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Aston unveils striking Rapide

2009-09-16 07:25
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Aston Martin
Model Rapide
Engine 6l, V12
Power 350kW @ 6 000r/min
Torque 600Nm @ 5 000r/min
Transmission Six-speed auto
Zero To Hundred 5.3 sec
Top Speed 303km/h
Fuel Tank 90l
Weight 1 950kg
Boot Size 301l
ABS Yes, with EBD, EBA, HBA
Tyres f: 245/40 R20 r: 295/35 R20
Front Suspension Double-wishbones, coil-springs, adaptive dampers
Rear Suspension Double-wishbones, coil-springs, adaptive dampers
Maserati’s Quattroporte has finally reneged position as the world’s most elegant four-door performance car after the unveiling of Aston Martin’s Rapide.

Although Porsche beat it to market by a healthy margin with the dynamically impeccable (yet heinously styled) Panamera, Aston Martin’s unveiling of the Rapide at Frankfurt left no argument as to which car is now the most elegant four-door performance solution around.

The new four-door has only served to enhance Gaydon’s reputation as purveyor of the world most aesthetically excellent product portfolio.

This is especially relevant after the hideous Lagonda SUV concept nearly sullied Aston's reputation at the Geneva show earlier this year.

Stretched DB9?

Essentially a four-door DB9, the Rapide is only 150kg heavier than its Coupe sibling, despite two extra doors and a host of luxury trinkets to accommodate four, instead of two, people.

Bumper-to-bumper Rapide is 290mm more substantial than DB9, yet weight balance is near perfect in a 51/49 front bias.

We won’t bother elaborating on the styling merits of the new car - suffice to say you only need to gloss over the image gallery to appreciate the magnificence…

Powering Rapide is an all-alloy V12 with a swept capacity of 6l and quad-camshaft valvegear. Power peaks at an engine speed of 6 000r/min to a value of 350kW, with peak rotational force factoring in at 600Nm.

Drive is distributed to the a limited-slip rear differential via a carbon-fibre propeller shaft. The shift regime is controlled within an automatic transmission sporting six-ratios, which can be overridden via Touchtronic paddle-shift capability from the helm.

Bootspace is good (301l) yet well shy of Panamera's 445l capacity.

Quick enough

On a perfect surface Aston claims those 295/35 R20 rear Bridgestone Potenzas will provide enough grip for a 5.3 second 0-100km/h run – hardly Panamera Turbo stuff, yet swift all the same.

Rapide’s power and gearing run out of ideas at around 303km/h.

The car promises to deliver keen driving dynamics when lateral and decelerative forces are at play too.

Suspended independently at each wheel corner by double-wishbones, with five-position adaptive damping ensuring exemplarary bodyroll control, Rapide is allegedly Nurburgring certified.

Rapide’s DSC is refreshingly simple too, featuring only two modes - as it should be. ‘On’ is the default setting, and after depressing the DSC button for five seconds, it goes ‘off’, which should plenty of sideways action with the rear slippy diff in full cry.

Brakes are substantial 390mm dual cast discs fore (actuated by six-piston callipers) and 360mm rotors at the back, pressed into action by four-piston callipers.

Rear seats are mounted higher than the fronts. Playing Aston Martin product placement DVDs (like any of the recent James Bond movies, as seen in this image) on the infortainment system is not the last word in subtlety.

Classy cabin

The cabin is exquisitely designed and trimmed (though the layout looks remarkably similar to a Panamera).

An acoustically impeccable Bang&Olufsen sound system does its best to usurp the 6l V12’s exhaust bypass valve addled acoustics at liberal throttle openings.

Notable options include cooling functionality for all four seats, colour matching brake callipers (in red, silver or black), a volumetric and tilt sensitive alarm upgrade (a must for South African customers) and twin rear seat entertainment screens.

The first Rapide deliveries are expected by early next year.

With the cars being assembled at a facility in Graz, Austria, outstanding build quality should be a given.


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