19/5/11

Overview: Aston Martin Virage

The new Virage is the tenth production model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon plant in the space of eight years. It sits between the DB9 and DBS, with a design brief that focused on combining effortless performance with luxury. It is not intended as an out-and-out screamer.

Nevertheless, Aston Martin’s hand-built six-litre V12 provides more than adequate power: headline outputs are 497PS and 570Nm, delivered to the rear transaxle by way of a carbon-fibre prop-shaft inside an alloy torque tube: this connects the engine and transmission casings for rigidity. The transmission is a ZF 6HP, a traditional epicyclic unit, with six forward gears; its rear mounting contributes to the car’s 50:50 mass distribution. A limited-slip differential is fitted.

Aston Martin Virage Volante.

Like most sporting cars, the Virage comes with adaptive damping control. The system selects from five different stiffness settings within each of the two main driving modes: Normal and Sport. As well as adjusting the damper settings, Sport provides a sharper throttle response and faster gear changes.

Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) brakes as standard, reducing un-sprung (and rotational) mass and providing good resistance to fade.

Aston Martin’s bonded aluminium ‘VH’ (vertical-horizontal) architecture forms the structure of the Virage, as it does all other Astons. The body is of aluminium, magnesium alloy and composites.

Aston Martin Virage.

The new car’s satellite navigation system has been developed in conjunction with Garmin and is fully integrated into the car. The new system simplifies operation through the existing four-way joystick mounted on the facia. The display is a new 16cm high-resolution unit.

Standard equipment includes heated seats, cruise control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth telephone preparation and a 700W Aston Martin premium audio system.

Performance

The new Virage’s V12 is an all-alloy unit with two camshafts in each cylinder-head and four valves per cylinder. It is assembled at Aston Martin’s engine plant in Köln, Germany — an enclave within Ford’s site. The unit is mounted in a front-mid position, and is distinguished from other Aston V12s by a black plenum. The plenum is of a new ‘five pillar design’, increasing the rigidity of the manifold; this apparently delivers an ‘improved sound quality’, and presumably good airflow as well, though Aston Martin makes no mention of that. The V12 has been designed to deliver over 85 per cent. of its peak torque at only 1500rpm for good tractability.

The transmission, though a conventional automatic, can be operated in the modern idiom, using leather-clad magnesium paddles mounted on the steering column.

Control

Wheel location at both ends is by way of double wishbones, with monotube adaptive dampers and an anti-roll bar at each end. Anti-dive geometry is featured at the front, anti-squat and anti-lift at the rear. Springing is by steel coils.

The new adaptive damping system (ADS) adjusts the damping at each corner using yaw, accelerometer, steering wheel, throttle and brake (ABS) sensors.

The ADS button on the facia allows the driver to override the system and switch the dampers into a firmer range of settings. As the button is depressed, for the initial five seconds, all damper settings are set to their firmest providing the driver a tangible difference. After five seconds, the system reverts to the optimum setting within the firmer (Sport) range.

Other driver aids are the usual suspects: anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA) and traction control.

The Virage’s carbon ceramic matrix (CCM) brakes use six-piston callipers at the front and four-piston items at the back. Quite apart from their superior fade resistance, the CCM discs are 12.5kg lighter (in total) than conventional iron discs.

A three-stage dynamic stability control (DSC) system allows the driver to tailor the level of electronic intervention according to the type of driving. In default mode, the system is set to ‘on’ which will limit any tyre slip in difficult conditions, and provide the maximum amount of security possible without being intrusive. Holding the DSC button for four seconds will engage Track Mode, which delays the electronic intervention. Depressing the button for a further five seconds will disengage the system completely.

Using knowledge learned from the V8 Vantage Roadster and DBS Volante, the new Virage Volante (soft-top) features a solidly-mounted rear subframe as well as front and rear shear panels which deliver high levels of rigidity. For the first time on an Aston Martin, the Virage coupe also uses a shear panel at the rear of the car, again to enhance strength and rigidity.

Power steering is ZF’s familiar Servotronic system — no electromechanical PAS for Aston Martin (yet).

Design, refinement

The new Virage was designed at Aston Martin’s dedicated design studio at Gaydon in Warwickshire. Aston Martin can take an initial sketch through to a full size clay model, then to a prototype and ultimately into production all on one site. The Virage will be built at the same production facility as the DBS and DB9.

In the interest of refinement, extra sound insulation has been applied to the front and rear bulkheads compared with the previous Virage. The Volante features an extra layer of Thinsulate material in the fabric hood, making the Volante feel more like a coupe when the hood is up.

The Virage Coupé is normally a 2+2. A two-seater arrangement with a rear parcel-shelf is also available. Lightweight seats can be specified for the two-seater coupe. Whatever layout you specify, you get an umbrella fitted in the boot as standard equipment.

The fully integrated satellite navigation system has been improved over previous incarnations: graphics are clearer and pictorial junction views are better. The system remains out of sight beneath the wood facia, rising from the centre console at the touch of a button. Control is through a four-way aluminium joystick, avoiding finger marks on the screen.

Organic electroluminescent (OEL) displays are used for the instrumentation.

Interestingly, the only market to get a tracking device as standard is the U.K.

Aston Martin Virage
Cylinders 12V
Block/head Al/Al
Valves 4
VVT
Aspiration A
Bore/stroke 89.0/79.5
Swept volume 5935cc
Compression
ratio
10.97:1
PS/rpm 497/6500
Nm/rpm 570/5750
Maximum speed 186
0-100km/h 4.6
Urban MPG
(l/100km)
12.7
(22.3)
Combined MPG
(l/100km)
18.8
(15.0)
CO2 g/km 349
Emissions EU5
Transmission A6
Driven wheels Rear
Fuel tank 78l
Kerb mass† 1710 (1815*)
PS/t 290 (273*)
Nm/t 333 (314*)
Length 4703
Width 1904
Height 1282 (1289*)
Wheelbase 2740
Track
— front
— rear

1586
1581
Tyres
— front
— rear
Pirelli P Zero
245/35R20
295/30R20
† Kerb mass figures to DIN standard. For E.U. standard, add 75kg.
* Volante.
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