2012 Aston Martin Virage Preview
By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2011
2012 Aston Martin VirageHighlights:
- All-new model
- Aluminum monocoque construction
- Standard 6.0-liter V-12 engine
- 6-speed "Touchtronic" automatic transmission
- Rear-wheel drive
- Two-plus-two or two-plus-zero accommodations
- Standard carbon-ceramic brakes
- Top speed of 186 mph
Aston Martin first introduced the world to its "Virage" in 1988, when the badge was rolled out at the Birmingham Motor Show. Designed to replace the 20-year-old "V8" model, the new coupe was configured to be the automaker's range-topping flagship. As such, it was fitted with a 5.3-liter V-8, and all of the expected luxury amenities of the era. Less than one year later, the Virage went into production.
The first-generation Aston Martin Virage survived for about a decade. While it didn't actually go out of production, it was eventually replaced in 1998. Interestingly enough, it was succeeded by its own high-performance trim level - Aston Martin called it the Vantage (the Virage nomenclature was simply dropped).
After more than a decade, the British automaker has brought back its Virage nameplate with an all-new model. According to Aston Martin, the Virage "combines outright sports car performance with luxury, comfort, and refinement." Designed to sit in the automaker's lineup between the DB9 (a luxurious touring coupe) and the DBS (a race-bred sports coupe), the new Virage has been engineered to offer sport and comfort in equal measure. Aston Martin has taken the technology from its DBS and united it with the comfort and refinement found in the DB9 and Rapide, the automaker's recently introduced 4-door sedan.
At first glance, the Virage may appear very similar in appearance to the rest of Aston Martin's coupe lineup. Understandable, as the design language used on the new model reflects the automaker's trademark design elements - signature swing wide doors and sleek bodywork. A closer look reveals a unique aluminum front grille, inspired by the One-77, with five horizontal vanes configured to create an airfoil profile. The lower front valance, and front bumper, are both aggressively sculpted yet overall rather simple in design. Even the headlights, single bi-xenon units with six-LED running lamps, separate the Virage from its siblings.
According to the automaker, more than 200 man hours of time goes into assembling the appointments in the cabin, which includes "Bridge of Weir" leather, hand-stitched by craftsmen. Standard equipment includes a full leather interior, heated seats, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and a 700-watt Aston Martin Premium Audio system with iPod integration.
The Virage is built using Aston Martin's "VH platform," shared with many other models in its lineup. The bonded aluminum, composite and magnesium structure helps to keep weight to a minimum while delivering a structurally stiff platform (rigid platforms help to improve handling).
Under the lightweight hood is a 6.0-liter naturally aspirated 12-cylinder engine. The hand-built all-aluminum powerplant is rated at 490 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. The V-12 is mated, through a special lightweight carbon-fiber driveshaft, to a mid-mounted transaxle containing a 6-speed automatic transmission. The driver has the option of leaving the transmission in "D" or using one of the two leather-covered magnesium shift paddles mounted on the shift column (located in that position so the driver can easily find them, says the automaker). According to Aston Martin, the new Virage will sprint to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds. Its unrestricted top speed is 186 mph.
The suspension is independent, both front and rear, with monotube adaptive dampers at all four corners. The newly developed "Adaptive Damping System" (ADS) intelligently "reads" the road, allowing it to automatically adapt itself to different driving conditions. The electronically controlled system chooses between presets (in both "sport" and "normal" mode) for a total of ten different settings.
Bolted to each hub are standard 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels (the automaker offers five different wheel options), all wearing Pirelli P-Zero tires. Inside the wheels are aerospace-inspired carbon-ceramic brakes. This type of brake, developed for aircraft use, offers a significant reduction in overall weight plus the added benefit of high heat resistance - perfect for those who prefer to use their Virage models on the track.
Assembled in England, the new coupe is available in 2+2 and 2+0 (leaving just a rear parcel shelf behind the front seats) configurations. The Virage is on sale now.