What is it?
Its name may be familiar to anyone who can remember as far back as Aston Martin’s more prosaic Newport Pagnell era, but the Virage is, in fact, a largely new GT car from Aston, one that’s intended to plug the gap between the DB9 and the more hardcore DBS.
Priced at a whisker under £150k, it uses either an uprated version of the DB9’s 6.0-litre V12 or a mildly detuned version of the DBS’s similarly sized unit, depending which way you view such claims. Either way, it has 490bhp at 6500rpm and 420lb ft at 5750rpm at its disposal, enough to launch it to 60mph in 4.6sec and to a top speed of 186mph.
Dynamically, the Virage is not intended to be as driver-orientated as the DBS - Aston instead preferring to call it a gentleman’s GT car. Which explains why so many of the processes used to perfect the Rapide’s excellent - but more sedate - chassis and suspension have been revisited to create the underpinnings of this car.
That makes it a refined GT car first and a sporting one second – although, having said that it does feature a number of styling features that are remarkably similar to those of the DBS, even if they clothe a car that is clearly less thrusting in its personality.
What’s it like?
If you have never driven a modern VH platform Aston before, the Virage will seem sensational in just about everything it does. To put it briefly, this car has a fantastic blend of performance, handling, ride, steering and braking composure – the like of which anyone who experienced the original Virage from the 1980s will find genuinely hard to believe. But if you’re familiar with how good (and how similar in feel) Aston’s recent creations are, there will be either a reassuring sense of déjà vu or, perhaps, a tad of predictability in the way it goes down the road.
Whatever your take on the situation, the Virage represents a big improvement over the DB9 and is, in our opinion, a far better car to drive than the DBS in most ways. The lessons learned by Aston when creating the Rapide have clearly been passed on to the Virage; you can detect this from the way it rides - beautifully but also more quietly than the DBS - to the way it steers and handles. Everything about the Virage dynamically has a measured, cohesive polish to it that is strangely absent from the harder edged DBS.
And yet in real terms it is barely any slower than its more expensive cousin. The DBS may be some 100kg lighter due to its more exotic construction materials, but so much better sorted is the Virage’s chassis – and its excellent new Sportshift six-speed paddle-shift gearbox – that over give-and-take roads there would be very little in it. Yet at the same time the Virage would use less fuel, pump out less CO2 emissions and be considerably more luxuriant to travel in.
There’s even a new sat-nav system that replaces the yesteryear item of the DB9/DBS, while the rest of the interior has been styled to offer a more tasteful balance (than in the slightly vulgar DBS) between sporting and luxury. Also new are the wipers, and the carbon ceramic brakes (which are standard fitment), and the wheels and tyres that adorn them.
Should I buy one?
Were you to add the Virage’s carbon ceramic brakes alone to the spec of a DB9, this would raise the price of that car to a theoretical £135,000. If you then add the Virage’s vastly superior suspension, its more powerful engine and its extensively better-equipped cabin, the price of £150k suddenly seems like pretty good value.