From £149,995
The open-top version of Aston’s new GT suffers few compromises compared with coupé

Our Verdict

Aston Martin Virage
The Virage sits between the DB9 and DBS in the Aston Martin range

The Aston Martin Virage is a very good car, but it could have been a great one

  • First Drive

    Aston Martin Virage Volante

    The open-top version of Aston’s new GT suffers few compromises compared with coupé
  • First Drive

    Aston Martin Virage

    Although there may be a whiff of familiarity about the Virage, this is, without question, a very fine GT car

What is it?

There was a time when the words ‘Virage’ and ‘Volante’ would cause car enthusiasts to recoil in horror. Because if we’re being blunt but honest, the original car that bore this name was probably Aston Martin’s lowest moment. One magazine at the time even went so far as to describe the car as a lemon.

What’s it like?

But that was, indeed, an awful long time ago, since when Aston Martin has been reborn and reinvigorated to a point where it can take the roof off a car as well resolved as the new Virage without there being much of a compromise involved.

In fact, with the hood down and the sunshine on your face, the Volante might actually be the more desirable model of the two, what with the Virage’s new-found ambition as a wafting GT car that just so happens to have supercar levels of performance at its disposal.

Despite gaining 105kg in the transformation from coupé to convertible (taking it to a somewhat portly 1890kg overall) the Volante still has plenty of go to call upon, thanks mainly to a 490bhp 6.0-litre V12 beneath its long bonnet, plus a six-speed, paddle-shift automatic gearbox through which to deploy it.

On the road, neither the performance nor the driving experience as a whole feels notably different from that of the excellent Virage. And there’s no notable shake evident through the steering column or the seats, the two areas where you’d expect to detect the biggest difference.

The hood itself has been trimmed with a double layer of Thinsulate material and ensures that the Volante feels effectively like a coupé when the roof is closed. All you really notice is a whiff more wind noise than the fixed-head version and 32 litres less boot space, but otherwise it feels much like the coupé on the move.

Should I buy one?

Inevitably, the Volante drinks a little more fuel than the coupé because it’s heavier. Assuming that you can afford the £10,000 premium it demands over the closed car, though, this could be the model to go for. On the right road, in the right weather, with the right kind of attitude, you could well believe that life doesn’t get much better than in a Virage Volante.

How times change, and how far Aston Martin has come as a result.

Aston Martin Virage Volante

Price: £160,000; Top speed: 186mph; 0-62mph: 4.6sec; Economy: 18.8mpg (combined); CO2: 349g/km; Kerb weight: 1890kg; Engine: V12, 5935cc, petrol; Power: 490bhp at 6500rpm; Torque: 420lb ft at 5750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
9

22 April 2011

The Virage Volante costs about £100k more than I can actually spend for a car but I can't think to a more desirable front engined convertible on sale, making an exception for the 599 SA aperta but it's sold out.

It's also one of the few cars I prefer in coonvertible version...beatiful

23 April 2011

The old one was no doubt complete crap, but I'd still prefer it. At least it was actually an Aston Martin rather than the synthetic fakery the company masquerading as Aston Martin spits out now.

25 April 2011

[quote eseaton]The old one was no doubt complete crap, but I'd still prefer it. At least it was actually an Aston Martin rather than the synthetic fakery the company masquerading as Aston Martin spits out now.[/quote] Gosh. If the current cars are "synthetic fakes" what, in your opinion, was the last "real" Aston and how are the current cars less real? I really am curious to understand your point of view. Do you think the current cars are fakes because they are built in a world-class modern British production facility instead of in a shed by panel beaters in leather aprons? If that's the case, don't you think the world has moved on a little? Do you think they are fakes because (One-77 excepted) the cars can now be afforded by the wealthy rather than just the super-rich - the Virage Volante of twenty years ago cost hugely more in real terms than today's car. If so, is'nt that just a little snobbish?

25 April 2011

I know that was provocative. But to answer your question, I guess it would have to be the Vantage V600. Really my point is that I do not see any continuity at all between the company now and pre-Gaydon. If there is a single person who works there now who worked at the old factory I would be very surprised. Pleased, but surprised. It is not as though the company evolved to its current state. One version ceased, and another one started. I think that is why they are so obsessed with this Aston Marin "look" that runs through the whole range with almost no deviation. They don't have the confidence that normally comes with history. If Ferrari was moved to Naples and recruited a whole new team of employees, or Porsche moved to Berlin and did the same, it really wouldn't wash, and I just can't see any difference here. My trouble with the whole thing has nothing to do with price. Really it is authenticity.

25 April 2011

[quote eseaton]I do not see any continuity at all between the company now and pre-Gaydon. If there is a single person who works there now who worked at the old factory I would be very surprised. Pleased, but surprised. It is not as though the company evolved to its current state. One version ceased, and another one started. [/quote]

I apologise for intervening - your remarks are insightful. I hold the same opinion about MG and Jaguar. It's like the Bond books written by another author after Fleming's death, (more recently an exploitative sequel to the Winnie the Pooh childrens books) or the VW Veyron pretending to be all things Bugatti - they are essentially pastiche. But I cannot see how else the marques could exist without being rescued from oblivion by powerful corporations with worldwide ambitions.

25 April 2011

[quote eseaton]Really my point is that I do not see any continuity at all between the company now and pre-Gaydon.[/quote] Understand what you are saying and the V600 was probably the zenith of "old school" Astons. However, although a lot of the production workers were recruited for Gaydon many of the senior engineers and designers did move from Newport Pagnell to Gaydon. I would cite Vanquish as the common link between the two homes. It was built at Newport Pagnell (to exceptional standards) but heralded the bonded aluminium platform used in the new cars and carries the same V12 engine that is in use today. It's the missing link, between the old and new school cars. So long as they are built in Britain, I'm not sure it matters whether they are off the M1 or the M40. Doubtless a lot of DB3 owners felt that moving from Feltham to Newport Pagnell was also heresy at the time!

25 April 2011

Good words all round, and I am glad you have corrected me on some of my extreme views! I am going to the Ring with a friend who has a V12 Vantage this weekend. Perhaps my scorn will be reduced afterwards... If I feel inspired, I will comment further afterwards. I hated my first V8 Vantage experience 3 years ago, but hope to be positively surprised this time.

26 April 2011

[quote eseaton]I am going to the Ring with a friend who has a V12 Vantage this weekend.[/quote] Wow. Properly jealous now! I do hope you have a blast at the Ring. The V12 Vantage is an awesome weapon for that trip. Sorry to hear you had a bad V8 Vantage experience. The Vantage S moves the game a long way forward, I hear. It's been fun exchanging views with you. Best wishes.

TBC

3 May 2011

part of the issue that seems to plague contributers is thus, Ulrich Bez was brought in to make Aston Martin profitable by using what he learnt at Porsche and reproduce for AML; and that is exactly what he has achieved, the two marques now appear very similar if viewed from a business perspctive.

Admittedly Porsche has the advantage of having been successful for a coniderable time as opposed to Aston who are just starting to turn it around, in the long term, by developing a corporate 'look' in the way that all Porsche's have a certain 911 look to them.

Very different from the Aston of old when Sir David Brown owned it and sold each car for £1,000 less than they cost to build!

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