Aston Martin 2012 Virage

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A powerful sports car inspires confidence.

Sometimes when you drive a powerful sports car, it feels
like you’re trying to tame a beast that would just as soon chuck you out of the
driver’s seat and take off on its own. The new 2012 Aston Martin Virage isn’t
one of those cars. Instead, what occurs is a sort of mind meld between man and
machine where man gets the better part of the deal. The Virage is a confident
car and it instills that sense into the driver after only a few miles. Pass
three vehicles all at once on a two-way road? Sure. That’s what sports cars are
all about but in the Virage, it’s not a twitchy, heart-pounding maneuver with a
long exhale at the end. It’s all very quick and smooth.

The speed, of course, comes from the 490 hpV-12 engine
under the hood. Touch the accelerator and it’s like hitting the afterburners on
a rocket. Accelerating through a tunnel produces a sound NASA engineers would
appreciate. The Virage is fast but there’s never a feeling of loss of control
or neck-snapping acceleration. The ride is stable and comfortable throughout.
The automatic six-speed transmission is truly amazing, switching gears so fast
you tend to forget about the manual paddle flippers under the steering wheel. Dash-mounted
pushbuttons put the car in drive and below these are some slightly smaller
buttons for a sport mode and adaptive damping that offer a more road-hugging
driving experience. Top speed is 186 mph so the massive carbon ceramic brakes
come in very handy.

Aston Martin cars are all about attention to detail. There
is a two-door coupe and convertible versions available and both look like they
were rolled out from an expensive British styling salon. Among the posh cabin
features are a comfortable Bridge of Weir leather interior, a superb Bang &
Olufsen sound system, and even a fancy pen that inserts into the dash to look
like a glass lever. But maybe the best detail overall is one that’s not
visible—a little flapper valve on the exhaust pipe that dissipates combustion gases
more evenly for better performance. If you’re working at that level of detail,
then everything else is superb. The Virage starts up when you insert a futuristic
rectangular key fob Aston Martin calls an “emotion control unit,” a name that engenders
a smirk from the whiff of over-marketing. By the end of the drive, though,
you’re wondering if there isn’t some level of artificial intelligence inside
that fob they’re not telling you about. How else to account for the seamless
integration between driver and car? Maybe that accounts for the price. $210,000;