Aston Martin Virage: first drive

8 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Aston Martin Virage: first drive
Aston Martin Virage

Steve Colquhoun

Aston Martin’s new Virage

Aston Martin Virage

Sports cars, by their very temperamental natures, involve pain. Stiff, unyielding suspension; rock-hard racing-style seats; acts of contortionism required just to get in – it’s all part and excruciating parcel of the enthusiast’s quest to find the right car for the right road.

Aston Martin went to work on the problem and came up with the Virage. It’s a brilliantly conceived all-rounder that can as easily be picked up by the scruff of the neck and blasted through your favourite set of tight corners as roll down to the local shops or hit the highway for an interstate trip.

It won’t break your back – but your budget may be another matter.

Starting from $371,300 (plus on-road and dealer costs) it has more and better everything than a DB9 ($353,558) for not a lot of extra outlay, and less oomph but more user-friendliness than the ballistic DBS ($477,593).

The Virage is built from the same architecture as its DB and Vantage sister cars, and shares their lightweight bonded aluminium chassis. On first glance, it’s difficult to pick some of the subtle differences that distinguish it but more triangular raked headlights, a wider grille and redesigned lower intake, subtly altered side strakes and flaring side skirts are a few clues.

Lifting the swan-wing doors – which raise by 12 degrees as they swing open to prevent accidental kerb strikes – and sitting inside, the initial impression is of opulence and quality.

Aston Martin proudly proclaims that every single surface is exactly what it appears to be, and not plastic masquerading as something else. That includes sumptuous stitched leather for the seats and dashboard (the hides of seven cows go into each car), lovingly machined aluminium, and even genuine cut glass, which creates a spectacularly opulent look for otherwise utilitarian switchgear.

A new Garmin-supplied satellite navigation system slides soundlessly out of the dashboard and boasts terrific clarity, even if some of the controls are laborious and counter-intuitive.

It’s officially listed as a 2+2 – which means it has two occasional rear seats – but don’t factor in long trips for four. Even small children would struggle to fit into the tiny but plushly appointed rear pews, and adults have no chance whatever due to the critical lack of both head and leg space.

Hitting the glass start button in the middle of the centre console, the 6.0-litre V12 comes to life with a purr rather than a bark. Engage the transmission by hitting another glass button marked D (there are also buttons for neutral, reverse and park) and the Virage demurely sets off.

The seven-speed transmission uses a single clutch mechanism, avoiding the weight penalty of a heavier dual-clutch system. Left to its own devices it shifts quickly and intuitively, or you can take control via the magnesium paddle shifters that are surprisingly fixed to the steering column rather than twirling with the wheel.

Cruising at low speed, the Virage is impressively quiet, with neither road nor engine noise particularly present. Engaging the sport button sharpens throttle response – by a small degree – but also signals the exhaust to open a bypass valve earlier to bring a glorious engine note into the cabin that’s only sullied in our test car by a whining belt noise coming from behind the firewall.

Unleashing all 365kW of power and 570Nm of torque with a decent prod of the right foot transforms the Virage from mild to wild, producing fearsome rolling acceleration for swift and decisive overtaking.

The engine is mid-mounted in the front of the car, contributing to a 50:50 weight distribution between front and rear that translates to a near-perfect balance on the road. It’s simple to flow the Virage from one corner to the next with superb front grip aiding sharp turn-in, while all that power pushes to the ground through fat rear wheels with only an occasional tiny wiggle of the Virage’s shapely hips.

Body roll is all but absent and the ride quality is nothing short of superb. The Virage wafts along as though perched on its own cloud, and even setting the dampers to sport mode adds only a degree of firmness to proceedings without sacrificing any comfort.

The carbon-ceramic brakes, which are surprisingly fitted as standard equipment, have great bite and pedal feel, although they can be quite noisy when they’re cold. The Virage’s beautifully appointed steering wheel has a resolute feel with plenty of weight and feedback for the keener driver.

The Volante, or convertible, model (from $399,797) has a fabric roof that allows a little more noise intrusion than the coupe, but it’s still well insulated. With the top down and the windblocker in place over the rear seats, the cabin remains serene and calm except for the top of my head, which sits just above the windscreen and window level.

It’s not without its vices, but the Virage is a rare example of a high-end sports car that you can live with every day.

45 comments so far

Even though I am hard pressed to tell this apart from any of the other current Astons, I bloody love it!

I ca’t help but think that at only $20k more than a DB9 and allegedly much better, that this car wll make the DB9 redundant? If I was going to spend circa $350k on a car, I’d pay the (approx.) 5% premium for a better car.

In my opinion, Aston should have differentiated this car more. Or conversely, not made it at all. It would be a fitting replacement for the now ageing DB9 for mine.

Commenter Hills Location St Ives Date and time March 23, 2011, 8:40AM

It has 2 useless rear seats, is automatic and and weighs more than a barge. Yet they feel the need to fit massive ceramic brakes normally reserved for racing cars. WHY.

Commenter COTY driver Date and time March 23, 2011, 9:55AM

For a 6 litre V12 it has less grunt than a R35 GTR and needless to say for well over twice the price. That’s pretty disappointing given the R35 has almost half the engine capacity of the Virage. GTR owners have all the more reason to pat themselves on the back.

Commenter Akuma Location wests Date and time March 23, 2011, 10:41AM

It’s an SMT, not an automatic.

It’s not a saloon, who cares about rear seats.

If anything, your percieved overweight claim is only more justification for carbon brakes which are not just reserved for race cars these days. Most of the high end marques offer then as an option at least.

At 0-100 in under 5 seconds, thats a pretty quick barge!

Commenter Paul Date and time March 23, 2011, 10:53AM

Aston Martin Virage

@COTY driver – March 23, 2011, 10:55AM

Because ceramic brakes are better. if you can fit them why wouldn’t you?

Commenter Halfamo Location Sydney Date and time March 23, 2011, 10:55AM

Aston appears to always produce stunning cars.

COTY driver: Ceramic brakes can be worked hard, for a long time without fade. Would you want a heavy, massively expensive car crashed because of brake fade? Personally, I’d cry because I’d have smashed something so beautiful.

Commenter BC Location Flemington Date and time March 23, 2011, 11:01AM

@Akuma

Lol, you do know how lame your comment looks in an article about an Aston! Im sure people that buy Aston’s dont really care about what Nissan owners think of them. Neither is winning the traffic light grand prix a priority.

On a personal note, the Virage. hmmm, im not sure on the looks. Where as it looks painfully beautiful. at the same time its looks very generic like a Jag XKR. Id still have one though!

Commenter Souljak Date and time March 23, 2011, 11:40AM

Akuma – That datsun your referring to has a turbocharged engine and is no comparison to the delightful V12 engine fitted to the Aston, and it might cost twice as much but its more than twice as good look at, has oodles more refinement and quality and did I mention how good it looks!

Commenter Ryan Location Melbourne Date and time March 23, 2011, 11:41AM

Akuma

have you compared a 10 year old GTR to a 10 year old Aston?

you can see where the R35 is going – soon to be the choice of drag car in Sydney West with Fart Cannon and Stickers

Commenter Lou Location Sydney Date and time March 23, 2011, 11:44AM

I wonder whether Michael Clarke will buy one for his newest girlfriend?

Commenter Chris Location Berwick Date and time March 23, 2011, 12:10PM

Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin Virage

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