First Drive: Aston Martin V12 Speedster – Roofless Roadster

The wettest May in decades – just the moment for Aston Martin to launch a roofless roadster

The V12 Speedster is, quite literally, breathtaking. Hurtling across the English countryside, I’m just glad for the full-face safety helmet I crammed in my travel bag before leaving home earlier. Without it I’d be gasping for breath, inbetween the giggles and guffaws as this 186mph supercar scrabbles for grip on rain-soaked asphalt. As well as leaving off the roof, Aston has firmly grasped the less-is-more mantra for the Speedster and emitted to fit a windscreen too.

Yes, just like the Ferrari Monza and forthcoming, £1.4 million McLaren Elva, this awesome Aston is untroubled by glass. Without it, arriving anywhere after an enthusiastic drive should add a whole new meaning to the term ‘bad hair day’.Minimalist hypercars are all the rage at the moment, so it’s a surprise some of the 88 Speedsters being built by Aston Martin are still available to buy.

The £765,000 price-tag could dampen enthusiasm when a DBS Superleggera Volante with the same 5.2-litre V12 engine is less than half the cost. That’s especially true in the US, where the Speedster’s outrageous design means it can only be enjoyed on a racetrack.

Sat low in the Speedster cabin, the trim is a predictable mix of lightweight materials and leather, with some familiar Aston Martin switchgear to boot. The most obvious addition is the carbon-fibre blade, running fore and aft between the two seats at neck height.

It’s a cool slice of bodywork design but ‘enthusiastic’ drivers will probably curse the impact between helmet and carbon-fibre reaching down for the heating controls. And with 700bhp coursing through an eight-speed automatic gearbox – slightly less than the Superleggera – there’s plenty of opportunity to chip the lacquer. A heated steering wheel and backside warmers in the wafer-thin carbon-fibre seats are optional – most other luxuries have been stripped out to save weight. At least the powerful air heater is preventing my fingers from numbness.

This particular Speedster is a cut above the rest because it has been fitted out in DBR1 specification, around an extra £50,000. The Racing Green paintwork and flashy anodised grille pay tribute to the iconic Aston that won the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours and the Nurburgring 24 Hours races. Speedster was seemingly influenced by a fighter jet too. Aston has collaborated with Boeing in the past to create a bespoke aircraft interior and couldn’t resist adding some Top Gun-style bling on some versions.

The cockpit in those cars features Boeing F/A 18 Super Hornet decals and a ‘Do Not Step’ warning sticker underneath the central dividing blade, which all seems rather unnecessary, even for a wannabe James Bond.

Creature comforts for longer journeys are few and far between, just in case owners plan to dodge the showers and head off for the weekend. The modest boot space is complemented by an ingenious, removable leather bag, replacing a conventional glovebox on the dashboard.

Whether the V12 Speedster appeals might depend on where you live. In Britain, I’d be constantly monitoring the weather app on my cell phone before heading out. For those in sunnier climes, this Aston Martin could be the ultimate, wind-in-the-hair driving experience.