Photo: Robert Libetti/ Business Insider
This is one of those times that it’s really hard to be objective.I’m 25 and Aston Martin offered to let me have a $238,000 convertible for a weekend. It doesn’t really get better than that.
Aston Martin is known for making some of the most bespoke, drop dead gorgeous cars on the road. Every single model is lust-worthy in the looks department.
They are just glorious and oh so sexy.
So which car was I privy to? A dark blue Virage Volante, which means convertible in Aston parlance.
In the Aston Martin lineup, the Virage falls right between the DB9 and DBS. The DB9 has 470 horsepower, the DBS has 510, and the Virage has, unsurprisingly, 490 from its 5.9 liter V12.
Photo: Robert Libetti/ Business Insider
As you may have guessed, the Virage is based on the DB9 with revised bodywork. It still has that distinct Aston flare, but the different headlights are signaling a new direction for the brand.While a Ferrari is a noisy car for a playboy, an Aston is more of a gentleman’s ride. It instantly made me feel like a discerning member of the upper class that likes handmade suits, fine cognac, and made to order jewelry. Astons are cars for people with impeccable taste.
I took the Virage everywhere from a coffee shop to a car show. I got approving thumbs up, people staring at the car, and even girls turning their heads. This ride is a huge confidence booster.
Since the Virage is the proverbial middle child in the DB9 range, the driving experience falls right between the DB9 and DBS.
The suspension is firm, but not overwhelmingly so. Flick it into a corner and, in a welcome change from most production cars, there is a prodigious amount of bite from the front tires and a slight tendency towards oversteer (the tail slides a little). It's easy to control and a ton of fun to drive.
And man do those brakes work. Carbon ceramic discs from the DBS are at all four corners. Stopping distances are incredibly short and braking is linear. However, under regular driving around town, the brakes squeak like a 1996 Hyundai. These really need to be warm to work correctly.
Power from the 5.9 liter V12 -- which Aston labels as a 6.0 -- is excellent, and the sound is just incredible. Get the revs above 3,000 and it gives any symphony in the world a run for its money. From a dead stop, you'll hit 60 in about 4.5 seconds. It's not brutally fast, but it is gentlemanly quick.
Aston Martins are the sexiest cars on the road, and the Virage is the sexiest of the sexiest.
In terms of 1980s posters on bedroom walls, this car is Farrah Fawcett.
The proportions are perfect. The hood is long. The rear deck is short. The lights look like gorgeous jewels.
I'm normally not a fan of coupes that have been made into convertibles, but taking the top off of this Aston just makes it even sexier.
What a car.
Another hand crafted marvel, the fit and finish in here is second to none.
The leather is soft and supple, gaps are nonexistent, and the stereo sounds great. It's beautiful, the centre stack is covered in glass, and the key --which Aston calls the 'Emotion Control Unit' -- is made of crystal.
Yes, you read that right. Crystal.
This car has two rear seats...if you can actually call them that. You might be able to fit a legless infant back there, but that's about it. Definitely opt for the rear seat delete option if you buy a Virage.
Once my excitement wore off, I did actually find a number of areas where Aston needs to step up its game.
The transmission is the first issue. The Virage has a six speed automatic (carried over from the DB9, which has been around since 2003), not a fancy double clutch like the Porsche Panamera I recently drove. Perhaps the Porsche spoiled me, but the Virage shifted so lazily that I found the paddle shifters annoying.
While the interior is gorgeous to look at, there are issues there too. The menus are nearly impossible to figure out without someone telling you how to do it. The vents and stalks feel like they're from the Ford parts bin. And if you are in direct sunlight, you cannot see if any of the buttons or screens on the centre console are illuminated.
Also, the windows go down with one touch, but not up. Even a Kia has one touch up/down.
Just look at it. I could for hours. It's sleek, low, long, and drop dead gorgeous.
The sound is throaty and raspy, yet civilized around town. It strikes a great balance between being raucous and refined.
This car has fantastic steering. It's not too heavy and provides the right amount of feedback.
I also loved how it kind of flew under the radar. I had a retired couple in a coffee shop ask me about the car. When they guessed how much it was, they were only $160,000 under. The Aston is for a person that doesn't want to be ostentatious, but still wants to have a classy ride.
I appreciated that.
This is not a practical purchase. It's a purchase of desire.
Dynamically, it is not better or worse than other cars in its class, it's on par. It depends on your personality.
If you like wearing a lot of red, want people gawking at you, and like listening to a piercing engine note all the time, it isn't the ride for you.
But if you like a fine suit, want the discerning enthusiast to recognise the car, and want to be loud only when needed, the Virage is a great choice. Sure it has some faults, but I honestly don't care at all. It's a one of a kind ride and one of the finest cars on the road today.
Would I buy it over a DB9? Absolutely. Over a DBS? Maybe. If you want to take a spirited long distance journey, you can't go wrong with a Virage. If you're going point to point through corners, opt for the pricier and faster DBS.
Oh, did I mention how gorgeous it is? I did? Just making sure.
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