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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

It sounds slightly perverse to describe a car that cradles a 489bhp V12 under its bonnet as relaxed, or even lazy, but that is the overwhelming sensation as you rumble down the road in the Virage – despite the 0-60mph sprint time of 4.9sec we achieved. For the record, that time was achieved in a Volante. Both it, and the coupe, record official times of 4.6sec to 62mph. 

This isn’t meant in a derogatory way. It’s more a case that, despite the seemingly high revs required to reach peak torque and power, the Virage puts out 370lb ft at just 2000rpm and so feels delightfully over-endowed with urge, even in distinctly non-urgent use.

The dampers on the Virage use two separate valves to offer five different settings in both the normal and the more sports-oriented mode

In this sort of situation, with the gearbox in full auto mode and Sport mode off, the Virage is impressively laid back and yet absorbing transport. It’s easy to drive but never lets you forget that it’s a supercar, and that it’s just one driver input away from being fully focused on making life thoroughly dramatic.

In which state the Virage is equally rewarding. Putting all the adaptive elements to maximum attack doesn’t so much transform the Virage as wake it up. Everything becomes more alert, the exhaust baffles open earlier to incite all kinds of irresponsible behaviour, and with gearchanges controlled via the standard column-mounted paddles, the driver becomes much more involved.

Aston Martin Virage 2011-2012 news

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This ability to shift between relaxed, easy-going cruiser and a wholly more intense experience is something that differentiates the Virage from its nearest siblings, giving it a broader ability in both disciplines rather than a specialism in either. It’s marginal but still a tangible and defining element of the package, and one that’s made to work mainly because of the depth and reward on offer from the V12 motor.

Which isn’t to say that it’s flawless. The gearbox, although acceptable, is still too slow to react when you want every last ounce of performance, occasionally pausing too long and generally lacking the polish and speed that you might expect of such a high-end car.