Something has happened to Aston Martin's snarling, fangs-out flagship. When we first sampled the DBS, back in 2006, the big grand tourer was very much a brawnier version of the DB9, a high speed, all-out sports car for those who liked to experience a blend of pure driving pleasure and tailored design.

But as the DBS has matured, the emphasis on material pleasures has increased - witness the extraordinary Bang & Olufsen system integrated seamlessly into the car - while driver involvement is not quite as edge-of-the-seat and raucous as it was at the model's inception.

Make no mistake, a DBS is never going to be a placid piece of machinery. In convertible form, the performance remains astonishing (a top speed in excess of 190mph, with acceleration, handling and braking that inspire instant confidence) but the refinement is even more apparent.

With Aston's highly acclaimed V12 under the bonnet, a six-speed manual gearbox and adjustable suspension, the DBS Volante matches its coupe sibling in terms of performance and agility. But when you're not pushing on - and we find drop-top motoring to be preferable when conducted at a more modest pace - the Volante is a supremely comfortable place to be.

Aston interiors are never less than special, and although we have the odd ergonomic quibble (the gearstick obscures several critical buttons, and the Volvo-sourced sat nav is starting to feel very long in the tooth), the cabin is one of the very best automotive experiences there is.

Add that interior extravagance to the undeniable pleasures of top down motoring, and you have something rather special. As the company's flagship convertible, the Volante represents a sizeable investment. But in the rarefied world of bespoke performance cars, the Aston Martin still has an unbeatable aura.

TAGS: ASTON MARTIN, TRANSPORT