The Virage was Aston Martin’s replacement for the decades-old V8 models. Introduced at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1988, 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 remained the exclusive, expensive, and hand-built king of Astons. It was replaced after 2000 by the similarly exclusive V12 Vanquish supercar. The V8 Vantage name will reappear on a new entry-level model in 2005. 1050 of all related models was produced.
The design was fresh and modern, looking more like a Lagonda than the V8 Vantage it replaced. Indeed, the chassis was an evolution of the Lagonda’s, with its de Dion tube rear suspension and double wishbones in front. To cut costs, many of the less-important pieces came from other companies. 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 purchased Jaguar shortly after the Virage debuted.
The Aston Martin Virage was a large, heavy car, but the 4-valve 5.3 L (5340 cc/325 in³) V8 engine’s prodigious 350 ft·lbf (475 N·m) torque elevated its performance to near supercar 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 330 hp (246 kW) engine with its Callaway-designed heads and Weber-Marelli fuel injection. "Nothing sounds quite like an Aston V8," they concluded. The 1790 kg (3946 lb) car could reach 158 mph (254 km/h).