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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Aston Martin's Lazy Designers Have Fooled-- Wait, Hang On...

Ceci n'est pas une DB9. No, really...
It has long been said that, since the DB9, all Aston Martins have looked the same. Of course, because I have eyes, I can tell the difference, but some struggle with telling a Virage from a DBS and so on. This is unsurprising because people also have trouble telling generations of Porsche 911 apart, and just paying attention for a second will make that easy too. Yet people still get caught out. However, I would never have suspected Autocar - the UK's oldest car magazine - to be or contain one of those people. The weekly magazine's website has posted "spy photos" of this car, which they call a "facelifted DB9" and describe as being completely undisguised. Maybe the reason for it being undisguised is that it is actually a completely normal, road-registered, privately-owned Virage. Whoops...

I mean seriously, look at the image below:


Literally everything - the Rapide headlights, Virage-only wheels and Virage-only side vent where the chrome flash is right at the top, rather than through the middle like the other AMs, as well as the Virage-only front bumper - is exactly the same. Millimetrically identical. Even Aston Martin wouldn't make two models that were actually just the same car twice.

But what about the back I hear you say? Coming right up:

There. Satisfied, voices in my head?
The iced tail lights and rear bumper are again, one and the same. All the same elements in exactly the same places. So there. Aston Martin's if-the-design-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it attitude to a new model's exterior has fooled professional spy photographers...

...but wait a minute. The boot lid. The Virage has a flat-ish lip arching over the badge, whereas the spied car has a raised quiff and a third brake light. It's just the lid from the DBS (which was recently replaced by the new AM310 Vanquish), but what is it doing on a road-registered Virage? An optional extra, perhaps? A factory accessory or something the customer ordered politely (i.e. with a blank cheque)? Or are we actually looking at a new or facelifted model?

The DB9 does need a lift. After appearing in 2004 the only changes to the outside have been removing a bar from the grille and adding new wheels, with incremental changes underneath to keep the drive fresh. Either a replacement model or a "DB9 Mk.2" is needed to keep people interested in it. There have been rumours in recent days that the Virage will be axed to make room for a Mk.2 DB9, as the two models are so close together already and improving the DB9 (speculated to involve a small power jump) would squeeze the Virage very tightly against the Vanquish II...

...so are we to believe that the silver car in these images really is an updated DB9 after all? What's more, are Aston Martin's designers in Gaydon seriously so out of ideas that all they can think to do to improve the DB9 is to put a quiff spoiler on the back of a Virage and call it finished? I sincerely hope that's not the case, and that this is indeed just a Virage that happens to have a different boot lid on it. Otherwise Aston Martin have seriously lost their touch.

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