Aston Martin Virage Volante
Can the Volante version of new model prove to be as good to drive as the coupé?
VIEW the Virage as an evolution of the DB family, rather than an all-new model, and it makes sense. Dynamic compromises between the Volante and coupé are hard to detect, which means having the option of feeling the wind in your hair makes the drop-top the more desirable model. Stunning looks, effortless performance...this is Aston at its very best.
WHEN it comes to evocative names, few companies have such a rich list as Aston Martin. Occasionally, though, the car doesn’t live up to the badge. The original 1988 Virage was a low point, so can this new version finally do the name justice? We took the wheel of the Volante drop-top to find out.
At first glance, you might think this is another missed opportunity. The Virage is based on the DB9, and although it has a new front end, more sculpted side sills and LED running lights, it doesn’t really look much different. So why does it warrant a new name?
Well, the Virage is designed to sit between the DB9 and the DBS, aiming to deliver the best of both worlds – a refined GT and a full-fat supercar when you up the pace. Under the bonnet, the 6.0-litre V12 produces 490bhp – that’s 20bhp less than in the DBS, but 20bhp up on the standard model.
Despite the visual tweaks, it’s still hard to distinguish any difference. However, it does look good, adding some sharpness to the DB9’s shape. As well as a new body, the Virage gets fresh 20-inch alloy wheels, carbon ceramic brakes and updated adaptive dampers. The immaculate multi-layered folding hood looks as classy as ever. In fact, it fits so snugly that it feels very similar to a coupé with the roof up.
In the past, driving an Aston Martin without a roof could be a shaky experience. But those days are now well and truly over, and the difference between coupé and Volante is barely perceptible. The revised dampers give it a firm but compliant ride, making it ideally suited to its dual purpose as a long- distance cruiser and a sports car, while the steering is well weighted.
The Virage offers an engaging experience at any speed, but set the revised three-stage stability control to Track, and you can safely explore the limits of what the car is capable of. There is huge acceleration available, and while throttle response could be a touch sharper, all is forgiven when you hear the throaty roar of the V12 engine – especially with the roof peeled back. The familiar six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and well suited to the Virage’s effortless performance, too.
In transition from Coupé to Volante, the Virage gains 105kg, taking its total weight up to 1,890kg. Ultimately, it’s carrying this extra bulk around that limits the drop-top’s dynamic ability. However, viewed as a stylish and beautifully made GT, with a wicked turn of pace when needed, this is an excellent addition to the Aston family.