2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante Review
There are sports cars, and then there are Aston Martin sporting coupés. Only with the latter would a company ever see the need to "fill the gap" between cars like the DB9 and the DBS, but for 2012, Aston Martin has done just that by introducing the all-new Virage. Although it may take a trained eye to really tell the difference between the new 2012 Aston Martin Virage and a DB9, the changes, like the car itself, come down to the tiniest of details. With Miami as a backdrop - where citrus-colored Lamborghinis grow on trees and six-figure supercars are parked on every corner - we recently had the chance to get behind the wheel of a drop-top Virage Volante to see what discerns this newest Aston Martin from other high-dollar, high-power sports cars.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Pricing and Trim Levels
Parking a hand-built 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante in your driveway will set you back at least $223,295 - not including the $2,115 destination charge - but those fortunate enough to have a car budget worth more than the median home price, the Virage isn't even that big of a stretch. And if you can spend this kind of money on a car, why not splurge a little more to give it a little more personalization? That's where the extensive list of options comes in. Buyers are able to pick from a wide variety of options and accessories, and the car used for this review came with almost $11,000 worth of add-ons (mostly styling details) for an as-tested price of $238,025. This price rings in at about $50,000 less than a DBS Volante and is fairly close to some of the optioned-up cars in this exclusive segment.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Competition
Drivers looking for a bright, flashy sports cars have Ferraris and Lamborghinis to aspire to, but those looking for more of a sophisticated and gentlemanly grand touring car like the 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante might also cross shop cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, Maserati GranCabrio and Bentley Continental GTC. You'd think a price tag just shy of a quarter of a million dollars would give you instant exclusivity, but in a city like Miami, the valet lines have better cars than some international auto shows. Considering that there is no lack of competition in this ultra-exclusive segment, the 2012 Virage carves its niche with an easily identifiable Aston Martin design that is exquisite and sexy, and it delivers breathtaking performance.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Exterior
Seeing the 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante in your rearview mirror has to be akin to having a supermodel chasing you down with an aluminum baseball bat with its ferocious beauty and refined strength. The Virage's design is unmistakably Aston Martin with its sleek proportions, iconic Aston grille and the pronounced rear haunches. Compared to its DB-branded siblings, the 2012 Virage has a totally different front end with stretched, LED-trimmed headlights and a more unique front fascia, but the grille shape, side strakes in the fenders and split taillights are staples to the Aston Martin brand... right down to the Cygnet. Another signature trait present on the new Virage are the swan wing doors rise forward at a 12-degree angle that Aston Martin says is for improved access and reduced likelihood of hitting nearby curbs, but we know it's equally important to the car's overall styling. Like all other Aston Martins, the Virage carries itself with a remarkably understated gorgeousness making the car not as flashy as say a gull wing SLS or Ferrari 458 Italia, but this car still gets plenty of looks from passers-by. Making sure the Virage looks just as good approaching as it does departing, Aston Martin grave the car a stylish rump that includes an tasteful rear diffuser, clear-lensed taillights and rounded haunches that help expose the wide 295/30ZR20 Pirelli P Zero rubber wrapping the rear wheels. Our test car was swathed in a dark Midnight Blue hue with a matching blue convertible top, and although Aston Martin has managed to make the Virage look great regardless of whether the top is up or down even in standard form, this tester was finished off with a few high-dollar options including the $2,270 20-inch, graphite-finished alloy wheels and $1,595 titanium mesh hood louvers.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Interior
As elegant as the 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante is from the outside, the attention to detail inside the car is even more amazing on everything from the materials and stitching right down to the gear selector buttons. The look and feel of the Virage's cabin is almost identical to the DB9, but one of the most noticeable changes are the differing buttons on the center stack. While the DB9 and DBS both use black plastic buttons for the gear selectors and performance controls (ADS, Sport mode and traction control), the Virage uses glass buttons which not only match the crystal-tipped key fob but also helps add more depth and detail to the interior with a jewel-like appearance. The interior of our test car was largely a darker Sahara Tan leather with a Aurura Blue leather accents atop the instrument panel and rear tonneau cover, but we could have done without the optional ($1,020) Piano Black veneer on the center stack and upper door panel edges as it really attracted (and showed) finger prints and smudges. This nitpick is easily overlooked with the rest of the wonderfully hand-crafted interior that shows every stitch, has embroidered Aston Martin logo on the front and rear seats and shows off a four-gauge instrument cluster that rivals some of the best timepieces.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Powertrain and Fuel Economy
Beneath the long, vented hoots of the 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante sits a 5.9-liter V-12 rated at 490 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque; not ironically, this horsepower rating is an exact middle ground between the DB9's 470 hp and the 510-hp output of the DBS. This engine is paired with a rear-mounted, six-speed automatic transmission that can be operated as an automatic or a full manual using column-mounted paddle shifters. Even with its lightweight bonded-aluminum VH platform (the same that underpins the DB9 and DBS), the Virage Volante still weighs in at 4,166 pounds, but Aston Martin made sure this car performs as good as it looks promising acceleration from zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds and a weight distribution perfectly split 50:50 front to rear. All that horsepower and performance do come at a sacrifice of fuel economy with EPA-rated estimates of 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 mpg on the highway and a rating of 15 mpg in combined driving which is all enough to require a $2,100 gas guzzler tax.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Driving Impressions
Half the fun of driving the 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante is seeing others react to the car, but drivers are sure to walk away from this car with a big smile on their face, too. Despite being priced closer to the DB9, the Virage's spec sheet reads more like a DBS with its wider body (1.2 inches wider than the DB9), standard carbon ceramic brakes a four-wheel Adaptive Damping System (ADS). In Normal mode, ADS makes the Virage smooth enough to be an everyday driver, but pushing the Sport and ADS buttons really tightens the car up with more responsive suspension and throttle and it holds each gear longer to offer the raw sportiness similar to the DBS. While the Sport mode goes a long way to make the Virage feel more like the DBS, it also cures one of the Virage's biggest ailments, slow shifts from the automatic gearbox. It's possible that these shifts are just a part of the car's "Normal" setup that helps give the Virage its everyday driveability, but enthusiastic drivers might want to make sure the Sport mode is engaged all the time. This mode also makes it a little easier to keep the engine above 4,000 rpm where drivers are greeted with a loud and throaty exhaust note upon acceleration courtesy of the exhaust system's active bypass valves.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Final Thoughts
If driving fast makes you happy, then money really can buy happiness as the 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante delivers plenty of speed, but it also exudes a level of classiness and sophistication some other cars in this price range tend to overlook. Did Aston Martin really need a car to fit in between the DB9 and DBS? The easy answer is a definite yes with a price gap of almost $100,000 between these two cars, and the 2012 Virage is doing its best to split the difference in terms of both price and performance. We're sure that most buyers won't be complaining too much about the added choice when it comes to selecting one of these British beauties. Oh, and for those who are curious what the name Virage means, it is a French noun for bend, turn or curve which is pretty appropriate since the design has plenty of curves and this car can handle just about any turn put in front of it.
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante: Pros and Cons
- sexy, iconic Aston Martin styling
- excellent performance yet still a great daily driver
- beautifully hand-crafted interior
- slow-shifts from transmission
- piano black veneer is hard to keep clean
- styling too similar to DB9 and DBS
Aston Martin provided the vehicle for this review
Photos by Jeffrey N. Ross
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