First Look

First Look: Aston-Martin Virage

It's difficult to know exactly how to feel about the Virage. Aston-Martin make no apologies for this being a very precisely engineered segment-filler. This doesn't automatically make it a bad car, but all car people know that this kind of bean counter mentality hasn't exactly produced very many desirable cars. The Virage is desirable though, which makes sense. It is, after all, slotted between the DB9 and the DBS, two highly desirable cars.

There are no surprises with the Virage, although, once again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It looks fantastic, and it would take someone very familiar with the brand to notice the differences between it and the other DB9-based cars which Aston produces. The differences are most certainly there though. In fact, they're everywhere. Aston has been obsessively meticulous about making the Virage an in-betweener in every possible way. The engine is the same 6.0-liter V12, basically two 3.0-liter Duratec V6's stuck together, as you will find in the other models.

Here it is tuned to produce 490 horsepower, a number which is exactly 20 more than what you'll find in the DB9 and 20 less than the number under the hood of the DBS. For a car that competes (price-wise anyway) with such technology-laden brands as Ferrari, Aston's V12 could almost be called primitive. It has no direct injection or variable-length intake manifold. It doesn't even have variable valve timing, something you've been able to find in much cheaper cars for quite a few years. This means the volumetric efficiency isn't quite as high as it could be, but 490 horses is by no means a number to scoff at.

You'll also have 85 percent of the 420lbs-ft of torque available at just 1,500rpm. Both the interior and the feel while driving are actually some of the better compromises you'll find between comfort and driving focus. Since this is a grand tourer, this kind of compromise is important and even if Aston's bean-counter thinking stumbled on this formula by accident, it's a winner. That said, the interior does come with some drawbacks which have been carried over from the other models. These can basically be summed up by saying the interior is too small.

While it doesn't feel claustrophobic, the back seat appears to be some kind of cruel joke and if both you and your passenger are on the larger size, you'll notice. The Virage will have a hard time outperforming much of the similarly priced, or even cheaper, competition. It makes up for this by looking much better, but in the end, it comes back to those other Astons which most hurt the Virage. I would have loved the Virage in a world where the DBS didn't exist, but as it is, Aston has so been so deliberate with the Virage that you can't help but wonder if the word itself means "you can't afford a DBS".

I want to like the Virage for what it is, rather than disliking it for what it's not, and if I owned one I'm sure I would come to in time, but right now it's a difficult impression to shake.

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