Aston Martin Virage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Aston Martin Virage/V8/Vantage
Aston Martin Virage.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Aston Martin
Production 1989–2000
1,050 produced
2011–2012
Body and chassis
Class Grand tourer
Layout FR layout
Chronology
Predecessor Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Successor Aston Martin V8 Vantage

The Virage was Aston Martin's replacement for the decades-old V8 models. Introduced at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1988,[1] it was joined by the high-performance Vantage in 1993, and the name of the standard car was changed to V8 in 1996.

This V8-powered car was intended as the company's top model, with the 6-cylinder 1994 DB7 slotted below it. Although the DB7 switched to a V12 engine and claimed the performance crown, this V8 model (by then in Vantage form) remained the exclusive, expensive, and hand-built king of Astons. It was replaced in 2000 with the Vanquish. The V8 Vantage name reappeared on a new entry-level model in 2005. By the end of the 2000 model year, 1,050 of all Virage related models had been produced.

A new generation Virage was introduced at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, to fit into the middle of Aston Martin's current lineup.

Virage[edit]

Virage
Aston Martin Virage - Flickr - mick - Lumix.jpg
Overview
Production 1989–1995
365 produced
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door 2+2 coupé
Powertrain
Engine 5.3 L V8
Transmission 5-/6-speed manual
3-/4-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,610 mm (102.8 in)
Length 4,735 mm (186.4 in)
Width 1,855 mm (73.0 in)
Aston Martin Virage 1997.

When compared to the preceding V8, the design was fresh and more modern. It looked more like a Lagonda than the V8 it replaced. Indeed, the chassis was an evolution of the Lagonda's, with a de Dion tube rear suspension, located by triangulated radius rods and a Watts linkage, and a double wishbone unit at the front.[2] To cut costs, many of the less-important pieces came from other companies, as had been the case for many an Aston past. The sleek headlights and taillights were Audi 200 and Volkswagen Scirocco units, respectively, while General Motors, Jaguar, and Ford provided the steering column, climate control panel, and dash switches. In fact, Ford had purchased Aston Martin and Jaguar shortly before the Virage debuted.

Rear view of Virage

The Virage was a large, heavy car in spite of its all-aluminium body, but the 32-valve 5.3 L (5,340 cc) V8 engine's 494 N·m (364 lb·ft) torque elevated its performance to near super car levels. "Acceleration just never seems to run out", claimed Sports Car International on a first test. They also praised the "eager and quicker revving" nature of the 335 PS (246 kW; 330 hp) engine with its Callaway-designed heads and Weber-Marelli fuel injection. "Nothing sounds quite like an Aston V8," they concluded. The 1,790 kg (3,946 lb) car could reach 158 mph (254 km/h). The automatic could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) from standing in about 6.5 seconds.[1] An upgrade to 354 PS (260 kW; 349 hp) was announced at the 1996 Geneva Show.[3]

The five-speed ZF manual was a fairly rare option, only fitted to about fifty Virages. The more popular automatic option was Chrysler's three-speed Torqueflite transmission. For 1993[clarification needed] the three-speed was replaced by a four-speed automatic unit.[3] The six-speed manual from the Vantage also became optional late in the Virage's production run.[4]

Works Service[edit]

In January, 1992, Aston Martin introduced a conversion service, transforming the car into a Virage 6.3. As the name implies, the centerpiece of the conversion was a 6.3 L (6,347 cc) V8 derived from the AMR1 racing car. This engine produced 500 hp (373 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 480 lb·ft (651 N·m) at 5,800 rpm, allowing the car to reach 175 mph (282 km/h).

Other changes included 362 mm (14 in) ventilated disc brakes, the largest used in a passenger car until the Bentley Continental GT, and 18 in (457 mm) wheels. Visually, the 6.3 had wide flared bumpers, low sills and air dams, and side air vents.

Virage Shooting Brake

In true British tradition, a shooting brake (estate) version of the Virage was offered in extremely limited numbers. A three-door four-seater, it debuted at the March 1992 Geneva Motor Show. Unlike prior Aston Shooting Brakes, however, the Virage was produced in-house by the company's Works Service, with a total of only four constructed. The price new was GB£165,000. Two of the cars retained Virage chassis numbers, while two received the standalone "DP/2099" chassis number.

Lagonda Virage Saloon

Another rare Works Service car is the Lagonda Saloon. Only a handful of these long-wheelbase four-door Virages were built as a special customer order, reviving Aston Martin's long-dormant second marque. Introduced in 1994, it was made by the Aston Martin Works Service with a 12-inch (30 cm) chassis extension, although two were ordered with an 18-inch (460 mm) extension. The name refers to the four-door Aston Martin Lagonda. The Lagonda Virage cost about GB£250,000 and only eight or nine were made, with some being conversions of regular Virages.

Lagonda Virage Shooting Brake

The five-door Lagonda Virage Shooting Brake debuted at the same time as the Lagonda Virage. It was made by the Aston Martin Works Service in only one or two examples, and has been spotted bearing "Vacances" badging at the rear.


Volante[edit]

Virage Volante
Virage Volante.jpg
Overview
Production 1992–1996
233 produced
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door 2+2 convertible
Powertrain
Engine 5.3 L V8

The Virage Volante convertible debuted at the 1990 Birmingham Motor Show as a strict two-seater, but a 2+2 version was shown at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show.[1] Production examples, beginning in 1992, were all to feature 2+2 seating. Sources claim that between 224 and 233 examples had been produced when the series ended in 1996. The last 11 example (hence the difference between 224 to 233) already had the naturally aspirated 1995 version motor of the later V8 and V8 LWB Volante with the improved four-speed and overdrive Torqueflite automatic and 354 hp (264 kW). A new V8 Volante, with styling based on the V8 Coupé and supercharged Vantage was built from 1997 to 2000 on a lengthened chassis. 63 long chassis V8 Volante's were built.

The single LWB Vantage Volante built
V8 Volante
Overview
Production 1997–2000
63 produced
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door 2+2 convertible
Powertrain
Engine 5.3 L V8

The final Virage variant to be built was the ultra-limited V8 Vantage Volante of 2000. Nine of these high-performance convertibles were produced, one of them on the long wheelbase chassis.


Vantage[edit]

Vantage/Le Mans
AM Vantage V550.jpg
Overview
Production 1993–2000:
280 produced
Volante, 2000:
8 SWB, 1 LWB
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door 2+2 coupé
2-door 2+2 convertible (Works Service)
Powertrain
Engine 5.3 L supercharged V8

As with many other Astons, a high-performance Vantage model of the Virage would later appear. First shown at Birmingham in September 1992, the Vantage was produced from 1993 through 2000 and, like so many other Aston Vantages, soon became the only variant available. Indeed, the Virage name lasted just a few years, with its final descendants inheriting the simple and familiar V8 name.

The design was freshened, leaving only the roof and doors of the car intact. The Vantage was wider, appeared lower, and used four round "grapefruit" tail lights (rumoured to have been those used on a Bova coach for the prototype). Like the 6.3, the Vantage used record-sized 362 mm (14 in) brake discs and 18 inch wheels.[4]

Vantage 1998

The most radical change to the Vantage, however, was inside the engine compartment. The 5.3 L engine now sported twin superchargers. Power output topped the industry at 550 hp (410 kW), and torque was equally impressive at 555 lb·ft (745 N·m) at 4,000 rpm. Top speed was 300 km/h (186 mph), with a dash to 60 mph (97 km/h) taking just 4.6 seconds.[4] Considering that the kerb weight of the car was almost two tons, this was no mean feat. The engine was later uprated to 600 hp (447 kW) for the 1998 V600. The earlier version is often referred to as "V550" to set it apart from the later, upgraded ones.

In 2000, Aston Martin's "Works Service" unit built nine bespoke Vantage Volantes (convertibles), one of which was built to long wheelbase specifications.

V8 Coupé
Aston Martin V8 1997.jpg
Overview
Production 1996–2000
101 produced
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door 2+2 coupé
Powertrain
Engine 5.3 L V8

V8 Vantage Le Mans[edit]

Just before the new European emission and safety regulations came in force, Aston Martin decided to put a memorable end to the V8-Vantage breed, with a special model called "V8 Vantage Le Mans". This car was presented in Geneva in 1999, the 40th anniversary of Aston Martin's victory at that race. It was decided that only a limited series of 40 Vantage Le Mans would be built, one for each year since the Le Mans victory. These cars were the only Aston Martin ever sold with the Le Mans name, and are different and better than any of the previous Aston Martin V8.

The engine delivers 612 PS (450 kW; 604 hp) and 820 N·m (600 lb·ft) of torque, whilst the suspension was also reinforced with special Koni shock-absorbers and stiffer anti-roll bars. The bodywork featured a blanked-out front grille and modified side vents – replicating the side vents of the Le Mans winning DBR-1 – as well as a bigger front spoiler and rear skirt. The interior was reworked with a gigantic rev-meter, a special Titanium finish on some parts, and all possible options such as heated windshield, parking radars, traction control, heated electric seats, and full Connolly leather upholstery with matching Wilton pure wool carpets. Wheels were the same Dymag magnesium units as seen on most V600s. Performance was high, with a claimed top speed of 200 mph (or 320 km/h) and zero to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. The keyholder was in sterling silver and a map from Newport-Pagnell to the legendary Le Mans track was provided in the delivery documents, for owners who would like to do the pilgrimage. Each "Le Mans" was made upon special commission and fitted with a number plate indicating also the name of the first owner.

Vantage Le Mans

A less extreme V8 Coupé was also built from 1996, replacing the defunct Virage. Lacking the superchargers and the more aggressive body style of its big brother Vantage, the coupé produced 349 hp (260 kW) and 369 lb·ft (500 N·m). In total, 101 examples of the V8 version were built from 1996 through 2000. The price of a V8 Vantage Le Mans with all options was a little above £190'000 GPB in 2000.

U.S. availability[edit]

The Virage did not become available in the United States until the summer of 1990 and the Virage Volante convertible would become available in 1992. Shooting Brake versions and the Virage Vantage were not officially offered for sale in the U.S. The car's availability ended after the 1993 model year, due to the lack of passenger airbags and inability to meet emissions regulations.[5]

Virage (2011-2012)[edit]

Virage
2012 Aston Martin Virage coupé.jpg
Overview
Production 2011–2012
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door 2+2 coupé or convertible (Volante)
Related Aston Martin DB9
Powertrain
Engine 6 L V12

In February 2011 it was revealed that a new Aston Martin Virage would be launched at the Geneva Motor Show. Based on the DB9, the Virage was intended to sit in the narrow slot between the basic version and the flagship DBS.

It is available in a 2 seat or 2+2 seating configuration. Virage's hand-assembled 6.0 litre V12 engine delivers 490 hp (365 kW) and torque of 570 Nm. It is capable of doing 0 to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds. The new Virage was available in two versions: Coupé or Volante (convertible).[6][7]

In series 17, episode 2 of Top Gear, James May said that the Virage is the "in-the-middle" version that is sharper than the DB9 but not as aggressive as the DBS. However, he was unhappy that the Virage is just "another pointless bone-shaking racing car",[8] and made many complaints about the ride comfort, stating that its lack of comfort was a direct result of it having been tested at the Nürburgring, because too much emphasis was put on handling, and too little effort was put on comfort. It set a lap time of 1:24.4 at the Top Gear Test Track.

Rear view of Virage Volante

It was featured in Forza Motorsport 4 via the "November Speed DLC Pack".

Aston Martin has announced that the current Virage will be discontinued after a mere 18 months of production, as the distinctions between it, the DB9, and the DBS were simply too slim.[9] Only just over 1,000 units were built in a year and a half; while not a success by Aston Martin's standards of today it is worth noting that this is nearly the same amount as were built of the previous series over an eleven-year period.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (March 1991). Automobil Revue 1991 (in German/French) 86. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 163. ISBN 3-444-00514-8. 
  2. ^ Autocar & Motor, Aug. 15, 1990, p. 29.
  3. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (6 March 1997). Automobil Revue 1997 (in German/French) 92. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 151. ISBN 3-444-10479-0. 
  4. ^ a b c Automobil Revue 1997, p. 153
  5. ^ Mateja, Jim (22 June 1997). "DB7 is a shout from long-hushed Aston Martin". Chicago Tribune. 
  6. ^ Steve Cropley (23 February 2011). "Aston brings back the Virage". Autocar.co.uk. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Chris Knapman (23 February 2011). "Aston Martin brings back the Virage". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "Aston Martin Virage test (Series 17, Episode 2) - BBC Top Gear". 
  9. ^ Ramsey, Jonathon (2012-09-04). "Aston Martin Virage discontinued after short lifespan". AutoBlog.com. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
1. Kevin Blick (September 1990). "Anglophyle Style". Sports Car International 6.9: 22–27. 
2. Covello, Mike, updated by, Standard Catalog of Imported Cars: 1946–2002, Krause Publications, Iola, WI, U.S.A., 2002.

External links[edit]