Aston Martin Virage 2011 review
June 30, 2011
- No spare
- Pointless rear seats
$143,880 - $165,440
IT'S the eyes that get you. Pulled back teardrops that look daggers at the road, stare threateningly at other road users. The narrow, swept-back headlights come from big sister, the four-door Rapide. The use of these lenses on this car - the Virage - is more than coincidence or even cost-saving. It's the visible DNA that bonds the two latest Aston Martin models.
Virage is the most recent "V" word to wear the Aston badge and though it is undoubtedly a stunning statement in metal, its inclusion in the marque's range initially seems excessive. Aston Martin disagrees. Spokesman for the company in Australia, Marcel Fabris, says the Virage plugs any gaps in Aston Martin buyers' minds.
"It is less formidable in terms of power, transmission delivery and ride than the DBS but more on edge than the DB9." he says.
That's exactly how it feels, too. The problem isn't that there are three similar models in Aston's tight model range, but the fact that the Virage is the best. Of course that's Aston's problem - not mine.
For the price of an apartment, the Virage is excessive. Compared with other handbuilt exotica on wheels, it's not bad. You be the judge. It costs $371,300 and that's a $17,742 premium on the DB9 and yet a whopping $106,293 cheaper than the DBS. The Virage gets carbon-ceramic rotors the size of dinner plates, a superior Garmin sat-nav system that's both easier to use and clearer than Aston's previous efforts, plus 20-inch wheels and a leather-alcantara cabin.
Beautiful. Nothing is better than this and even though Jaguar gets close, the Aston DB9 styling will wear the sash and crown at any beauty pageant. Put a bikini on it and you'd marry it.Pragmatists will argue that it's a lot of car with a small cabin. Like I care.
Truthfully, there are four seats but unless you are a sadist, the Virage will carry only two people. Though perhaps the two deeply-dished and leather trimmed indents in the back would suit small children, maybe a dog. Did I mention it is beautiful?
I used to favour Aston's V8 Vantage over the DB9's V12. Basically, the V8-engined models felt more nimble and needed less correction through corners. That was then. The 5.9-litre V12 has become silkier and more responsive to the right foot. In becoming less lethargic, it has changed the dynamics of the car and in the Virage, accents more than ever how accurate this car can be punched into a corner and how balanced it sits on exit.
It packs ZF's six-speed automatic, its response times heightened by touching the "sport" button and over-riding the gearchanges with the steering wheel-mounted paddles. I prefer this box to the automated manual in the Vantage S because it is significantly smoother to drive and easier to live with while trawling the traffic lanes.
Only four airbags? For $371,300 (plus onroad costs)? No crash-safety rating? Are you being ripped off, thrust into an unsafe car that can rip black marks down a road at blinding speeds yet may have the impact protection of a Vespa. Manufacturers of exotica tend not to hand over a car to crush. So it's hard to offer a safety benchmark without comparatives. You be the judge.
The car has been around for about six years. If it was any other make, it'll be over the hill by now. But the Virage - nee DB9 and DBS - is still freshly styled and competitive both in performance and price.
It's just that I am not excited by looking at the same dashboard, year after year. Perhaps I long for a gearshifter to plunge forward and back in tune with various engine screams, rather than politely press acrylic buttons on the upper dashboard. But I will never, never lose the thrill of that eruption when the V12 fires up in the morning.
Get over the scary fact that there's a long bonnet out there and that curious fellow motorists may want to come closer for a better look and you can quickly become used to the way the Virage cossets the driver.
The seats wrap and warm the body, the steering wheel falls firmly to hand and the magnesium shifters sprouting from behind the steering wheel click audibly at the touch of your fingers. It's a sensory ride.
Sports car suspension - such as the DBS - is usually abrupt and harshly stabs the kidneys. The Virage is softer, with push-button adjustment from firm-ish to really firm, depending on your mood, the road, the weather and your kidney's condition.
Everything about the car is pin sharp - it turns instinctively, reacts instantly to your lightest touch and is always pumping out that rich V12 yowl.
Yes, Aston. You make beautiful cars. Now get over it - only a handful of us can afford this. It's a selfish two-seater (plus dog and cat) made for deserted winding roads in cool climates. Aston has a few on the boat and they're all sold - mostly at the expense of the DBS that may be a bit too hardcore for city driving. The Virage is Aston's big-coupe future and more than the other Aston Martin models, follows the owner-friendly line of the Rapide.
ASTON MARTIN VIRAGE
Warranty: 3 years, 100,000km, roadside assist
Service interval: 15,000km or 12 months
Economy: 15.5 l/100km; 367g/km CO2
Safety equipment: four airbags, ESC, ABS, EBD, EBA, TC.
Crash rating: N/A
Engine: 365kW/570Nm 5.9-litre V12 petrol
Transmission: Six-speed sequential automatic
Body: 2-door, 2+2 seats
Dimensions: 4703 (L); 1904mm (W); 1282mm (H); 2740mm (WB)
Tyres: size (ft) 245/35R20 (rr) 295/30R20, no spare tyre
$143,880 - $165,440