The first time I heard Kurt Cobain unleash his wailing voice was in 1991. I was 11, and the sound went straight through my ear canal before igniting the synapses in my brain. My very being was rewired, and my life became a few shades more colorful. Prior to Nevermind, I listened to music, but from the time I first picked up that blue cassette with its money-grubbing baby dong on the cover, I began to let music wash over my entire soul.
Sometimes in life, you have experiences that bump you around on the path you’re traveling. I didn’t really care that much about music before Nirvana, now I hate not having something on in the background. My own path was altered a little bit all those years ago in 1991.
It’s 2012 now, and something new has come along to change the way I view the world. I’ve never been much of a fan of convertibles. Sure, I love T-Tops, targas, and sunroofs, but I still want something over my head. My point of view, however, has just changed thanks to the 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante. This car isn’t “slightly nicer” to drive with the top down, it needs to be driven that way.
Hit the button, stow the roof, and press the gas. I’m not scared, light my candles in my gaze… because I’ve found God.
Okay, I might be exaggerating for the sake of storytelling, but the Virage Volante provides me with a new outlook towards automobiles with tops that drop. The sun shines on my face, the wind whips through my hair, and the soundtrack provided by Aston Martin goes straight into my ears. The noise comes courtesy of a 6.0-liter V12 engine, which produces 490 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This mighty front-mounted mill responds quickly to a stab of the pedal with both an angry roar and the ever-increasing sensation of forward-facing speed.
The power and fury is fed to the proper drive wheels by way of a six-speed automatic gearbox. This cog swapper is mounted out back on the transaxle, which allows me to boast about the 50:50 weight distribution to complete strangers who don’t care about that sort of thing. It’s OK though, because I can take a hint, and the Virage is bored when its not moving. I love myself, better than you, I know it’s wrong, but there’s driving to do.
Hustling this grand tourer across Southern California’s Ortega Highway is an easy exercise in enjoyable excess. Large paddles mounted behind the steering wheel allow me to grab whichever gear I desire, and the lower ones do most of the work because this stretch of asphalt is filled with a large number of tight lefts and rights. Both the car and my own composure remain neutral thanks to the 20-inch wheels, which are shod in sticky Pirelli PZero rubber. At each corner, the Virage Volante stays flat, and exits the turn with a rising V12 chorus bouncing off the canyon walls.
The Virage would be nearly as thrilling in hardtop form, but the aural excellence would be dialed back.
There is one area that I wish would be dialed back, however, and my angry back just sent a ripple of pain through my system as a reminder. The seats in the Virage Volante are overly bolstered. Not from the sides, but from the back. I tried to deflate the lumbar support as far as the system would let me, and it still felt like I was driving a car with an aggressive masseuse hid beneath the Bridge of Weir leather and focused quite hostilely on the center of my back. I brought this up to Aston Martin, and was told that the same seats are used in the Rapide. Those were thrones that I quite enjoyed, but I didn’t get the same experience in the Virage. Polly says my back hurts.
The rest of the interior worked rather well. Directional changes are made by twisting the meaty tiller, and the silver-colored gauges are easy to read and look pretty awesome as they glide upwards in opposite directions. Still, the navigation system, rather than being upgraded we merely turned into an Aston-skinned Garmin unit, the buttons on the center console focus on fashion instead of function, and the entire infotainment system needs to be thrown out so Aston Martin engineers can start from scratch.
Those faults shouldn’t be overlooked on a vehicle that costs as much as the 2012 Virage Volante. The base price is $222,895, and the car you see here has a healthy list of options ticked off to ring the register to the tune $247,970. This price point positions the Virage quite nicely, relatively speaking, between the DB9 and the Bondian bad ass DBS. The Virage stands out from the two by offering a better visual punch than the DB9, while keeping the overall excitement meter a few shades below that of the DBS.
This car really only competes with the other family members of the upper echelon portion of the Aston Martin lineup. If you want a Bentley, you just go out and buy a Bentley. Should you long for a Ferrari, just pop down to your local Ferrari dealership and pick one up. Aston Martin buyers know that they want the gorgeous lines and luscious notes that come with owning a machine built in Gaydon.
The 2012 Aston Martin Virage Volante is expensive, fast, and boasts unending levels of beauty. I never thought I would be a convertible person, but I’m a changed man now. I wouldn’t say object to the coupe though, either. I’d just have to hang my head out the window to get closer to that V12.
The choice is yours, don’t be late…
[Disclosure: Aston Martin provided me with the keys to this 2012 Virage Volante, and threw in a tank of gas as well. I needed all of that precious dino juice, and then a bit more, because the EPA estimated 18 miles per gallon on the highway is a rather generous use of the term “estimate”.]