The Aston Martin DB11 Volante – for your eyes only…

The latest Aston sports car may be large but underneath that eight-layer fabric roof is a tiny cabin. A pint-sized Mini convertible actually offers more space.

This successor to the DB9 uses dashboard equipment borrowed from Mercedes, although it’s well camouflaged behind the leather and lightweight composites that line the cockpit. Designers have kept a traditional feel but this is still the most futuristic Aston Martin ever built.

Raising the roof to beat a rain shower takes 15 seconds, driving at speeds of up to 30mph. It’s quite a performance to watch and unusually for a convertible, the DB11 still looks good roof up.

A summer’s drive across country becomes an occasion in the DB11. Enthusiasts will tell you this latest version is the best driver’s car to date – and how right they are.

Steering an older Aston wasn’t for the weak limbed. Just operating the clutch required the calf muscles of a rugby player. Now even the suspension has a range of settings to suit the road surface.

GT is the softest, perfect for high speed cruising. Sport+ unleashes the DB11’s wild side and transforms the car into something of a beast. A massive 503bhp requires nerve – you have been warned.

Under that sleek bonnet is a turbocharged engine that emits a constant burble. If you need extra power there is a faster V12 version too. However, in the upper echelons of the performance car market, this V8 will be more than enough for most people.

It is a fun and rewarding car to drive across country. Unlike the coupe version, the Volante has the added bonus of a folding hood too. There’s an excellent sound system onboard but the music from the huge exhaust pipes was more than enough for me.

There are few vehicles that will give you same experience as the DB11. The new Bentley Continental GT is one, or you might consider a Ferrari 488 Spider But if you want to feel like James Bond on your days off, this is the car.

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Nissan Leaf 2018 – a sparky little number

Some manufacturers are racing to bring out their first all-electric car. This is already the second generation Leaf and it’s officially the world’s best-selling EV with 300,000 sales. Our Tekna costs £28,390 and has a plug-in 40 kWh motor that sparks up 147hp. Drive it sensibly and you might achieve the max range of 168 miles – try to reach 60mph in 7.9 seconds and you won’t. A May Bank Holiday in the lovely Leaf…

The Leaf has all the range most people will need for their daily commute. It is relatively affordable to buy and comes absolutely loaded with standard equipment.

However, not everybody will like the styling and regular motorway drivers covering hundreds of miles should look elsewhere. I also found the seats strangely uncomfortable, whatever way I adjusted them.

Cabin quality is top notch but nowhere near Golf standard. And at this price, it comes in right against the e-Golf.

The Leaf’s party piece is the e-Pedal, which can reduce brake application by 90 per cent. It allows the Nissan to be driven with just one pedal by pressing down or lifting off the accelerator to go or slow.

All that battery equipment means the Leaf should struggle with weight but it’s quite agile. The Nissan isn’t a driver’s car but you won’t feel like you are steering a lemon either.

I found it hard not to like the Leaf because it has been designed for first-time EV owners. Everything from the bonnet flap plug-in ports to the chic interior should appeal.

The Leaf is the world’s leading electric car because Nissan has sold more than any other manufacturer. But with other mainstream manufacturers joining the charging fray, it’s going to face much stiffer competition in years to come.

Rolls-Royce Ghost – handcrafted British luxury

The baby of the Rolls-Royce range is an expensive blend of old world charm and outrageous luxury. The interior combines a rash of retro buttons and switches with futuristic stuff, like a 10-inch dashboard screen and a crystal, rotary controller. If you can afford the car then urban fuel consumption of 13mpg won’t be an issue – and that’s posh, premium unleaded too. Prices start at £231,180 but you’ll want some options with that for sure. 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds with 563bhp on tap – just what you’d expect from a 6592cc V12 engine….

The Ghost may be the smallest model in the Rolls garage but it is a whopper to park around town. Unlike the larger Phantom model, the Ghost has less room in the back and usually requires the owner to actually drive it, rather than rely on a chauffeur.

This may be the entry-level Roller but buyer beware. My model came with monogrammed headrests, lambs wool floor mats and Starlight Headliner, turning the roof lining into a twinkling light display. The final bill for this and other options came to £302,000!

Rolls-Royce is owned by BMW but their cars are built at Goodwood. I soon discovered the Ghost is the ultimate blend of German engineering and British prowess – is there a finer way to drive to the office?

There’s a Black Badge ‘sporty edition of the Ghost, although why anybody would want to travel faster in their luxury saloon is a mystery to me. Effortless power was never served up in such a sublime and luxurious package.

You might imagine a car like this works best on a straight stretch of autobahn in Germany with no speed restrictions. Not so. Tipping the scales at a hefty 2.3 tons, the Ghost might wallow on a fast corner but it can still tackle a cross-country journey with pace and style.

That said, it should be an offence to push a Rolls-Royce along at such an undignified speed. Instead, I enjoyed my magic carpet ride across the Cotswolds, soaking up an aria on Classic FM with optional ventilated seats and a purple leather steering wheel.

The view down that long, sculpted bonnet is one of the finest from any motor car. The famous Spirit of Ecstasy mascot stands proud above the grille, although these days it can be lowered automatically to prevent vandals and thieves.

There is plenty of room in the back for family outings and you can bamboozle passengers by leaving them to find rear door handles. The back pair are rear hinged and work beautifully. A pair of umbrellas are hidden discreetly in the front door frames.

Driving a Ghost is a wonderful experience. Once you get over the price tag and engage with it like a ‘normal’ car, there’s nothing to fear. And the good news is modern Rolls-Royces hold their value well – another good reason to buy one.