The heart of every real sports car is a superb engine, the V8 Vantage Coupe and Roadster V8s are equipped with the new 4.7-litre Aston Martin V8 with 426 horsepower (a 12% increase over the previous 4.3-litre version).

The bewitchingly sounding V8 can propel the vehicle at a top speed of 290 km/h (10 km/h improvement) and allow it to reach 0-100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds (compared to 4.9 seconds previously, with the Sportshift transmission).

But these figures don’t tell the whole story; the V8 Vantage is the quintessence of style and technical excellence, thanks to the use of lightweight materials, excellent weight distribution, efficient aerodynamics and a remarkable engine in every respect.

One year after the V8 Vantage, Aston Martin will unveil its convertible version of its V8 Vantage at the next Los Angeles Motor Show. Not surprisingly, the addition of the soft top does not distort the beautiful lines of the little Aston.

The least we can say is that November 2006 is one of the most important months for Aston Martin as the British brand will return to the mythical big screen with the release of Casino Royale, James Bond’s new Opus.

Her Majesty’s most famous spy will drive an Aston Martin DBS, which will make its first official appearance. To come back to more concrete things, the manufacturer will take advantage of the Los Angeles showroom, which opens at the end of the month, to reveal the convertible version of the V8 Vantage.

Called the V8 Vantage Roadster, this new model does not benefit from the name Volante, which remains the prerogative of its big sister: the DB9.

Don’t assume that the V8 Vantage Roadster is a discount model. The lines are still as sublime as ever and it is not the addition of the canvas hood that changes much since the overall design remains similar to the coupé.

As is the case with many high-end manufacturers, there is no hardtop here, but a good old hood. Prestige obliges. Fully automatic, this canvas hood can be operated in 18 seconds and this manoeuvre can be carried out at speeds of up to 50 km/h. With a glass rear window, it also features a double boss hood cover that conceals the two roll bars.

The installation of this hood also has an impact on the practicality and weight of the V8 Vantage. As a result, the trunk now has 144 litres of cargo space (just enough for a weekend trip for two people). The most significant consequence is the addition of reinforcement specific to any convertible, which in the case of the V8 Vantage Roadster increases the weight by 140 kg. With 1,710 kg on the scale, the V8 Vantage Roadster is not lightweight.

The interior remains the same as the coupé. We are always seduced by the quality of the assembly and the materials, with a special mention for the burgundy leather of the model shown in the photos.

Under the hood is the original Jaguar V8, which develops 380 hp at 7000 rpm. Despite the increase in weight, the performance remains identical to the coupé version with a maximum speed of 280 km/h and a 0 to 100 km/h down in 5 seconds. Manufacturer data that seem suspicious to us given the increase in weight and that would deserve to be checked.