With the driver aids extinguished, the SLS is a handful. It’ll spin its rear tires in first, second and third gear if you’re brutal. It will even drift with only a slight mid-corner blip in fourth gear, because there’s always an abundance of low-end grunt.
Like the Aston, the car is a masterpiece in the sense that most masterpieces have flaws. Neither is perfect and yet the positive attributes of these insanely powerful, stunningly gorgeous cars are so good you can forgive the poor dash layout, woeful fuel economy and impracticality.
Such factors are quickly forgotten when you’re behind the wheel on an empty road, the window down and all you have is the exhaust note and your nerve to get you to the other end.
By comparison, the 560hp, 4.2sec,155mph BMW M6 was overwhelmed by these divas. Even with its satin silver paint job and concave black-chromed wheels, it’s clearly not going to win the beauty prize. It’s a handsome car, with its sucked-in curves and deep spoilers, but it won’t be the one going home with the winner’s sash in this company.
Part of the problem is its weight. At 4500 lb it’s portly, if remarkably rigid. However, it has to carry an extra 900 lb more than the SLS from corner to corner, demanding more of its acceleration, braking and overall grip.
Where the M6 scored was in comfort and practicality. It’s a car that draws less attention, offers more space, more accessible technology, and more accessible performance. With 500 lb-ft of torque available from 1500-5750rpm, the twin-turbo motor is very tractable, and its multifaceted transmission can be set just how you want it: mild or wild, to match your mood.
When faced with the price of the other two vehicles, the M6 was the logical choice of the bunch. It would be equally as good for a weekend getaway with your lady, as a blast down through your favorite canyon. It’s even great in traffic.
Despite its chunky disadvantage, the M6 appeared almost as fast as the SLS in a straight line, and had a slight advantage over the Aston.
BMW found a way to make the M6 really handle, but driven in convoy with these sports cars you were fully aware of the ballast being lugged around each corner.
Costing almost half as much as the SLS and one-third of the DBS, the M6 wasn’t a car we expected to live in this realm. And yet it did. It could stay in touch with both of them on almost any road while being far less expensive to buy, service and run.
Unfortunately, when picking teams it would be the one left on the sideline until last. When grabbing the keys, they were the ones left for the slower witted. Getting behind the wheel was like taking one for the team. Yet once you got underway, the M6 didn’t seem like a punishment.
Perhaps predictably, the BMW finished in last place. To be honest, it was set up for failure. How could it compete with these supercars? And yet, it’s a winner because not only could it compete on the road but it defeated the opposition in terms of everyday practicality.
Buying the M6 would be the smart move, the intelligent choice. However, you don’t buy a convertible sports car with the right side of your brain; it’s an emotional decision based on imperceptibles.
Put to the vote, the SLS was our favorite 2-1 for its visceral appeal. It’s unearthly engine note won a lot of fans, the acres of flat-silver hood, the tight proportions and the racecar handling.
The remaining vote was mine: the deciding vote, in this instance. I gave it to the Aston, partly because it isn’t perfect, partly because I could forgive it almost anything.
Anything that looks this good has to go to the top of the pile but, more importantly, the car makes you feel special.
It’s a cliché, but you feel like 007. The DBS Volante Carbon Edition brings an element of theatre to every journey. People wave at you or stop to talk, drivers come in for a closer look. But that’s not why it’s special, that simply confirms the feel-good factor is shared by everybody.
Yes, the electronics are dated, there’s not much luggage space, and it’s damn thirsty when using all 12 cylinders hard. However, the DBS works in harmony with you. It doesn’t fight you, the suspension isn’t trying to bounce you off the road, there aren’t lots of distractions to take you away from the mission at hand.
Put it in D, select comfort mode and wind your way home. Or pull back on the shift paddle, select Sport and have some old-fashioned fun in a chassis that communicates what’s happening to the front wheels and the rear.
In my mind, the SLS felt clinical in comparison, the M6 a little ordinary. Yet we’re only talking fractions, and each will perform most tasks with relish. But if you want every journey to feel cinematic, and you don’t mind what it costs, the Aston Martin DBS is the car for that task.
||2013 Aston Martin DBS Volante Carbon Edition
||2013 Mercedes-benz SLS AMG Roadster
||2013 BMW M6 Convertible
||Longitudinal front-engine, rear-wheel drive
||Longitudinal front-engine, rear-wheel drive
||Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
||5.9L V12 DOHC 48v
||6.2L V8 DOHC 32v, variable valve timing, variable intake manifold, dry sump
||4.4L V8 DOHC 32v S63Tü M TwinPower bi-turbo, twin-scroll turbos, cross-bank exhaust manifold, individual throttle bodies, Valvetronic variable valve control, Double VANOS valve timing
||rear-mounted Touchtronic 2 six-speed automatic
||AMG seven-speed Speedshift DCT rear transaxle
||seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission with Drivelogic and Active M differential
||double wishbone suspension, ADS adaptive damping
||Double wishbone suspension all-round, adaptive damping
||double wishbones, rigid rear subframe, Dynamic Damper Control
||six-piston calipers, 15.7” rotors f, four-piston, 14.1” r
||six-piston calipers, 15.4” rotor f,four-piston, 14.2” r
||six-piston calipers, 15.7” drilled rotors f, single-piston calipers, 15.6” r
|Wheels & Tires
||20x8.5”, 245/35 R20 f, 20x11”, 295/30 R20 r
||19x9.5”, 265/35 R19 f, 20x11”, 295/30 R20 r
||19x9.5”, 265/40 ZR19 f, 19x10.5”, 295/35 ZR19 r
||510hp @ 6500rpm
||563hp @ 6800rpm
||560hp @ 6000rpm
||420 lb-ft @ 5750rpm
||479 lb-ft @ 4750rpm
||500 lb-ft @ 1500-5750rpm