One of the problems faced by builders of instantly recognisable vehicles such as Aston Martin, Land Rover and Volkswagen is the need to make new models look new while retaining the brand's signature design language.

VW got it horribly wrong - twice - with the new Beetle, but these pictures show, better than words can tell, how magnificently Aston Martin have got it right with the new-for-2013 DB9, which replaces the short-lived Virage.

Available from launch in either Coupe or Volante body styles, the new BD9 takes styling cues from the Virage, blends them with detail work from the classic 'coachbuilt' era and adds a distinct 'flip' to the boot lid (it was called a 'Kamm' tail when it was first seen on the DB6 in the 1960s).

The grille - derived from the One-77 - has five horizontal vanes, each chamfered to create an aerofoil profile, while a large lower grille feeds cooling air to the standard-issue Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes.

The grille is designed to break free in a pedestrian collision.

It will move back towards the engine while the curve of the bonnet lifts the pedestrian up and out of harm's way - making it possible for the car to meet future pedestrian safety standards without unsightly add-ons.

Behind it there's a new six-litre V12 engine, that uses fourth-generation technology developed for the new Vanquish flagship, including a revised block, new cylinder heads with dual variable valve timing, bigger throttle bodies, an uprated fuel pump, revised intake manifold and machined, rather than cast, combustion chambers, to deliver a quoted 380kW at 6500 revs and 620Nm at 5500.

That's 30kW and 20Nm better than the previous DB9, as well as 15kW and 50Nm up on the Virage - good enough for a 0-100 sprint in 4.6 seconds and 295km/h flat out.

It drives the rear wheels through six-speed paddle-shift transmission (there’s no manual option) and limit-slip differential, running on 20” painted cast-alloy rims shod with Pirelli P Zero 245/35 rubber in front and 295/30 at the rear.

There's no spare - Aston Martin issues each customer with can of gorilla snot instead.

The interior mixes high-tech and hand-finishing with materials so luxurious they're almost over the top. The all-leather upholstery, for instance, is accented by leather welts between the panels - narrow strips folded over and stitched in place by hand (a very, very skilled job, first seen on the Virage) to give the appearance of 'flat piping', and all the switchgear is made of handcut glass, rather than chrome-plated metal or (heaven forfend) black plastic.

Standard kit includes automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, a reversing camera (borrowed from the four-door Rapide), satnav, power sports seats and climate control, while the list of options is limited only by your imagination and the depth of your pocket.

The 2013 DB9 is available to order now, with South African prices starting from R2.75 million for the Coupé.