DRIVEN’s West Coast correspondent Jonathon Ramsey recently got some wheel time with the new Aston Martin Virage. Here’s his report from the field:

Yes, we’re here to talk about the Aston Martin Virage – but in order to understand the Virage what we really need to talk about is Snickers.

Yes, that Snickers, that wax-paper wrapped chunk of chocolate, nougat, peanuts and caramel modestly proclaiming that it “Provides Substantial Satisfaction.”

The new Aston reminds us of the hunger we didn’t know we had

Snickers, you see, has delivered chocolate-covered chuckles by reminding us of the hunger we didn’t know we had, the kind of hunger that overcomes us so quietly that we lapse into a state beyond crankiness: that of a snarky Betty White during pick-up football or Don Rickles dropping the wrong kind of knowledge at a party.

Snickers, in that case, is just the thing you need when you least realize you needed it.

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And that, fair readers, happens to describe the Aston Martin Virage. Perfectly.

Need is a strong word, we’ll admit. And getting this far without a Virage has probably not turned you into a bitter Joe Pesci.

Nevertheless, the similarity is inescapable – we simply didn’t realize how much we relished the Virage until we drove it.

It’s indeed something singular, not merely a mildly tweaked iteration of the DB9

Previous to the drive, in fact, we thought it unnecessary, perhaps even a bit rude, Aston trying to fool us into thinking that the alluringly and historically named Virage (harkening back to Aston’s Virage model from 1988-2000) was something singular, not merely a mildly tweaked iteration of the DB9.

We didn’t think the car had a point. Then, upon driving it, we realized that not only does it have a point, but it makes the point we had meant to make for some time: Yes.

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Before the Virage no one thought Aston needed a car to slot between the 470-horsepower, $187,615 DB9 and 510-hp, $271,660 DBS.

The Virage slides a scalpel down the median on the horsepower chart, rocking up with 490 English Shire horses, but cuts much closer to the DB9 on price, starting at $209,995 (the Volante increases the ante to $224,995.)

A front end made a little angrier with a new grille, bumper and front fenders

Yet, it is within reason to think of the Virage as an amended DB9.

It is built on the same VH platform that supports every other Aston bar the Cygnet.

It has the same mien, the DB9’s isurus-inspired front end made a little angrier with a new grille, bumper and front fenders.

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The silhouette is the same, but the length of the Virage is stressed by that creased welt masquerading as a side sill.

The rear diffuser gets a tinted blade among its nether regions to highlight the extent of its amplitude.

As Aston’s CEO says, ‘If you don’t like the look, buy another car’

If you’re not convinced by the aesthetic alterations, the retort that company CEO Ulrich Bez offered up to such questioning was, “Our cars look like Aston Martins. If you don’t like the look, buy another car.”

And we admit, he’s exactly right. Or maybe he just needs a Snickers.

Still, the Virage’s engine is the same V12 unit in the DB9 – two V6s yoked together – with the substitution of a revised intake that provides the boost in power.

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Word in certain circles is that the Virage will run to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds.

True, there are original accoutrements inside, such as the new (and overdue) satellite navigation developed with Garmin, heated seats and a 700-watt Aston Martin Premium Audio.

The driving experience is totally new, as in never before seen

Carbon brakes, an option on the DB9, are standard on this car. And the Adaptive Damping System offering ten different settings takes a bow for the first time.

But do these things make a brand new Aston? Yes. Because the driving experience is totally new, as in never before seen.

It is cockle-warming, how jolly bloody good this car bisects the glories of the two coupes on either side of it.

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Put it in Sport and do your own shifting with the magnesium paddles behind the wheel, and you’ll find it more than a DB9 and milder than a DBS – or put more descriptively, a panther in its silken ferocity, the Pope in its willingness to forgive.

A panther in its silken ferocity, the Pope in its willingness to forgive

We didn’t know we wanted it. Now we do.

If Aston can learn anything from the makers of that 81-year-old candy bar, we think it is this: Aston should never let us get this unwittingly hungry for another one of its products again.

JR