Those who have followed Aston Martin’s history know that they have a history of four-door cars that is shaky at best. But the new 2010 Rapide could turn that all around. The Rapide retains the sweeping hood lines that have become the signature look of Astons in recent years,the roofline definitely takes its cues from the company’s coupes, and, of course, there’s a big engine under the hood.
The Rapide first debuted as a concept model back in 2006, when the Ford Motor Company still owned Aston Martin. The following year, when Ford sold the brand, the Rapide concept got the green light and it has finally reached the point where it is ready for production. Those noticing a lot of similarities to Aston’s other cars won’t be surprised to learn that the Rapide is built on the same platform architecture that underpins the company’s DB9, DBS, and Vantage models. The hood and front doors of the Rapide are in fact identical to the DB9′s. But, considering how well those cars perform, the sharing of components is not a bad thing at all.
The engine is the reliable 6.0-liter V12 that is fitted on most every Aston model in the company’s current lineup. It produces 470 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, providing a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds.. That engine is mated to Aston’s Touchtronic 2 six-speed gearbox, which provides an automatic mode or a manual mode with magnesium paddle shifters on the steering column. The gearbox works well for those who want absolute control over their gear changes, but, realistically, most people will just drive in automatic mode for the vast majority of the time, as the computer’s gear selection is spot on.
To accommodate the extra doors and rear seats, the Rapide is a fair bit larger than the other Aston Martin vehicles. When compared to the company’s flagship DB9, the Rapide is about 11.5 inches longer and 418 pounds heavier. In order to maintain the rigidity of the car’s frame (when a frame is stretched in length, it loses torsional resistance), Aston engineers implemented an aluminum bonding process that is used in aircraft, instead of traditional welding.
But, while all of that technical wizardry is impressive, the real interest in the Aston Martin Rapide is that fact that it’s a sedan (Aston calls it a “four-door sports car,” but, come on, it’s a sedan). So how does the back seat hold up? Aston coupes are known for balancing the sporty thrill of being in a powerful car with the creature comforts of a luxury vehicle. The Rapide seeks to retain that sporty feel in the back seat via several methods. First, the rear seats (it has two, individually mounted seats, not a bench), are essentially supportive racing seats like those in the front. Second, Aston’s exterior and interior designers worked together to create sightlines for rear passengers so that they can get the same “barreling down the road” thrill as front seat passengers. And third, the rear seats are decked out with gadgets and creature comforts that are required for cars in this price range.
So is the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide a success? We’ll have to wait a few months before it hits the market, but all signs point to yes. The Rapide seems to combine the sleek allure of the Aston design with the practicality of a four-door car. No word yet on pricing, but it’ll probably be at least $150,000, if not more. Like most Aston models, it won’t sell in huge numbers, but for anybody who thinks that their BMW M5 is a little too common and cheap, the Aston Martin Rapide is the car for you.