2012 Aston Martin Virage: The Drive

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No one needs an Aston Martin in their lives, but life is a damn sight better when you have one.

This is what all the great philosophers--Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, Paul John Teutel--meant by enlightenment. I'm cruising some little Spanish town with my own senior-citizen section cheering me on from a park bench, in Spanish, which means I'm hearing it in italics.

 The air smells sweeter. Music sounds better. It may have been for but a few fleeting moments, but I know my whites looked whiter and my colors were brighter.

Here's how you get to the same utopia. Even if you're exhausted from a week of running around Geneva looking for a cab that doesn't cost $80 one-way to the auto show, you take Aston Martin up on their offer to go drive their latest achingly fabulous sportscar near the ancestral home of bullfighting. Even though it's fracking cold outside. Even though it hails on you. Even though it means you'll miss the first few rounds of the NCAAs while you're strapped in a coach seat, fighting a dead iPad battery and a gassy Irishman for consciousness.

You endure because, even though Spain looks kind of like southern California, and vice versa, this won't be some half-assed two-hour run around Lancaster to the In-N-Out. This will be worth its weight in Facebook posts. Because it's a new Virage. By my count, through old dog-eared copies of Car and Driver, that's only happened twice in a lifetime.

2009 Aston Martin DB9

2009 Aston Martin DB9

The new Virage is the latest classic GT cut from Aston's versatile VH architecture. It's an impeccable tastemaker capable of some very tasty maneuvers.

The Virage coupe and its Volante convertible spin-off are born as the DB9 starts to do a graceful age-out. It's a still a stunning touring car in its own right--if you need proof, look up--but the DB9's been on the block a while, and in most ways the Virage twins supersede it.

Pair them side by side or even just on screen, and it's clear how much the Virage owes to the DB9. It's also been cruising through some of the vapor trails left behind by the gorgeous Rapide and the raging One-77. The swan doors are pure Rapide; the blocky haunches, the tornado line and long fender vents should wear One-77 labels inside their couture linings. In contrast, the Virage gets a taller hood and a slimmed-out front fascia, a more abrupt conclusion to its rear side windows, and so, so many LEDs. It's clean, impressively spare, and it doesn't need the chromed jewelry that masks flaws on the surfaces of some other exotics.

2012 Aston Martin Virage

2012 Aston Martin Virage

Aston's hallmark for the past decade has been perfectly balanced design, and it carries through from the Virage's aluminum skin to its cockpit. The controls can have a Matterhorn-like learning curve, but there's not a hair out of place. Even outre trim choices like bamboo suit its exquisite jewel-box style. If you can't love the Virage's piped leather trim or its chronograph-style gauges, your track suit's probably binding you right now in ways we'd rather not think about.

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