Driven: Aston Martin Virage

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



P.H. O'meter

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Comments (44) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sinbaddio 17 Aug 2011

    Lovely looking car. At risk of sounding naive I have a few questions - will this then sit between the DB9 and the DBS? Is it a 2+2? I really hope this model sorts AM's short term issues smile

  • toppstuff 17 Aug 2011

    A lovely car. But I worry about reports of a too-firm ride quality. Of course I have yet to drive one, but surely it gives ground to Jaguar - who seem to be able to fulfill the brief of a GT car in that they can offer tight handling with decent ride quality.

    A GT car simply should'nt crash and bang.

  • Riggers 17 Aug 2011

    sinbaddio said:
    Lovely looking car. At risk of sounding naive I have a few questions - will this then sit between the DB9 and the DBS? Is it a 2+2? I really hope this model sorts AM's short term issues smile
    Our one was a 2+0, but I believe it can be a 2+2...

    ...And yes, it sits slap between DB9 and DBS. DB9= c.£120k, DBS= c.£180k. Virage = £150k

  • Garlick 17 Aug 2011

    toppstuff said:
    A GT car simply should'nt crash and bang.
    I was fortunate enough to cover 150 miles in this car and I didn't find the ride to be an issue. Take it out of sport mode and it was a very accomplished motorway cruiser. I really liked it, my favourite of the cars we took to Wilton house in fact.

  • Rawwr 17 Aug 2011

    I just wish Aston Martin would take a gamble on a design. Whenever they announce a new model I draw the shape in my mind and then play a guessing game of where they're going to stick the vents and bulges. As pretty as the shape is, it really is getting very tired now, in my everso humble blah blah blah.

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