Piers Ward14 March 2011

Aston Virage: first drive

Hardcore performance GT slots between the DB9 and the DBS. But what it’s actually done is make those two a bit redundant...

Aston Martin Virage

If you're confused about Aston's line-up, here's a simple explanation that'll clear your head.

If you want four doors, then you'll need to buy the Rapide. If you want a two-door GT, then you'll need the new Virage.

The Virage slots between the DB9 and the DBS, a kind of GT with hardcore performance. But what it's actually done is make those two a bit redundant now, because the Virage is the perfect compromise and the better car.

See new pictures of the Aston Virage

A bit of theory for you. The Virage costs £150,000 (approx), neatly splitting the DB9 (£128,150) and DBS (£179,022). The Virage gets 490bhp, also neatly splitting the DB9 (470bhp) and DBS (510bhp). It's almost like Aston engineered the DB9 and DBS gap years ago, readying it up for something like the Virage.

It's skinned to look more aggressive than the DB9 - look at the wider grille and extra bulk in the lower sills - but still retains the elegance of a GT. Underneath, it's got the same aluminium chassis as the DBS and DB9, but Aston has been tinkering here.

The software controlling the adaptive dampers is more sophisticated now, so pressing the adaptive damper button doesn't make the ride bone-shatteringly hard. It does, however, tighten everything up, so body roll is reduced and crucially it feels more stable than the DB9 or DBS at the rear. The whole thing is more planted.

Have we got any criticisms? The cabin design could be bolder - the quality of the materials has been improved, but it looks identical to every other Aston.

And we'd like a sharper throttle response. You can solve this by pressing the Sport button, which we did every time we drove it, so why not just make the sharper throttle standard?

But to be honest, this is pretty minor stuff. The Virage is a great Aston. The only issue is what it will do to DB9 and DBS sales.

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