Porsche does interior quality better. The Aston Martin also has an infotainment system borrowed from Mercedes that Merc stopped using yonks ago. It looks and feels dated to use and you don't even get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
And Porsche has another trick up its sleeve: rear seats. They're only small, but the Vantage Roadster is a strict two-seater. Still, space for two adults onboard is generous and there's plenty of seat and wheel adjustment for the driver to ensure a brilliant driving position. You also get quite a bit more boot space than you do with the open-top 911.
And while the 911's flat-six engine is brilliant, it doesn't have the character or sheer punch of the Vantage's twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8. It's also borrowed from Mercedes, but is bang up to date, sending 510hp to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It'll send the Vantage to 60mph from a standstill in 3.8 seconds and on to 190mph.
The Vantage Roadster has no issues with performance on the road. Its gearbox can be a little dimwitted in Sport, but flick to Sport+ or Track and it wakes up, working with the V8 to provide savage acceleration accompanied but a machine gun soundtrack. Its steering is also fairly light but quick and precise, building confidence.
Really start to push, though, and a 911's steering is sweeter still, plus the Porsche feels more surefooted over imperfect surfaces at speed and generally feels more comfortable over bumps at low speeds too. Really, the Aston is better at cruising, where its cabin remains nicely wind-free even at speed and it irons out bumps much more readily.
The final issue? Price. The Aston Martin Vantage Roadster starts at nearly £130,000, a good £20,000 more than the higher quality, more practical and ultimately better-to-drive equivalent 911 Cabriolet. Still, the margins aren't huge, and for many the Aston's looks, engine and badge will more than make up for it.
For great Aston Martin deals click here
2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster interior and infotainment
The Vantage Roadster is an expensive car and it just about feels it inside. There are lashings of leather and a dizzying array of personalisation options for the seats, interior colours, dash trims, steering wheel design, headlining and seatbelts to name just a few.
No matter how you spec your Vantage Roadster though, if you've had the pleasure of Porsche's latest interiors you'll notice the Aston's switches and interior fittings don't feel as solid. Porsche just does better interiors.
Porsche does better infotainment systems too. The Aston's is borrowed from Mercedes, but is a couple of generations old now, so looks and feels dated to use. It comes with built-in sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio, but it's pretty poor that neither Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are available even as an option on a car this expensive in 2021.
You do get a set of digital driver's dials as standard, but they aren't as vivid or configurable as the best units on sale. There's no wireless smartphone charging on offer and no big-name brands when it comes to sound systems either, although Aston Martin's sound system sounds great all the same.
Buy a new or used Aston Martin with YesAuto
2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster practicality and boot space
Unlike a Porsche 911 Cabriolet with its (admittedly small) rear seats, the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster is a strict two-seater.
A couple of tall adults will have no problems getting comfy inside, plus there's loads of electric adjustment at the seat and wheel to ensure they find the perfect driving position.
The door bins are a decent size, there's a cubby beneath the central armrest and one between and behind the seats, plus a couple of cup holders at the base of the dashboard. You don't get a glovebox, though.
Still, the Vantage Roadster's boot is a great size at 200-litre, which is a decent amount bigger than the one you get in a Porsche 911.
2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster engine
There's just one engine option for the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster, a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol.
It's also borrowed from Mercedes, but unlike the infotainment system is bang up to date, sending 510hp to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It'll send the Vantage to 60mph from a standstill in 3.8 seconds and on to 190mph.
A 911's flat-six engine is superb itself, but it doesn't have the brutal character of this V8, which has seemingly endless torque and sounds like a machine gun when pushed hard.
The Porsche's engine is more economical though, both officially and in the real world. We only managed around 21mpg from the Vantage in mixed driving and barely saw 30mpg on the motorway.
Build your dream car with YesAuto’s configurator
2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster driving
The Vantage Roadster has absolutely no issues with performance, then, but what about living with it every day and those back road blasts?
Well, versus the stiffer solid-roofed coupe Vantage, you certainly notice a little more shudder and shake over particularly poor road surfaces and ultimately the Vantage Roadster isn't as comfortable at low speeds as a Porsche 911 Cabriolet.
There are three levels of suspension stiffness to choose from and Sport, Sport+ and Track driving modes which dial up the responsiveness of the throttle and gearbox plus weights up the steering, Track being the most focused mode.
Set so, the Vantage Roadster is blisteringly quick in a straight line and its sometimes-dimwitted gearbox in most-relaxed Sport mode is sharpened up and ready to party. Its steering is always fairly light, but is precise and gives you confidence placing the car on narrow roads with such potency beneath your right foot too.
The brutal truth though? A Porsche 911 Cabriolet steers more sweetly still, it deals with high-speed road imperfections more readily and feels more planted when pushed hard on moist roads. Those are the facts, but then in a 911 you won't be looking quite as cool, nor enjoy a rumbling V8 soundtrack.
And dialled back to its more sedate driving modes, its roof whipped back in just seven seconds (the fastest of any on sale), the Vantage Roadster makes a fine cruiser. It's more comfortable at higher speeds and it eats up miles with ease while keeping you nicely cocooned from the elements inside.
Buy a new or used car with YesAuto
Configure your perfect car with YesAuto
WATCH: Ford Fiesta ST-Line video review