With the hotly anticipated North American debut of the Aston Martin V12 Zagato at the exclusive McCall’s Motorworks Revival last night (more on that next week), let me take the opportunity to offer a more focused examination of Aston’s new grand tourer, the Virage. After premiering at the Geneva Motor show last March, the Virage quickly came to market in traditional closed and convertible top Volante forms, both of which Aston was kind enough to let me put through the paces on the curving blacktop of Los Angeles’ local mountain ranges.
As a conceived midpoint between the “entry-level” DB9 grand tourer and the line-up leading James Bond-level DBS, the Virage combines the best of both at a price point that lies conveniently between the two. While the Virage offers many of the same features that we’ve grown accustomed to in those other cars – the basic platform, exterior and interior design, and the 6-liter V-12 that lies under the hood – minor cosmetic differences can be found in an aggressive new front end that is based on the uber-exclusive One-77 supercar.
The major innovation that distinguishes the Virage from its counterparts, though, is an improved system of dampers and springing that allows the car to transform from a positively luxurious touring machine (a la the DB9) to a fierce track competitor (like the DBS). Consistent with the overall concept, the V-12 motor is tuned in the Virage for 490 horsepower, right between its two brothers. The Virage, however, can produce 85% of its 420 lb-ft of torque at only 1,500 rpm, resulting in some serious acceleration for a supposed modestly-tuned engine. 0–62 mph times are quoted as 4.6 seconds while top speed is 186 mph.
Buyers looking strictly for performance are encouraged to consider the Coupe, with its sweet fastback lines. Lighter than the Volante by about 230 pounds, the Coupe is best situated to take advantage of the Virage’s perfect 50:50 weight distribution, tight cornering, and mind-blowing handling, which are properly realized through the Sport and Track Modes that are initiated through handsome dash-mounted glass jewel buttons.
For sheer style points, though, there’s no beating the Volante’s retractable softop, which lends an airy luxury to the thoroughbred performer. Throw in the $8,300 Bang & Olufsen sound system (an automatically attenuating, 13-speaker set-up good for 1,000 watts), Bridge of Weir leather upholstery, and 10-way adjustable sports seats and you’ve achieved automotive nirvana.
2012 Aston Martin Virage
Base retail price: $207,895 (Coupe), $222,895 (Volante)
Price as tested: $228,700 (Coupe), $244,720 (Volante)
Engine: All Alloy Naturally-Aspirated Quad Overhead Cam 5,935 cc V-12
Transmission: Rear Mid-Mounted Touchtronic 2 Six-Speed Automatic Gearbox with Paddle Shifting
Max Power 490 bhp at 6,500 rpm
Max Torque 420 lb-ft at 5,750 rpm
Acceleration 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds
Max Speed 186 mph
Coupe photos © Mike Daly. Interior and Volante images courtesy of Aston Martin.