- The CorvetteGrand Sport convertible and the Aston Martin DB11 Volante match up closely on specs, even though the Aston costs hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
- I put both cars through their paces.
- The Aston Martin DB11 is impressive, but the Corvette Grand Sport is the best value available in high-performance sports cars.
I’ve often said that Aston Martins are the thinking person’s Corvettes.
But I should probably stop saying that, not least because the latest generation of the Vette, built with pride in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is the sports car many people would buy – if they thought seriously about their purchase. Basically, the Corvette is where the truly smart money should look.
That said, Aston Martins are still Aston Martins: James Bond’s ride, an icon of style, expensive as all get out, but in many ways totally worth it. I often want to argue with Aston because the price tags are so high. And then I slip behind the wheel and all is immediately forgiven.
I recently reviewed an Aston Martin DB11 Volante, a $US273,244 convertible version of the DB11, the British carmaker’s successor to the DB9. What a car!
But I was reminded, as I went through my usual Corvette counter-analysis, that I’d checked out a similarly spec’d Vette – the Grand Sport – a while back and was blown away by this $US70,000 beast. For the record, Astons and Vettes might be separated by $US200,000, but they go head to head on some of the world’s greatest race tracks in endurance racing, most notably at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
So let’s say you want to drop a considerable amount of coin on an Aston – just because, you know, it’s an Aston. Should you step back and potentially save yourself a few hundred grand by at least considering the Vette?
I think it’s a worthy exercise. So let’s get to it.
Photos by Hollis Johnson, unless otherwise indicated.
Let’s begin with the Corvette Grand Sport.
With a 460-horsepower, naturally aspirated, 6.2-litre V8 engine, the Vette gives up 45 ponies to the Aston, which cranks out 505 horsepower using a 4.0-litre, Mercedes-sourced V8 that boasts twin turbochargers.
Could a turbo Vette match the Aston? Perhaps – but then it wouldn’t offer that pure V8 vibe that Corvette is known for. Besides, both cars can achieve the 0-60 mph sprint in under four seconds.
The Vette’s motor is definitely more raw and stonking. The Aston’s delivers a refined scream at higher revs, while the Corvette, being a Corvette, attempts to scare driver, children, and animals.
Smaller, turbocharged engines are becoming more prevalent on sports cars, for reasons of fuel economy, emissions, and regulatory compliance. The DB 11 Volante’s twin-turbo V8 is juxtaposed with its big brother DB 11 Coupé’s V12, for example.
But there’s something to be said for taking gasoline, squirting it into combustion chambers, blowing it up in controlled fashion, and translating that violence into sweet velocity – without having to resort to extra plumbing to use exhaust gases to spin some turbos to intensify the process. Blunt, yes. Old-school, sure.
But so, so satisfying.
The Corvette Grand Sport was created by the car’s first chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, in 1963. They were intended to be race cars, designed to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Vette GS sits between the Stingray and the 650-horsepower Z06 in the lineup – with the 755-horsepower Zr1 at the top of the mountain.
No supercharger, as on the Z06. But the GS gets a bunch of the Z06’s performance goodies, making it the better track car than the Stingray. That’s the key difference among the three versions of the this Vette.
The combination of this eight-speed auto with the GS’s V8 is just about the best tranny-engine marriage that money can buy. It’s simply brilliant,
This small plaque inside the car is a reference to the 1963 original.
Compared to the Stingray, the Grand Sport is slightly more aggressive, but without being as over-the-top as the supercar-conquering Z06. And as a convertible, this Vette is sleek and handsome, and it sure looks good in white.
With the top up, the Vette doesn’t look as sharp.
The interior is purposeful rather than luxurious, with straightforward analogue gauges and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
The seats — and there are just two of them — are comfortable enough for everyday cruising, but they’re really designed for spirited driving.
Infotainment is covered by Chevy’s Intellilink system, which is one of the best around. In the Vette GS, the screen is modest, but it still provides 4G LTE wifi via GM’s OnStar; Bluetooth connectivity with USB/AUX ports; and Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
On to the Aston Martin DB11 Volante! We weren’t sure about the Pearl Blonde paint job, especially with the blue top, but after about 15 minutes I was loving it.
Here’s that aforementioned 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8. It’s an excellent motor, but of course, it’s derived from a Mercedes-AMG engine.
The top drops in about 15 seconds for delicious open-air motoring.
The gearshifts are handled by buttons in the center stack, and an 8-speed transmission can be manually operated using paddles behind the steering wheel.
While the Vette is certainly cool, the DB11 Volante is simply breathtaking. This is a beautiful machine, art and sculpture.
Unlike the Vette, the DB11 Volante looks incredible with the top up.
The interior is far more luxurious than what I found in the Corvette. That creates some pressure, however. I always feel underdressed in an Aston, even when I have on a suit.
The Aston also has exquisite, brogued leather seats, plus a back seat, plus …
… gorgeous wood trim.
The infotainment system, as with the engine, comes from Mercedes. It’s fine. There’s also a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system. But infotainment on the Aston isn’t as good as with the Vette.
And the winner is the Corvette Grand Sport!
Look, if you want an Aston Martin, the DB11 Volante is a glorious machine and you won’t be disappointed.
“The Aston is pretty much in its element no matter what the circumstances,” I wrote in my review, speaking of the car’s ability to handle cruising duty, long drives, and pedal-to-the-metal action.
“This makes for an endlessly blissful experience, and it should, given the price tag,” I added. “You very much get what you pay for. And the old knock about convertible being less thrilling to drive than hardtops doesn’t apply.”
However, with the Grand Sport, you get so, so much more than you paid for. The price tag is comical, given how great the car is.
“You simply can’t get a better high-performance car for the price,” I wrote when I reviewed the GS. “It’s under a hundred grand! A Ferrari, a Porsche, a Lamborghini or a McLaren would cost you hundreds of thousands more. And you don’t even need to have Z06 envy. This is the one, people.”
Indeed, the Vette is aimed far more at the enthusiast driver than the Aston, and the DB11 shimmers with style and class. But the Corvette GS’s value is simply staggering, and it’s not exactly unstylish. You’re also likely to be less worried about messing it up should you get too bold with the throttle.
So the Vette takes it!
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