Aston Martin

Wednesday 17th August 2011

Driven: Aston Martin Virage

We've already tried the Virage abroad, but what's it like in Blighty?

The general feeling in the PH office was that the Virage was Aston Martin's last chance. Several members of the PH team (including myself, I'll happily admit) have had (how to put this politely?) lukewarm experiences in DB9-type cars over the past couple of years and, while we love so much about Aston, we were losing a little faith.

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.

Funny thing is, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes driving the Virage such a demonstrably nicer experience. Perhaps it's the sum of a plethora of small changes. As we said when we drove the car in Spain, the Virage gets re-tuned suspension with the latest adaptive damping trickery, there are carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, and the 'Touchtronic' gearbox (a 6-speed ZF auto rather than any sort of automated manual system) has been effectively revised. There's also a sport button, which sharpens up the throttle response and gives you more eager ratios.

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.

Basically, the Virage is now dynamically the car that the DB9 has always been so close to becoming. And that's great.

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.

Likewise, the new glass buttons (instead of plastic) for the various drive options and the 'welt' stitching (which looks like piping, but is better, apparently) are an improvement over what has gone before.

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



Author: Riggers

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Last comment was by Garlick
on 2nd November 2011