VIRAGE is French for “bend, turn, curve” and we’ve been testing Aston Martin’s latest GT on the roads of Andalucia, roads so twisty, bendy and curvy that my co-driver has just been sick. Later he will blame my driving, but for now we’re trying to work out how to wash the vomit off of the beautiful exterior of our borrowed £150k Aston Martin using less than 100ml of Evian water, which is all we have left.
We are also fantastically lost. So lost that we are driving about 45 miles across the narrowest and twistiest road I can remember, high up in the hills. It’s just us plus a ragbag assortment of locals all driving white Nissan Navarros on the wrong side of the road. I lose count of the number of times we wait stationary in the Virage as yet another Andalucian goat farmer edges past us within millimetres of the car, making it all the more remarkable that our orange Virage arrives at the rendevouz without a scratch on it. Unlike us. We’re a little frazzled. Thankfully, the new Aston Martin sat nav system – made by Garmin – has got us here a treat.
The Virage has proven itself a comfortable, reliable and exhilarating companion. Not to mention versatile. Created to slot in the gap between the DB9 and the DBS, the car somehow effortlessly blends the best parts of both. The Virage has the same 6.0-litre V12 engine found in the DB9 and the DBS but tweaked to produce 490bhp. A six-speed Touchtronic II automatic gearbox is the only transmission option, but the car has a new Adaptive Damping System (ADS) which can read the road conditions to optimise the car’s handling by changing the stiffness settings. The Virage also has carbon ceramic brakes which massively improve braking – and thus confidence too.
All of which feels a little incongruous when we’re driving on the motorway in near silence. Aston Martin has spent a great deal of time ensuring that the refinement levels of the Virage emulates the levels of its four seat limousine, the Rapide. So much so that it takes me a while to work out who the car is for. It’s only once we’re into the quiet, twisty hill roads approaching Ronda with the Sport button on that the Virage makes utter sense. It’s a wonderful tourer. In Sport mode – which adrenalises the throttle response, quickens the gear changes and sees the Virage hang on to a gear for longer – the car becomes an agile, fast and exciting vehicle indeed. The gearbox is direct and quick. Changes via the paddle shifters see the transmission rev up and down to ease the gear change. The result is that even the most average driver sounds and feels far more heroic than he actually is. It also means that you get even more opportunity to hear the sound of the engine, a roar so seductive that I find myself driving the car with the Sport setting just about anywhere.
Looks-wise, the Virage is more elegant and understated than the DBS, yet still somehow manages to be both beautiful and muscular. Inside the car has glass switches, beautiful leather and seats that somehow manage to be both soothing and supportive even when you’re throwing the car around. The result is a car that can be far more brutal than it looks yet far more refined than we’ve seen in such a package from Aston. It is also great fun; more exciting than the DB9 and more subtle than the DBS, the Virage is a two-seat Rapide that provides first class refinement to get you to the Alps quickly and comfortably and then delivers on its promise of speed and agility when you get there.
ASTON MARTIN VIRAGE
TOP SPEED: 186mph
CO2 G/KM: 349g/km
MPG COMBINED: 18.8mpg
VALUE FOR MONEY