Aston Martin Virage coupe (2011 – 2012) review
Read the Aston Martin Virage coupe (2011 - 2012) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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If the DB9 is a head turning work of automotive art then the Aston Martin Virage is an absolute masterpiece. The changes are subtle, but details like the re-profiled grille, revised wings and the new headlamps all combine to create an edgier, more contemporary take on the DB9’s elegant lines. Not hugely adventurous stuff from Aston Martin admittedly, but enough to allow the Virage fulfil its role as the middle-ground between the DB9 and DBS. Sat alongside a DB9, the Virage is tauter and more chiselled, though it manages to eschew the DBS’s rather extrovert, somewhat aftermarket styling.
Like the exterior there are few real surprises inside the Virage for those used to the cabin of a DB9. That does mean there is plenty of beautifully finished leather, high gloss wood and brushed metal. Unsurprisingly, it’s styled particularly neatly, Aston’s mix of materials particularly nicely judged – even the Volvo-sourced air vents. It might be easy on the eye, but aside for the obvious big push buttons for the automatic transmission – the Virage not being offered with a manual – the smaller controls are a bit fiddly.
The specification says 2+2, but you’ll need to be flexible and small to fit in the rear of the Virage. Best then not to bother trying and instead specify the optional hard-backed sports seats. This means losing the rear seats altogether and using the shelves for additional luggage space. The boot will take a golf bag or two, but getting them in won’t be particularly easy. Soft bags are best for the boot then. In the cabin there’s decent oddment storage, though the glovebox isn’t huge – think sunglasses and iPod only.
Ride and handling
Riding on the same basic suspension of the DB9 but with a few revisions to make it sharper, the Virage is supple but exceptionally well controlled. It rides on an adaptive damping system that manages this tricky balance, though in Sport mode the ride goes from taut to too-stiff for our crumbling roads. Reduced unsprung mass thanks to lighter standard carbon ceramic brake discs help the Virage ride so well – they also stop it very effectively. The steering is quick and nicely weighted and the electronic stability control systems intervention levels are high enough to enjoy the Virage’s ample power.
The Virage’s 6.0-litre V12 engine’s output is a healthy 490bhp, which allows it to reach 62mph in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 186mph. It’s only offered with Aston Martin’s TouchTronic gearbox, which can be either left alone or shifted via steering column mounted paddles. It’s a quick, smooth shifter, while the V12’s ample mid and low range torque is backed up with real high-rev fireworks when you’re in a hurry. It sounds great, though it’s better from the side of the road than within. Fast, yet not as fearsome as the DBS, the Virage is a consummate all-rounder.
Aston Martins aren’t cheap to buy, so don’t expect them to be cheap to run. The 6.0-litre V12 engine in the Virage develops more power than the DB9’s, which suggests it’ll consume a bit more fuel. Aston hasn’t revealed official figures as yet, but expect everyday driving to result in consumption of around 12-15mpg. Fuel aside, servicing, insurance and road tax won’t be inexpensive either.
The DB9, which this Virage is heavily based on, has been around for a while now, and although it’s not got a blemish-free reliability record Aston Martin has improved in recent years. That should mean the Virage offers relatively trouble-free motoring. The company’s recent endurance racing success underlines the durability of the mechanicals.
Like its DB9 relative the Virage comes with electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes, front and side driver and passenger airbags and seatbelt pretensioners among its standard safety equipment. If you opt for the sports bucket seats you lose not only the rear seats, but the side airbags, too. The Virage hasn’t been independently crash tested, but its long nose, front engined layout and stiff extruded aluminium structure should mean it’s safe should the worst happen.
Equipment is where the Virage really aces its DB9 relative. Along with the additional power and poise the Virage gains powerful and lightweight carbon ceramic brakes as standard, while the hopeless Volvo-sourced sat-nav is replaced by an all-new system developed by Aston Martin and Garmin. Add in the usual luxury refinements you’d expect for this money – leather, electrically operated seats etc. – and the Virage actually represents decent value in its class.
If you like the DB9 you’ll love the Virage. It looks better, drives better, has more equipment and yet it’s only around £25,000 more. To specify the carbon ceramic brakes alone in a DB9 you’d need £15,000, which makes the DB9 look a bit defunct. What’s impressive though is how it nibbles away at the DBS making a case for itself too. It retains its impressive GT credentials, but gains a degree of more sporting appeal, making it the only sensible choice in the DB9-based family line-up.