Unlike a few years ago, before Ford divested its interest, things were quite crowded at the Aston Martin stand during this year’s Geneva Auto Show. The reinvigorated British automaker followed up last year’s launch of its four-door sports car, Rapide, with four new sporty two-door models.
The Virage, in both coupe and Volante (convertible) formats, slots in between the DB9 and DBS in Aston’s lineup of V12 powered cars, while the Vantage S, coupe and Roadster, assumes the performance peak of the V8 Vantage family.
By the way, use of designations beginning with a ‘V’ dates back to the early 1950s when the optional engine of the DB2 was dubbed Vantage.
Virage, which means a bend or turn in French, was the name first applied to the 1988 model that at the time reinstated Aston Martin as a world class performance luxury marque.
The latest Virage is what Aston Martin president and CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez considers the latest evolution of the company’s VH platform architecture that employs a mix of composite material with aluminum and steel in a rigid, lightweight body/chassis featuring front mid-mounted engine placement and a rear transaxle for optimum weight distribution and balanced handling. A bold new ‘face’ features single-lens bi-xenon headlamps beneath LED eyebrows that sweep back along a line toward front fender mounted side strakes embellished with LED lights. The Virage also has unique new 20-inch spoked wheels.
Virage is intended for customers who are looking for a Grand Touring car that delivers the luxury level of a DB9 with increased performance, but not the overtly sporting character of a DBS. Its 6.0-liter V12 engine delivers 490 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed Touchtronic II automatic transmission. Acceleration from 0 to 62 mph takes 4.6 seconds with top speed maxing out at 186 mph.
Massive front and rear carbon-ceramic disc brakes provide stopping power. A newly developed Adaptive Damping System (ADS) literally ‘reads’ the road for optimum ride and handling. The Volante version adds an automatic fabric top to the excitement.
Making it’s debut along with Virage is a new 6.5-inch hi-res display nav system from Garmin.
Aston Martin refers to the Vantage S as a driver-focused machine featuring increased horsepower and torque, a new ground-up developed seven-speed Sportshift II automatic transmission, larger front brakes, sport-tuned dampers and springs, wider rear wheels and quicker steering ratio. Styling is also more aggressive a la the V12 Vantage.
Numbers-wise, the 4.7-liter V8 makes 10 more horsepower for a total of 430 with 361 lb.-ft. Of torque to make 0 to 62 mph runs in a few ticks over four seconds.
The Vantage S is also available as a fabric top Roadster model.
Virage and Vantage S will be arriving at dealers in late Spring. No pricing has been set for the Virage, but Vantage S coupes start at $138,000 and Roadsters at $151,000.
Also on the Aston stand was the company’s subcompact Cygnet, which brings luxury and panache in a three-seat city car format. It is destined to come stateside, most likely in 2012.
PATRICK PATERNIE "still plays with cars" as a freelance writer/photographer covering new and classic automobiles, racing, and the high-speed lifestyle that surrounds them. His driving exploits include vintage autos and the latest exotics on many of the world’s greatest roads and racetracks. Patrick is the author of seven books about Porsche, Mini, Corvette and muscle cars, and has written articles that appear in AutoWeek, duPont Registry, Inside Line, Robb Report and others.