Recommended. Aston Martin adds the Virage between the DB9 and DBS. It's no half way house though - the Virage is the best of the three.
Tested: March 2011
There are few real surprises in the car industry, but Aston pulled off a genuine one at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show when it unveiled the Virage. With its styling only mildly tweaked over its DB9 relative the new Aston was quickly overlooked at a show where an all-new Ferrari and Lamborghini were among the debuts. Ignoring the Virage, though, is to do a disservice to the extensive work Aston has done to create this car.
Reviving a badge last used in the early 1990s, the Virage slots in between the existing, recently facelifted DB9 and more extreme DBS. Its specification underlines its position in the range, with its 6.0-litre V12 increasing marginally in power to produce a maximum output of 490bhp.
With a shape as universally revered as the DB9 to begin with, Aston's designers have been understandably subtle with the styling revisions. There are headlamps borrowed from the Rapide, situated in re-profiled front wings. Around the back there's a new rear bumper and exhaust housing, while the Virage's flanks feature a more definite swage line under the doors and more obvious vents in the front wings. Large 20-inch alloy wheels with Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes behind them complete the visual changes outside.
The interior follows the same improvement agenda, with minor tweaks adding up to a more cohesive whole. The single biggest leap forward though is the adoption of an entirely new Aston Martin and Garmin developed sat nav system. It replaces the horrifically outdated system that remains elsewhere in Aston's range.
It's under the skin where the Virage really exhibits the work Aston has undertaken to develop this new car. The newly developed Adaptive Damping System is a revelation, with its supple ride yet brilliant control allowing the Virage to carry its easily gained pace with impunity. It does so while retaining the grand touring credentials of its DB9 relation, while adding some of the more intoxicating pace and involvement of the DBS. Job done then.
Re-calibrated stability and traction systems and suspension that constantly monitors the road creates a car with the rare combination of fine handling and a supple ride. The steering is immediate and got some feel at its rim, while the stability and traction systems only intervene when they really need to. A very rounded, capable and enjoyable car.
Riding with quite uncommon quality given its focus, the Virage retains the grand touring credentials of the DB9. The easy power, beautifully finished driving environment and comfortable seats make the Virage a very pleasant place in which to while away miles.
The DB9 on which the Virage is based wasn't without its troubles at launch, but it's improved as the model has matured. There's nothing radically new with the Virage - so you can buy with confidence.
Six-litres, 12-cylinders, 490bhp and 420lb ft of torque finds its way to the road via a slick paddle-shifted six-speed automatic transmission to allow the Virage to reach 62mph in 4.6 seconds. Keep the toe in and it'll reach 186mph. Plenty then.
With the Rapide now fulfilling the four-seater role in the Aston Martin line up you can stop kidding yourself it's practical and specify the optional sports bucket seats and lose the rear pews for more useful luggage space. It's not hugely commodious inside, but if you're this minted you've got other transport for when your friends are around.
Anything hand built, costing around £150,000 and powered by a V12 engine is going to be cripplingly expensive to run for mere financial mortals. If you can't afford to buy it without missing the money from your account then the running costs will leave you weeping.
Five stars for a £150k car? Looked at against the DB9 and the DBS it looks like very good value. Not only does it look better than both, but it's a far better drive than either. Throw in those standard Carbon Ceramic Matrix brakes and the improved sat nav and you can argue that the Virage is a relative bargain.
A brilliant stereo is standard, though the controls are a bit fiddly. The new sat nav is a revelation compared to the clunky old system Aston Martin used to offer.