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Aston Martin’s £127,000 Vantage Roadster is fast -and in more ways than one

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aston martins 127000 vantage roadster is fast and in more ways than one

Aston Martin’s new Vantage Roadster not only offers a top speed of 190mph but also stakes a claim to have the fastest operating convertible roof in the business.

The £127,000 Vantage is the baby supercar in the Aston range and now comes as a convertible option for those who want a high-performance motor and to also be seen driving one.

The first examples to come off the Gaydon production line arrived in time for us to test the new Vantage in the final sunshine rays of September’s Indian summer before the long autumnal drag into winter and the sub-7-second roof mechanism gets a few months of rest.

Taking ad-Vantage of the Indian summer: We've been among the first to test drive Aston Martin's new convertible baby supercar, with the Vantage Roadster arriving on UK roads while the extended period of sunshine still graces the UK

Taking ad-Vantage of the Indian summer: We've been among the first to test drive Aston Martin's new convertible baby supercar, with the Vantage Roadster arriving on UK roads while the extended period of sunshine still graces the UK

Taking ad-Vantage of the Indian summer: We’ve been among the first to test drive Aston Martin’s new convertible baby supercar, with the Vantage Roadster arriving on UK roads while the extended period of sunshine still graces the UK

We took the Vantage for a spin in the equally glorious Warwickshire countrywide – Shakespeare Country – using the exceptionally popular petrolhead pit-stop Caffeine and Machine in Ettington, near Stratford-upon-Avon and just a stone’s throw from Aston’s headquarters, as a socially-distanced and Covid-19-compliant base for the day. 

Aston says the new Vantage Roadster convertible combines ‘uncompromising performance with pure emotion’ – but, with first deliveries about to start, does it live up to the billing?

It certainly turns a few heads when you fire the powerful and throaty 4.0-litre, 510 horsepower, twin-turbo V8 engine into action – the same powerplant that graces the coupe, which is some £6,000 less expensive than the Roadster.

Ray Massey poses with the £127,000 Aston Martin ahead of our first drive in the top-down sports car

Ray Massey poses with the £127,000 Aston Martin ahead of our first drive in the top-down sports car

Ray Massey poses with the £127,000 Aston Martin ahead of our first drive in the top-down sports car

It certainly turns a few heads when you fire the powerful and throaty engine into action

It certainly turns a few heads when you fire the powerful and throaty engine into action

It certainly turns a few heads when you fire the powerful and throaty engine into action

Like many sports cars of this ilk, you simply unleash anywhere near the full potency of the Vantage Roadster's performance while guaranteeing keeping hold of your UK driving licence

Like many sports cars of this ilk, you simply unleash anywhere near the full potency of the Vantage Roadster's performance while guaranteeing keeping hold of your UK driving licence

Like many sports cars of this ilk, you simply unleash anywhere near the full potency of the Vantage Roadster’s performance while guaranteeing keeping hold of your UK driving licence

The eight-cylinder motor is a powerful beast. So much so that on the UK’s public highways you will barely ever get to do it justice.

It’s linked to a slick 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox, and when you plant the throttle into the carpet, the car rushes to 60mph from a standstill in just 3.7 seconds. 

That might be 0.2 seconds slower than the hard-top Coupe, but it feels quicker with the roof in the lowered position and the rapid acceleration rearranging your hair style while the V8 howls in full orchestral crescendo.

But once you’ve hit the legal speed limit in four seconds, where do you go from there?

If you have a de-restricted German Autobahn or use of a private track – and the nerve, of course – at your disposal, it’ll reach a top speed of up to 190mph with the roof raised.  

The roof is among the quickest to open and close on the market today, opening and closing in less than 7 seconds

The roof is among the quickest to open and close on the market today, opening and closing in less than 7 seconds

The roof is among the quickest to open and close on the market today, opening and closing in less than 7 seconds

'Even in winter conditions, it's worth winding the heater up to the max and enjoying the alfresco driving experience,' says Ray

'Even in winter conditions, it's worth winding the heater up to the max and enjoying the alfresco driving experience,' says Ray

‘Even in winter conditions, it’s worth winding the heater up to the max and enjoying the alfresco driving experience,’ says Ray

A small nudge of the throttle pedal and the explosive acceleration reaction is lightening quick, catapulting the open-top Aston into the distance

A small nudge of the throttle pedal and the explosive acceleration reaction is lightening quick, catapulting the open-top Aston into the distance

A small nudge of the throttle pedal and the explosive acceleration reaction is lightening quick, catapulting the open-top Aston into the distance

But it’s not just outright speed where the Vantage Roadster is an impressively fast performer. 

The roof mechanism can only be activated at speeds of up to 30mph, but once deployed will save you from an unseen downpour in less time than it takes Usain Bolt to cross the finish line of a 100-metre sprint.

Lowering the folding canvas lid with a push of switch takes the intricate system just 6.7 seconds, while putting it back up takes a fraction longer at 6.8 – still short enough to keep your lap dry in a thunderstorm. 

Suffice to say it’s lovely and snug with the roof up, with the fabric lid doing a great job of cancelling out road rumble and wind noise. 

But why waste a soft-top? Even in winter conditions, it’s worth winding the heater up to the max and enjoying the alfresco driving experience.

Even with the roof down, clever design negates a lot of the wind noise taking over the interior acoustics – so much so that you can hold a conversation with a passenger without having to raise your voice too much – granted you haven’t got your foot planted on the accelerator and the V8 at full chorus. 

At its heart is the same  4.0-litre, 510 horsepower, twin-turbo V8 engine that graces the Coupe. It's only a fraction slower in a sprint to 62mph

At its heart is the same  4.0-litre, 510 horsepower, twin-turbo V8 engine that graces the Coupe. It's only a fraction slower in a sprint to 62mph

At its heart is the same  4.0-litre, 510 horsepower, twin-turbo V8 engine that graces the Coupe. It’s only a fraction slower in a sprint to 62mph

We spent most of our test route cruising in the friendliest of the three adaptable driving modes, Sport. This provides thrills when you want them but won't draw unwanted attention driving through town

We spent most of our test route cruising in the friendliest of the three adaptable driving modes, Sport. This provides thrills when you want them but won't draw unwanted attention driving through town

We spent most of our test route cruising in the friendliest of the three adaptable driving modes, Sport. This provides thrills when you want them but won’t draw unwanted attention driving through town

It’s lovely and snug with the roof up, with the fabric lid doing a great job of cancelling out road rumble and wind noise

It’s lovely and snug with the roof up, with the fabric lid doing a great job of cancelling out road rumble and wind noise

It’s lovely and snug with the roof up, with the fabric lid doing a great job of cancelling out road rumble and wind noise

Also down to personal choice is how the Vantage Roadster behaves on the road.

Depending on mood or activity, owners have can specially a tuned-in driving mode that corresponds with how they’re feeling or the road they’re driving on.

The selection are all – unsurprisingly – performance orientated, with Sport, Sport+ and Track modes, which offer progressively increased responsiveness and excitement in the order listed.

We initially had the setting wound back to Sport, which is a more than ample base setting if you don’t want to be shifting modes all the time. 

But switching it via the steering wheel controls into Sport+ ratchets it up a significant notch, tightening the sinews, boosting the cacophony of sound and creating a real rumble in the asphalt jungle. 

A small prod of the throttle pedal and the explosive acceleration reaction is lightening quick, catapulting the open-top Aston into the distance on a straight road.

Will it fit in my garage? 

33476760 8759159 image a 29 1600770148327

33476760 8759159 image a 29 1600770148327

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster

Style: two-door, two-seater convertible

Price: from £126,950

(a £12,100 premium over the Coupe)

On sale: now

First delivers: Autumn 2020

Built: Gaydon, Warwickshire

Length: 4465mm

Width (including mirrors): 2152mm 

Height: 1273mm

Wheelbase: 2704mm

Weight: 1628kg (60kg more than Coupe)

Top speed: 190mph (compared to 195mph for coupe)

Acceleration: 0-60mph: 3.7 seconds (compared to 3.5 seconds for coupe)

0-62mph: 3.8 seconds.

Engine: 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8

Power: 510 horse-power (PS) / 503bhp 

Gears: 8-speed automatic ZF

Wheels: 20-inch 10 spoke. Pirelli P Zero tyres

Average fuel consumption: 24.4mpg

Fuel tank capacity: 73 litres

CO2 emissions: 262g/km

Fabric Z-fold roof: Lowered: 6.7 seconds Raised: 6.8 seconds Both at speeds of up to 31mph

Luggage capacity: 200 litres (enough for golf bag)

But it also focuses the handling, with the suspension feeling more hunkered and reactive to the most minute of adjustments of the steering wheel.

Changing direction with neck-jarring response with the wind gusting over your head, the exposed sensation to G-forces makes it feel like your in an aerobatic stunt plane rather than glued to the road.  

Though this does come at the compromise of ride comfort, with the stiffer setup heightening your senses when it comes to Britain’s somewhat rippled tarmac and turning your backside into a pothole postcode data collector you want to download to the local authority’s road repairs department.

Not having access to a circuit during the UK launch event, we wimped out of putting it into its ultimate Track mode, though given the potent performance of Sport+ we can only imagine an increase in brutality of the responsiveness to feel like a full-blooded gym workout.

But you can argue that the Vantage Roadster is as much a cruising – and posing – machine as it is an apex-clipping sports car. 

While it can be as unruly as you want it to be on twisting b-roads, it’s also well-mannered around town. 

We burbled sedately through the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon for a bit of top-down posturing in the most modest of the driving modes. 

Had it not been for the striking good looks – of the car – the sedated V8 soundtrack barely raised suspicion of there being a supercar in close proximity. 

And it’s at this pace where the Roadster makes far more sense than the hard-top Vantage Coupe, coming into its own as a compact GT car where you can enjoy the driving sensations and the surrounding scenery dating by your head all in one. 

Despite the extra engineering required to keep the topless car stiff and safe on the road, the new Roadster weighs 1,628kg, just 60kg more than the Coupe, thanks in part to the lighter folding roof mechanism and revisions throughout to the chassis and exterior. 

The one disappointment for me is that the manual seven-speed gearbox now offered as an option on the Coupe won’t be available for the Roadster, which limits its appeal as a proper driver’s car.

And even with an automatic transmission choosing the gears for you, it’s a thirsty beast – averaging just 24.4 miles to the gallon with hefty CO2 emissions of 262g/km.

With a starting price from £126,960, it’s far from cheap and a hefty premium on the Coupe version, which is a full £12,000 less expensive with the manual gearbox – though the price difference is halved with the auto transmission.

As you might expect, the interior is beautifully clad with high quality leather and robust mental switches and paddles

As you might expect, the interior is beautifully clad with high quality leather and robust mental switches and paddles

As you might expect, the interior is beautifully clad with high quality leather and robust mental switches and paddles

The driving modes can be adjusted at the toggle of a switch on the steering wheel

The driving modes can be adjusted at the toggle of a switch on the steering wheel

The driving modes can be adjusted at the toggle of a switch on the steering wheel

With the roof down, the design still negates a lot of the wind noise taking over the interior acoustics. You can hold a conversation with a passenger without having to raise your voice too much - as long as you haven't got your foot planted on the accelerator

With the roof down, the design still negates a lot of the wind noise taking over the interior acoustics. You can hold a conversation with a passenger without having to raise your voice too much - as long as you haven't got your foot planted on the accelerator

With the roof down, the design still negates a lot of the wind noise taking over the interior acoustics. You can hold a conversation with a passenger without having to raise your voice too much – as long as you haven’t got your foot planted on the accelerator

And expect to pay much more if you add bespoke sport and luxury extras such as sports-plus seats and carbon-fibre interiors. 

While it might be pricier than the Coupe, it’s not less practical. 

A low ‘stack-height’ of the roof means the Roadster can maintain its svelte profile and aerodynamic integrity, says Aston Martin, while also having minimal impact on luggage space.

The boot, while far from massive, has 200-litres of capacity in total – enough to stow a full-sized golf bag plus accessories. 

In an ideal world, I’d pick the Roadster with a manual ‘box for the best combination of enjoyment and engagement. But even without the stick shift, the convertible still wins me over with the added drama it brings.

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Tesla on track to deliver 500,000 cars despite Covid

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tesla on track to deliver 500000 cars despite covid

Tesla smashed through Wall Street’s expectations as it released its thirdquarter results last night.

The electric car maker said revenue rose to a record £6.7billion from £4.8billion a year earlier — well ahead of the £6.4billion analysts had pencilled in.

And its profit hit £534million for the three month period, higher than estimates of £404million. 

Electric car maker Tesla, led by Elon Musk (pictured) said revenue rose to a record £6.7bn from £4.8bn a year earlier - well ahead of the £6.4bn analysts had pencilled in

Electric car maker Tesla, led by Elon Musk (pictured) said revenue rose to a record £6.7bn from £4.8bn a year earlier - well ahead of the £6.4bn analysts had pencilled in

Electric car maker Tesla, led by Elon Musk (pictured) said revenue rose to a record £6.7bn from £4.8bn a year earlier – well ahead of the £6.4bn analysts had pencilled in

Tesla, led by maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk, had already reported that it delivered 139,300 vehicles during the quarter — a record.

But if it is to meet its goal of delivering half a million cars in 2020 — a target it has stuck to despite Covid — it must send out more than 181,600 vehicles in the last three months of the year.

Tesla said last night that it would still meet the target, but that it was becoming increasingly difficult. 

But shares still jumped more than 2 per cent in afterhours trading as investors who were worried about Tesla’s ability to hit targets had their concerns eased.

Adam Vettese, an analyst at investment platform eToro, said: ‘Tesla’s skyhigh valuation will be causing some investors to worry. 

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34681090 0 image a 12 1603314780135

Paying a premium for a stock isn’t necessarily an issue but it does mean that the electric car giant will need to keep shifting through the gears if it is to avoid a share sell-off.’

The Tesla figures came after an update from Netflix disappointed investors. 

The streaming giant added 2.2m paid subscribers around the world in the three months to the end of September. 

That was the weakest growth rate in four years and compared with the 15.8m paying customers it gained between January and March as the Covid-19 pandemic forced people to stay home.

Netflix shares almost 7 per cent – wiping £12.3billion off the value of the company. However, it was still worth more than £160billion having seen its shares rise more than 50 per cent this year.

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Steelworkers cheer £2bn pension deal: 30,000 set for retirement boost 

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steelworkers cheer 2bn pension deal 30000 set for retirement boost

Thousands of steelworkers will be hoping to receive a boost to their pension pots following a £2billion deal.

Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme and take responsibility for more than 30,000 workers’ retirement funds.

The scheme was dumped into the Government’s pensions lifeboat, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), after former owner Tata Steel restructured its business in 2017.

Pensions rescue: Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme

Pensions rescue: Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme

Pensions rescue: Specialist insurance provider Pension Insurance Corporation has agreed to buy out the Old British Steel Pension Scheme

The PPF spent more than two years analysing it and in the spring concluded its funding was more robust than expected. 

This meant the scheme did not need to stay in the fund and could be taken over by an insurance firm.

What members can receive by being in the PPF can differ depending on a variety of factors. 

PIC says that under the deal every pension will now be ‘at or above’ the levels that would have been received in the protection fund.

Many will take home more because the extra funding available will be distributed into their pension pots.

The arrangement has been praised by the industry and unions.

A spokesman for steelworkers’ union Community said: ‘This is welcome news as it means many scheme members should be better off than they would otherwise have been.

‘The buy-in supports what the trade unions have always said, that the British Steel Pension Scheme was a well funded scheme that could not be allowed to collapse into the PPF.’

An industry source said the deal would be ‘like Christmas’ for those who had been expecting to receive the PPF’s terms.

But PIC has not revealed any details. It has not said who will get more than they would have done had the scheme remained in the protection fund, or how much any uplift might be.

Those in the scheme will not find out what they are owed until the deal completes at the end of next year. About half of the 30,000 members receive a pension.

PIC has around £48billion in assets and manages pension schemes for the likes of BHS, Cadbury and the London Stock Exchange Group. 

It is tightly regulated but if it runs into difficulties, its shareholders, which include the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and South Africa’s wealthy Rupert family, will be forced to pay up and cover the costs of the pensions. 

If PIC were to collapse, then all members’ pensions would be covered fully by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Jonathan Hazlett, managing director of Open Trustees, which is running the scheme, said: ‘Whilst the PPF provides a valuable safety net and a significant level of protection, many members will now receive higher benefits than they might otherwise have expected had the scheme entered the protection fund.’

The British Steel pension scheme is not related to British Steel, the company that operates steelworks in Scunthorpe and bought out of liquidation by Chinese group Jingye.

The pension scheme dates back to 1967 when it covered employees at the former British Steel, which then became Corus in the 1990s before being sold to India’s Tata Steel in 2007.

Tata, which operates the sprawling Port Talbot plant in South Wales, wanted to sell its UK business in 2016 but agreed to keep it on following an outcry from ministers and unions.

The retirement scheme had been a millstone around Tata’s neck and it eventually struck an agreement to hold on to its UK arm in return for a major restructuring of its pensions liabilities.

Under the deal, Tata agreed to shut the final salary pension scheme and replace it with a less generous alternative. 

Tata also injected a £550million lump sum into the fund and gave the PPF a 33 per cent stake in its UK business.

Most of the British Steel Pension Scheme’s 120,000 or so members chose to transfer into a new fund in 2018.

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£12bn wiped off Netflix with fewer customers joining over the summer

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12bn wiped off netflix with fewer customers joining over the summer

More than £12billion was wiped off the value of Netflix last night after fewer customers joined the streaming service over the summer.

The company added 2.2m paid subscribers around the world in the three months to the end of September as it released Enola Holmes, The Devil All the Time and Emily in Paris.

That was the weakest growth rate in four years and compared with the 15.8m paying customers it gained between January and March as the Covid-19 pandemic forced people to stay home. 

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34678608 0 image a 12 1603310173946

French connection: Emily in Paris is the streaming giant’s latest hit show. But it was not enough to reverse the downturn in the number of new subscribers

Netflix shares fell almost 7 per cent – wiping £12.3billion off the value of the company.

However, it was still worth more than £160billion having seen its shares rise more than 50 per cent this year.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, Snap shares surged more than a third higher after the Snapchat messaging app owner posted better-than-expected figures as more people signed up to chat with friends and family during the pandemic.

The results boosted shares in Facebook and image sharing company Pinterest. Netflix ended the third quarter with 195.2m global streaming customers. 

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34676286 8865149 image a 3 1603305382021

‘Next time we get together, we should be over 200m members,’ co-chief executive Reed Hastings told analysts. 

Netflix forecast in the fourth quarter it would bring in 6m new subscribers around the globe, short of the 6.51m that analysts expected.

It is trying to win customers and fend off competition as viewers embrace online entertainment. 

Netflix acknowledged that competition was increasing as studios across Hollywood from Walt Disney to AT&T’s WarnerMedia have restructured to compete more directly for video subscribers.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Subscriber growth was always going to stall this quarter, but it’s stuttered more than expected.’

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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