Four-door passenger luxury comfort; Aston Martin style; powerful engine
While design and luxury are important parts of every Aston Martin, it really starts with the engine. The Rapide has a front-mounted 6-liter V12 with 477 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque mated to a Touchtronic 2 6-speed shift-by-wire automatic with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. It's capable of a top speed of 188 mph, and a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds -- and when driven at speed, the side windows move up into the window seal for a quieter ride.
The chassis is bonded aluminum, and the body is made of aluminum, magnesium and composite -- all of which save significant weight. The Rapide sits on standard 20-inch wheels, with front and rear double-wishbone suspension that incorporates anti-squat, anti-dive and active damping for a smooth ride even during sport driving. The Rapide has all the latest in safety and performance technology, like anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist and positive torque control.
Aston Martin had to change a few things in its design language when adding a couple of doors. The swan wing doors open at 12 degrees to avoid scuffing their bottoms on curbs, and the swing of the doors has been increased to 70 degrees to make it easier to get in and out. The side strake has been elongated on the Rapide to meet the rear doors. It also got new headlights and rear lights comprised of 360 LEDs.
The interior is where the Rapide sets itself apart. The front seats are standard-issue Aston Martin, with hand-stitched leather and position memory, Bluetooth, satellite radio, navigation system, automatic temperature control.
The surprise is that the rear seats are standard-issue Aston, too -- no skimping on quality or comfort. Two individual sport seats are situated to give rear passengers views to the side and front. The center console continues from the front compartment through to the rear, with storage for all four passengers. Optional LCD screens can be mounted in the back of the front seats. The two rear seats can fold flat, which more than doubles the cargo space of the trunk.
Bang & Olufson tailored the sound system specifically for the Rapide, creating the 1000W BeoSound Rapide with 15 speakers and Acoustic Lens Technology. ALT, as Bang & Olufson calls it, senses how many people are in the car and adjusts the sound for the number and location of the passengers.
Options are mostly aesthetic, and include a choice of wood trim, color-keyed steering wheels, personalized sill plaques, different wheel finishes and brake caliper finishes. Cooled front and rear seats can be added, as can the rear entertainment system with LCD screens, wireless headphones and a 6-disc DVD player.
The Rapide is a versatile car: the powerful engine and performance handling make it a sports car; the four seats and flexible cargo space make it a practical car; and the refined interior and advanced technology make it a luxury car. It's also an exclusive, largely hand-built car from a storied English auto company, which means a starting price tag near $200,000. That price buys one of the best-performing, most stylish touring cars available.
The Rapide is the first production four-door sports car from the British automaker. All four doors use Aston's 'swan wing' configuration, meaning they slightly open up and out to make entry and exit easy for all occupants. The trunk is large enough to accommodate the belongings of all those passengers -- including skis. Aston Martin didn't sacrifice its sporting heritage in building a sedan. The Rapide has the same hand-built V12 engine found in the Vantage and DB9, capable of 447 hp. The Rapide is capable of reaching 60 mph in about 5 seconds -- not bad for a 4-door.
The Rapide if full of firsts for Aston -- it's also the first car to be designed after the manufacturer was released from Ford Motor Company's orbit in 2007, and it's the first car to be built at Aston's new facility in Austria.
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