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A 6.0-liter V12 engine featuring 48 valves produces 450 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; a Touchtronic manually interactive six-cog automatic with paddle shifters is available. Eighty percent of the engine's torque is cranking at 1,500 rpm to ensure quick off the line launches, delivered to the rear-mounted transmission via a carbon fiber driveshaft. In fact, Aston Martin says that the 2005 DB9 Volante will rush from rest to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
Credit this blazing accelerative ability to the extensive use of aluminum used in handcrafting the 2005 Aston Martin DB9 Volante. The DB9's aluminum-bonded body frame is 25 percent lighter yet twice as stiff torsionally as the old DB7, which the DB9 replaced this year as the volume Aston Martin.
Several body panels are also made of aluminum, the double wishbone four-wheel-independent suspension is constructed of the lightweight alloy, and even the gauge needles are created using this high-tech material in an effort to keep weight down. With the engine located up front and the transmission mounted in the rear, these weight saving efforts result in a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution front to rear.
Four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist come standard. The brake discs are vented and grooved rather than cross-drilled for maximum effectiveness. Stability control is also standard, despite the Aston Martin DB9 Volante's sticky 19-inch wheels and tires. Every Volante comes equipped with side airbags and a rollover protection system that deploys roll hoops from the 2+2 convertible's rear seat headrests. The front A-pillars and windshield header are designed to withstand twice the DB9 Volante's weight.
The cabin is awash in leather, wood and aluminum trimmings. Scotland's Bridge of Weir outfits the 2005 Aston Martin DB9 Volante with up to 20 shades of soft, supple leather. Three exposed wood trims are available: walnut, mahogany and bamboo. The engine fires by pushing a clear glass starter button that is sand-etched with the Aston Martin logo. It glows red when the engine is running, and blue when the DB9 Volante is turned off. Gauges are floodlit rather than backlit for maximum clarity at night, and the trip computer is an organic electroluminescent display for high resolution and sharp contrast - even in sunlight. Linn, a Scottish audio expert, provides 950-watts of maximum power and a 200-watt subwoofer.
The 2005 Aston Martin DB9 Volante sheds its roof in 17 seconds, tucking it beneath a power-operated hard tonneau for a finished look. Handmade in Gaydon, England, Aston Martin expects that as many as half of all DB9 sales will be the Volante model. Pricing will be announced closer to the new model's arrival on the market.
(By Christian J. Wardlaw. Photos Courtesy of Aston Martin (written: 01/09/04)
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