Friday, October 2, 2009

Aston Martin Rapide Price and pictures

The 2010 Aston Martin Rapide is closely related to the company's two-door DB9 and V8 Vantage coupes and convertibles. All use a mostly aluminum rear-wheel-drive architecture that Aston calls "VH" (for "Vertical/Horizontal"). Because it's easily varied in wheelbase and other dimensions, this platform is a money-saver that allows all Astons to be built in the same factory with much of the same tooling and componentry. The VH was also a time-saver in developing the Rapide concept, which went together in a scant eight months or so.

Compared to the first "VH," the DB9 coupe, the Rapide is some 10 inches longer in wheelbase and about a foot longer overall, but only half an inch wider and a surprisingly modest 308 pounds heavier. Despite the stretched body and extra doors, design chief Marek Reichmann has preserved the sleek grace of Aston coupes, which many judge as some of the best-looking cars around.

The Rapide concept used a tuned 480 horsepower version of the company's 6.0-liter V12 engine. The production 2010 Aston Martin Rapide should have it too, though perhaps with further tweaking to, say, an even 500 horses. Appropriate for a sporting but posh sedan, there's likely to be only one transmission, a rear-mounted six-speed automatic with manual shift paddles. Suspension, steering, brakes and other underskin components should also come from the DB9, though modified where needed for this longer and heavier car.

Performance? Aston isn't saying yet, but the Rapide should be almost as fast and agile as its DB9 parent. We'd guess 0-60 mph in the low-five-second range, a top speed of around 160 mph, and unusually sharp luxosedan handling, helped by front/rear weight distribution that shouldn't vary much from the DB9's ideal 50/50.

A Notable Feature of the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide

Design chief Reichmann says he "wanted to make the most beautiful four-door car in the world." He's certainly made one of the prettiest four-door hatchbacks, the only one in the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide's lofty price bracket until the Porsche Panamera comes out. The Rapide's sizeable but artfully concealed rear liftgate opens onto a fairly spacious, flat-floor cargo hold. The concept interior had fold-down rear seats, so the production model should too. Most other interior hardware will come from the DB9 save a full-length center console. The concept sported twin fixed translucent roof panels made of polycarbonate and a chilled compartment in the cargo deck for 007's bottle of Bollinger. These attention-getters probably will not make it to the showroom, but count on British-traditional leather-and-wood trim, the plushest of carpeting, and jewel-like detailing for instruments and controls

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