Can’t decide between a DB9 Volante and DBS Volante? Then try Aston’s Virage Volante, it might be the middle-ground but it’s better than both.
Interested in this car?
Brilliant standard carbon ceramic brakes
Faster than a DB9, easier to drive than a DBS
It’s not cheap to buy or run
Loss of roof compromises the handling
Your friends calling you Mr Bond
Aston Martin evidently doesn’t do sweeping styling changes as the Virage’s details are only mildly tweaked over the DB9 it’s based on despite a completely different name. It’s the filler in the range between the DB9 and DBS, though it’s more chiselled than the DB9 and less extrovert than the DBS, which makes it the most visually appealing of the three cars. That’s as true with this Volante drop-top as it is the coupé; the open-topped model suits its slightly more contemporary lines and larger, multi-spoke alloys particularly well. As head-turners go there’s little to equal it, which is the point really.
If you thought the exterior changes over the DB9 Volante were subtle then those inside are even less obvious. There have been some revisions, but it’s still very much the neat metal, wood and fine leather combination we’ve come to expect from Aston Martin. Those instruments might look fantastic, but get the sun on them and they’re not easy to read, and the minor controls aren’t particularly intuitive. Still, with some time – and there are worse places to spend time – it all becomes familiar in its operation.
A Virage Volante is about as indulgent a purchase as it gets so it’s unlikely that practicalities will be high on the agenda. For a convertible that can reach 186mph it does reasonably well though, with a boot that’s not comically small, and a pair of rear ‘seats’ that can be used as additional luggage space – putting people in them for any length of time would be cruel. There’s some oddment stowage around the cabin, but not a huge amount. Travel in style, but light…
4. Ride and handling
It might have lost its roof – and hence some stiffness compared to its coupé sibling – but the Virage Volante remains an involving, interesting and hugely enjoyable car to drive. Its balance is impressive, while the fitment of Aston Martin’s adaptive damping system allows it to ride with real composure yet still offer fine body control. The quick, light and precise steering delivers some feel too, while the electronic stability and traction systems’ thresholds are high enough to enjoy the Virage’s performance without killing the fun too early. It’s a beautifully judged all-rounder, that’s as much GT as it is sports car.
There might be a touch more weight in the Volante thanks to the folding roof, but it does little to blunt the performance. Power comes from a 6.0-litre V12 producing 490bhp. That’s enough to see the Virage Volante reach 62mph in 4.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 186mph. The slick six-speed automatic shifts almost imperceptibly, except for the rousing change of engine note (all the better enjoyed with the roof down) rising up through its revs as the pace piles on. It’s unlikely you’ll ever find its performance lacking, and the Virage deals with its power very adeptly indeed.
6. Running costs
Forget any thoughts of running a Virage Volante on a budget. If you’re in a position to buy one then the running costs shouldn’t worry you, though the hoi polloi would baulk at the prices you’ll have to pay to have it serviced, insured etc. Perhaps the most annoying cost will be fuel, which, with a real-world average fuel consumption figure in the early teens, will mean frequent and expensive trips to the petrol station.
The Virage Volante’s close DB9 Volante relative hasn’t had a faultless reliability record, but with time Aston Martin has ironed out any problems. The Virage should be relatively trouble free then, though regular use will prevent the sort of niggling problems that many underused exotics suffer from.
Even though it’s never been independently crash tested Aston Martin tapped Volvo’s expertise when developing its cars so you can be assured it’ll absorb impacts well. Front and side airbags are standard, as is ABS, stability and traction control and seat belt pretensioners. In lieu of a fixed hard coupé roof the Virage Volante has roll bars that pop up should an imminent collision be detected, too.
Over the Virage coupé the circa £10,000 premium you’ll pay for open Volante seems reasonable. What looks even better value is the extra kit you gain over a DB9. Significantly, the Virage has standard carbon ceramic brakes, which not only aid the ride and handling by reducing the unsprung weight on each wheel, but also stop the Virage brilliantly. The cabin’s beautifully appointed too, with everything you’d want as standard – including a sat-nav system that actually works (unlike the hopeless older system in other Aston Martins).
10. Why buy?
The Aston Martin Virage is the best of the DB9 based cars, so by default the Volante is the best open-topped choice. It’s the complete all-rounder, with pace to keep a DBS honest, yet retaining the grand touring credentials of the DB9. Its specification, sharper looks and enjoyable drive really make it the stand out model, and with the roof down you can hear the glorious tune from its 6.0-litre V12 all the better.