But we'd heard good things of the Virage (not least from a certain Mr Steve Sutcliffe), so we were hopeful.
And you know what? It didn't disappoint. In fact everyone in the PH team who drove it, almost without exception, declared it the best Aston they'd driven for ages - better than a DB9, better even than a DBS.
Like we said, they're all small changes, but they add up to make the Virage an assured, engaging GT car, one that's both fun and refined. If there's one flaw in its dynamic range, it's that the ride can be a bit uncompromising on the bumpiest of B-roads. Oh, and if we're being truly pernickety there's more wind noise around the door mirrors and A-pillars than you might expect of a GT car, but these are more niggles than criticisms.
The same is arguably true of the design. The new sills, tweaked bow and stern, and redesigned headlights help sharpen-up the looks (to these eyes at least) most effectively. If the basic shape hadn't been around for so long it would be easy to be bowled over by it. Inside, too, it's a case of subtle, but significant, improvement.
The switchgear and infotainment system isn't really the most intuitive of beasties, for example, but the new sat-nav, developed in conjunction with Garmin, is a dramatic improvement over the elderly Volvo-derived unit Aston drivers previously had to endure.
In short, the Virage is a fine update of Aston Martin's VH architecture. Aston privately admits that, although the DB9 will continue on sale, the Virage is likely to usurp a large proportion of its sales. On the basis of our time with the new car, we can fully understand why that might be.
Pics: George F Williams