2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante Review and Drive
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante
2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante
See and Be Seen.
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel
The day-long Midwest Automotive Media Association (M.A.M.A.) Fall
Rally was quickly drawing to a close as I noticed the parked and
popular-to-drive Aston Martin Virage Volante. The day’s weather had
been wonderful and the top was down on the Volante…a convertible in
Aston-speak. I was hopeful for a 10 to 15 minute quick spin to get a little
taste of this gem.
Aston Martin’s Press Fleet Manager, Ms. Viana Mehl-Laituri,
was busy on the phone so I waited to get her OK. As luck would have it she
needed to depart for her flight back to L.A. But, all wasn’t lost.
The Virage was to remain in Chicago for a couple weeks and Viana offered a
two-day loan the following week. Patience pays.
The weather wasn’t cooperating on Virage delivery
day. Rain. So, I parked the car for the day in my garage and used the
opportunity to study the operational ins-and-outs and design details.
Sunshine abounded the next morning and I was out early to take some photos.
Although a bit cool outside, with the mere touch of a button it was top
down with the black soft top folding quickly under its cover.
How does one drive a $247,000 Aston Martin? Cautiously and with
purpose on the streets of Chicago where at any moment you may find yourself
avoiding a taxi, city bus, bicyclist or pedestrian. On the other hand, the
Aston does get noticed and it did draw a few smiles and head-turns.
What does one get for $247,000, beside the looks.
Exclusivity; you won’t see yourself coming and going. An all-alloy
quad overhead camshaft 490 HP, 5.9-Liter, V-12 engine is mated to a
rear-mounted 6-speed Touchtronic sequential-shift automatic. The V-12 is
mounted as far back as possible to contribute to the perfect 50:50 weight
balance. The Touchtronic transmission is engaged with pushbuttons in the
center of the dashboard and can then be controlled from steering wheel
paddles. For the record, EPA Fuel Economy estimates are 13 city mpg and 18
highway mpg. The 21.1 gallon fuel tank should be good for around 380 miles
of highway running on a weekend getaway with your significant other.
The 490 HP will take the Virage from 0 to 62 in about 4.6 seconds,
cover the 1/4 mile in the mid-12s, and top it out at 183mph. Quite
respectable and an adrenaline-pumper. And yet, in Chicagoland city traffic
the Virage is very docile and tractable and an ease to drive. By the way, I
love the throaty exhaust note when the engine starts and the then moderate
tone during driving.
The Aston is indeed elegant. The Virage, all-new for
2012…introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in March, has a 2+2 seating
configuration and is available also as a coupe. It carries the full
contingent of comfort and convenience features as well as safety and
security features that you would expect in an automobile of this character.
Replete with standard features as a satellite navigation system, front and
rear parking sensors, powerfold outside mirrors that automatically fold-in
when the car is turned off and even a trunk mounted umbrella.
The standard audio system is powered by 700 watts. The Virage I
drove had the optional B&O BeoSound Audio, an $8330 option, with speakers
that pop-up from the top of the instrument panel.
Exotic materials abound with an extruded bonded aluminum VH body
structure, aluminum, magnesium alloy and composite body, and extruded
aluminum door side-impact beams. Wheels are 20 inches with the Pirelli P
Zero front tires being 245/35 on an 8.5 inch width and the rear being
295/30 on an 11 inch width.
Each Virage receives 70 man-hours of expert
craftsmanship lavished on the interior alone to create the famous
sophisticated Aston Martin interior. In all, over 200 man-hours are spent
handcrafting the Virage at Aston Martin’s global headquarters in
Gaydon, Warwickshire, England. The V-12 engine is assembled at Aston
Martin’s bespoke engine plant in Cologne, Germany. Aston Martin
technicians spend over 20 hours building and testing every engine before
sending it to Gaydon.
A plaque mounted to my Virage read: Aston Martin. Hand Built in
England. Final Inspection by Gordon Darroch.
Well, what’s in a name? Virage is a French noun
meaning a bend, turn or curve. Or, Virage also means a change or shift in
orientation. Aston Martin’s use of nomenclature beginning with a
‘V’ dates back to the optional ‘Vantage’ engine on
the 1950s DB2. So when the DP2034 (an internal design project number) had
to be found a name in 1985, the hunt began for an evocative word to carry
on this tradition. The call went out to the factory’s craftsmen, its
customers and to the Aston Martin Owners Club, ending in the collation of
hundreds of suggestions. Eventually the then Chairman, Victor Gauntlett,
and his Directors chose Virage to be the moniker of an all new car destined
to open a new chapter in the company’s history.
Virage: Sports car performance with luxury, comfort and refinement.
© Larry Nutson