Aston Martin Virage

Friday, 14 October 2011
Aston Martin has a difficult task on its hands. While the company has been happy of late getting by with the V8 Vantage and DB9, recent times have seen the introduction of the DBS, V12 Vantage, four-door Rapide, V8 Vantage Sport and now the Virage.

The Virage takes its place between the DB9 and the DBS and aptly so, considering the meaning of the word Virage in French is bend or curve. The Virage has been designed to be a supremely elegant and powerful, yet understated sports car and I can confidently say that it accurately meets the description.

It takes an experienced team of Aston Martin car builders some 200 hours to assemble a Virage, with around 70 hours alone spent on the bespoke leather and high quality surfaces throughout the cabin. The hand stitched leather joins are absolutely impeccable and are a perfect example of why it’s not just the badge you are paying for with an Aston Martin purchase.

Under the bonnet is Aston Martin’s 5.9-litre V12 engine. It produces 365kW and 570Nm of torque and is mated to a rear mid-mounted six-speed automatic Touchtronic 2 gearbox.

The official fuel consumption figure is 15l/100km, which was around the norm during a mix of country and city roads testing.

The outside of the Virage doesn’t share any panels with the DB9 or DBS; it is an entirely unique car in that sense. The body panels are made out of aluminium, magnesium and composite materials and even with the weight saving materials in use, the car weighs in at a portly 1785kg. The headlights feature LED running lights, LED turn signals and bi-xenon projector beams.

A One-77 inspired five vane grille at the front is only the start of the Virage’s unlimited beauty. The sculpted front end features a bonnet hump for the engine, along with two heat exhaust vents at the rear of the bonnet. Our test car was optionally fitted with 20 inch 10 spoke graphite, diamond turned alloy wheels and grey coloured brake callipers.

At the rear, you will find a similar design to the DB9, with Virage insignia in place at the top right of the boot. Clear tail lights and a different lower diffuser headline the main differences.

Unlike the exterior’s complete overhaul of panels, the interior remains a familiar place – and that’s not a bad thing. The recent DB9 interior update has been carbon copied to the Virage, providing an elegant and serene environment for the driver and passengers.
Let’s start with the blindingly obvious.

While the Virage is officially a 2+2 seat car (that’s four seats), unless your two rear passengers have relinquished the use of their legs and are no higher than four feet tall, there’s no chance of them fitting in the car. The seats are there simply as a ‘just in case’ if for some reason you need to legally transport additional passengers.

In reality, this car will generally be driven with two on board. Those lucky two will be surrounded by hand stitched leather that is immaculately presented in an almost infinite number of design options.

The amazing Bang and Olufsen sound system features two motorised 180-degree tweeters mounted to the dashboard, three sub-woofers, including a 200mm bench mounted sub-woofer, five mid-range speakers and an additional three tweeters.

The end result is an exceptionally clear and precise sound system that won’t yield to any combination of music thrown at it (trust me, I tried). Music player connectivity includes USB and a 3.5mm auxiliary jack.

Further improvements to the interior include a new Garmin high-definition satellite navigation system.

The painfully confusing Volvo system has been replaced with this engineered Garmin unit that slides away into the dash when not in use. The system is capable of traffic alerts, destination searches by phone number and economy tracking.

The electric seats with heating and lumbar and bolster adjustments are extremely comfortable for sporty driving and long distance cruising. Even after spending an entire day in the car at one point, I didn’t feel any worse off than when I started.

Stitching, sound systems and bespoke materials are completely nullified as soon as you hold the starter key (which is crafted from sapphire) to turn the 5.9-litre V12 engine over. A prolonged starter motor run is followed by an attentive bark that signals the Virage’s intentions.

As a sports car, the Virage does a great job just tootling around the city. I did my banking, shopping and went to the gym without being overly worried about parking the car or enduring a harsh ride on the journey. Visibility from the driver’s seat is exceptional and once you get an idea of the dimensions of the car, it’s no harder to park than a Ford Focus (especially with the front and rear parking sensors).

The raw and deep sound of the bellowing V12 is heard from just 2000rpm in Sport mode and reaches an ear burning crescendo as the tachometer rushes to the 6800rpm redline. While the six-speed automatic gearbox is no dual-clutch arrangement, it shifts with precise accuracy and ensures the engine makes all the right sounds during up and down shifts.

The handling package could not have been honed any better than it has with the Virage. It’s the perfect balance between poise and performance.

Stopping is equally impressive thanks to standard 398mm/360mm front/rear carbon ceramic brakes. The brake package uses six-piston callipers at the front and four-piston callipers at the rear, ensuring that brake fade will almost never be experienced on the road.

The Virage uses a carbon fibre driveshaft and a limited slip differential. In comparison to a steel driveshaft, carbon fibre driveshaft benefits include a lower rotational mass, a considerable reduction in weight, a lower torsional spring rate and an almost perfect elastic memory (meaning that the driveshaft won’t become permanently partially deformed over time).

The hardest part about my job is putting cars into perspective, whether it’s a Holden Barina or whether in this case an Aston Martin Virage. I can say wholeheartedly and without a shadow of doubt that the Virage is the best vehicle on sale in the Aston Martin range today. It’s a perfect split balance between luxury and performance.

It’s built for the discerning individual that doesn’t mind assaulting corners on occasion, but wants to be able to drive daily without the arduous rigmarole of a supercar.

Starting from $371,300, the Virage represents excellent value for money and ensures exclusivity and unmatched appeal. The only decision left to make is whether you prefer your Godly audio file to be delivered with a hard top or a soft top.

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