This is a new Aston Martin and it revives the Virage name. Fortunately it looks nothing like the old Virage, but some will be disappointed that it looks very much the DB9 on which it’s based (which means it also looks quite a lot like the rest of Aston’s range).
So what is it? Well, it neatly plugs the gap between the suave DB9 and the slightly unhinged DBS and also ushers in improvements in refinement learnt from the Rapide project. The Virage costs £150,000 or around £160,000 for the Volante version.
So what sort of car is the Aston Martin Virage?
That huge price of entry gets you a gorgeous GT car with a 6.0-litre V12 pushing out 490bhp, capable of 186mph and 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds – it only comes with the Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission, but of course there are paddles for proper manual shifting when the mood takes you. Power is 20bhp up on the DB9, which costs £128,150 when equipped with the same ‘box. The Virage also adds carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, a refreshed interior that thankfully waves goodbye to the hopeless old Volvo sat-nav system, and a thoroughly reworked chassis aimed at making the Virage both sharper but also more refined and cosseting.
Before we get to that I should point out that the Virage does differ in many styling details from the DB9. It has new headlights, a new five-vane grille, a carbon front splitter, new wings, and a new sill treatment that flows into a new rear diffuser. I’ll admit that should a Virage have trundled past me on the high street I wouldn’t have spotted it as a new model – but there’s no denying it looks cleaner than a DB9 and has some of the DBS’ tension in profile. No denying either that it’s a quite gorgeous thing to behold on a Spanish spring morning.
Just how refined is Aston's new Virage then?
That added sound deadening in the front and rear bulkheads and the more sophisticated ADS adaptive damping certainly make the Virage a refined car to amble along in. It doesn’t isolate like a 7-series or S-class, but then that’s not really Aston’s thing. Instead you’re aware of road surface changes, the odd bobble of scabby tarmac… but there’s enough absorption to soothe most problems away. The ZF six-speed auto is smooth and quiet and the V12 is audible (as you’d want) but adds to the sense of occasion rather than detracting from refinement.
And when you go faster?
Turn up the pace a couple of notches and the Virage is superb. It’s a heavy car but body roll is well suppressed and the front end hardly ever wilts into understeer, the brakes are stupendous and grip and traction are such that you can carry enormous speed with little fuss. Even so, you can feel the balance shifting around through a corner and as you adjust steering or throttle. With DSC in Track Mode you can even tease nice little oversteer slides from it without having to rely solely on your reactions should the unexpected happen. Sport mode tightens up the damping, creating more road noise and a noticeably firmer ride, but only builds on those qualities. The way the Virage turns in is particularly impressive. Even the automatic ‘box works well in manual, perhaps lacking the incisive shifts of a dual-clutch ‘box, but making up for that in town or when cruising along gently.
Only in really slow corners does the Virage’s 1785kg girth show (still not bad when you consider the ‘lightweight’ Maserati MC Stradale weighs 1770kg), the car snatching between understeer and oversteer quite quickly. It’ll certainly require care on streaming wet and bumpy British roads.
The Virage is great fun: more exciting and more refined than the DB9 and much more subtle than the slightly gaudy DBS. You might wonder when Aston will really show a new generation of styling, but you can hardly argue with the evolutionary approach when it yields results as good as the Virage.
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