For contrast, step down into the Gallardo. The drama of this car is so much more obvious, yet there is real sophistication to be uncovered. And that's at its most mighty when you're hard-charging a fast, sweeping curve in the quest to hear the V10 climax at a yelling 8200rpm. It's the Lamborghini's pulse-calming stability that's so impressive, a stability unfazed by dips, crests, a mid-bend trimming of line or even by the sudden need to brake. And its all-wheel-drive traction out of corners is chewing-gum-to-shoe grippy.
Still more striking is the Gallardo's agility, because its darting athleticism is in a different league from its challengers. It's sharp, relishes mid-bend trajectory changes and devours curves.
The Aston encourages no less ambitious advances. It feels more compact than the others (though it's not, in length and width), its conventionally sporty driving position is less intimidating, its exhaust sounds come-on wanton and its bigger paddle shifters are easier to locate in the midst of your wheel-whizzing ambition. And there'll be need for yet more whizzing if you're reckless with the ESP off, because two-wheel drive allows tail slides that are both a temptation and, with this kind of power, an intimidation.
Yet the DBS can be hustled with ease, despite steering that feels decisively less well connected than those of its rivals and feedback through a seat that does more to distance you from the action. Aboard the Lambo and even the Bentley, your sense of the road below and your interaction with it are more complete. In the Aston, you're less well connected.
There's plenty of tactile transmission aboard the Gallardo, whose messaging service is direct, instant and unequivocal. And not at the expense of ride. This is the firmest car here, even when the adjustable suspensions of Bentley and Aston are at their stoutest, but it's never uncomfortable.
The Aston is more absorbent in its normal setting, occasionally jostling in the sport mode that you'll select for a hard drive, and rarely uncomfortable. But it's restless enough to prompt shameful squeaks from the fold-out sat-nav screen and a worrisome creak from the structure.
Aboard the Bentley you have four suspension settings – unnecessary, in truth – but even in the most extreme it advances with some serenity, and the milder settings are admirably cushioning.
More likely to upset your calm is the challenge of braking in these cars. The worst is the Lamborghini; its panic pedal is so distant from your right foot that it's likely to hone your left leg braking skills. It needs a very stout shove, too. So do the Bentley and Aston, but less so, and both have sensibly positioned pedals.
Despite these foibles, and paddle shifters that are too small in both Bentley and Lambo, this trio will consume a road with rapid-attack fluency that's utterly exhilarating, more so because you can do it roofless. The whirls of air are well managed in all three, although those in the back of the Bentley are going to have their hair magnificently mussed. The Bentley's rear seats are comfortable but confined, especially for legs, but you'd need to lose those appendages to have any hope of occupying the back of the DBS. The Gallardo, of course, is for two only.
On one hugely important level, all three of these cars are winners: none is significantly compromised for being a convertible. The most astounding is the near tremor-free Bentley, while the Aston and Lambo rarely get the shudders, even if the Gallardo's doors rattle. And in every case, the removable roof deepens your enjoyment. Only if you regularly cruise at three-figure speeds would refinement issues impinge; the GTC and DBS turn noisome, hoods up, at 100mph, the Gallardo 20mph earlier.
But there are two winners here, and one loser. The Aston doesn't feel special enough for its price, does not have an extraordinary dimension to some aspect of its capabilities. It's electrifyingly quick, it makes intoxicating sounds and handles its potency with impressive aplomb. But it connects less completely with its driver, disappoints with areas of patchy finish and, in this company, fails to amaze. You could enjoy much the same experience for far less money, with a Jaguar XKR perhaps, or Aston's own V8 Vantage Roadster.
The Gallardo delivers far more vivid sensations with its speed, grip, agility and stability, explored amid a nerve-charging soundtrack. It's extreme, effective and hugely desirable, if less glossily finished than the GTC.
The Bentley is a more useful car, a car that you could use daily. But with this comes the magic of its assumption-confounding agility, refinement, power and indulgently rich high-end finish. Its appeal is vastly different from the Lamborghini's, yet you cannot say that one is better than the other. In both, you get cars to marvel at. With the Aston, sadly, you don't. Words: Richard Bremner/Autocar
Photos: Charlie Magee/Autocar