The open-top version of Aston’s new GT suffers few compromises compared with coupé

What is it?

There was a time when the words ‘Virage’ and ‘Volante’ would cause car enthusiasts to recoil in horror. Because if we’re being blunt but honest, the original car that bore this name was probably Aston Martin’s lowest moment. One magazine at the time even went so far as to describe the car as a lemon.

What’s it like?

But that was, indeed, an awful long time ago, since when Aston Martin has been reborn and reinvigorated to a point where it can take the roof off a car as well resolved as the new Virage without there being much of a compromise involved.

In fact, with the hood down and the sunshine on your face, the Volante might actually be the more desirable model of the two, what with the Virage’s new-found ambition as a wafting GT car that just so happens to have supercar levels of performance at its disposal.

Despite gaining 105kg in the transformation from coupé to convertible (taking it to a somewhat portly 1890kg overall) the Volante still has plenty of go to call upon, thanks mainly to a 490bhp 6.0-litre V12 beneath its long bonnet, plus a six-speed, paddle-shift automatic gearbox through which to deploy it.

On the road, neither the performance nor the driving experience as a whole feels notably different from that of the excellent Virage. And there’s no notable shake evident through the steering column or the seats, the two areas where you’d expect to detect the biggest difference.

The hood itself has been trimmed with a double layer of Thinsulate material and ensures that the Volante feels effectively like a coupé when the roof is closed. All you really notice is a whiff more wind noise than the fixed-head version and 32 litres less boot space, but otherwise it feels much like the coupé on the move.

Should I buy one?

Inevitably, the Volante drinks a little more fuel than the coupé because it’s heavier. Assuming that you can afford the £10,000 premium it demands over the closed car, though, this could be the model to go for. On the right road, in the right weather, with the right kind of attitude, you could well believe that life doesn’t get much better than in a Virage Volante.

How times change, and how far Aston Martin has come as a result.

Aston Martin Virage Volante

Price: £160,000; Top speed: 186mph; 0-62mph: 4.6sec; Economy: 18.8mpg (combined); CO2: 349g/km; Kerb weight: 1890kg; Engine: V12, 5935cc, petrol; Power: 490bhp at 6500rpm; Torque: 420lb ft at 5750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic

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TBC 3 May 2011

Re: Aston Martin Virage Volante

part of the issue that seems to plague contributers is thus, Ulrich Bez was brought in to make Aston Martin profitable by using what he learnt at Porsche and reproduce for AML; and that is exactly what he has achieved, the two marques now appear very similar if viewed from a business perspctive.

Admittedly Porsche has the advantage of having been successful for a coniderable time as opposed to Aston who are just starting to turn it around, in the long term, by developing a corporate 'look' in the way that all Porsche's have a certain 911 look to them.

Very different from the Aston of old when Sir David Brown owned it and sold each car for £1,000 less than they cost to build!

shuffleboardwiz 26 April 2011

Re: Aston Martin Virage Volante

eseaton wrote:
I am going to the Ring with a friend who has a V12 Vantage this weekend.
Wow. Properly jealous now! I do hope you have a blast at the Ring. The V12 Vantage is an awesome weapon for that trip. Sorry to hear you had a bad V8 Vantage experience. The Vantage S moves the game a long way forward, I hear. It's been fun exchanging views with you. Best wishes.

eseaton 25 April 2011

Re: Aston Martin Virage Volante

Good words all round, and I am glad you have corrected me on some of my extreme views! I am going to the Ring with a friend who has a V12 Vantage this weekend. Perhaps my scorn will be reduced afterwards... If I feel inspired, I will comment further afterwards. I hated my first V8 Vantage experience 3 years ago, but hope to be positively surprised this time.