Monday, November 30, 2009

Aston styling on Merc's SLS

The Mercedes-Benz SLS has a transaxle dual-clutch transmission and the most advanced version yet of AMG’s venerable 6.2l V8 engine. Now thanks to Kicherer, you can have it finished in regulation ugly…
You knew it would only be a matter of time before Germany’s insane aftermarket tuners would start flooding the internet with renderings of their take on the rather striking Mercedes-Benz SLS.

Merc’s new in-house designed supercar lacks for nothing in terms of aesthetics, yet German tuner Kicherer (usually one of the more elegant Merc modifiers) believes the car could do with some resurfacing.

Why? Don’t ask us.

Kicherer’s attempt at refurbishing the SLS design leaves one with a car which looks like something Aston Martin’s design team would have drawn up whilst drunk at the end of year Christmas office party…

Beyond a bizarre rooftop air-intake, the Kicherer car’s most disturbing styling change is the leering oversized grille.

Although this grille design looks great when applied to Aston Martin products (admittedly in a more oval, symmetrical shaped form), it really looks terribly out of place on the SLS.

The boys from Stockach have not released any production timeframe (or technical) details surrounding the SLS upgrade.

You can expect the kit to be ready for fitment around the middle of next year though - when the first SLS models are delivered to customers in Europe.

How many European Mercedes-Benz SLS owners will be comfortable taking up this option on the Kicherer SLS kit is impossible to say – yet we suspect the number will be negligible.

With the option of gold finishing for that grille treatment you can see exactly where most of Kicherer’s business will be coming from - a Mercedes-Benz market with plenty of sand.

2010 Aston Martin Rapide on the road

An innocuous set of scoop photos of the new Aston Martin Rapide on the road – but it’s also the first time we’ve seen people in the back seats of Gaydon’s new sporting saloon.

We’ve had to switch our expectations of the Rapide; a supercar limo, it is not. Rather than rivalling the Merc S-class or Maserati Quattroporte, the Rapide is more like a DB9+.

Yes, the Rapide’s design is yet another variation upon the DB9 style – stretched this time to liberate enough room for some slightly more capacious back seats.

Aston describes the Rapide as a 2+2, managing our expectation of quite how roomy the rear pews will be. But today’s spyshots reveal that real people – adults even – can fit in.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Aston Martin DBS Volante LIVE atGeneva Motor Show img_1

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Soft-top Volante version lets you enjoy all the fun of Aston's hardcore DB9-based DBS with the wind in your hair

We like - Epic engine, beautiful looks, bespoke feel, ride, steering feel, plays the refined cruiser and extrovert supercar with equal aplomb
We don't like - Bodykit possibly a bit lairy, auto option dulls the excitement, more manic DBS engine less suited to the heavier cabrio, tiny boot, the price

Aston Martin DBS Volante

First Impressions
The 'Power, Beauty, Soul' that flashes across the instruments when you fire up the £175K Aston Martin DBS Volante is, admittedly, a bit cheesy. After all, it's not like you need reminding of this.

Because if there's one thing an Aston Martin has in abundance it's character. Astons have always been a bit special, up there with Ferrari in terms of heritage and emotional appeal yet as British as James Bond, the quintessential Aston man.

And this new soft-top version of the DBS does everything in its power to tug at your heartstrings. Equally gorgeous inside and out, it's blessed with one of the great engines too.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Based on the DB9 but tougher, faster and louder in both voice and styling, the Volante version of the DBS has 510hp at its disposal, the better for chasing down Ferraris, Bentleys and Mercs.

A traditional fabric roof has meant no compromise in style too, especially compared to the contortions Ferrari has contrived on the California to accommodate a folding metal hardtop.

The Aston is a real beauty, but underpins this with real high tech. The chassis is made of bonded aluminium while DBS spec adds carbon fibre wings, bonnet and boot lid with the patented 'surface veil' to ensure a smooth paint finish.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Based on the same 6.0-litre V12 used in the DB9, in DBS spec power climbs from 470hp to 510hp. Interestingly torque is actually down, at 420lb ft from the DB9's 443lb ft.

This underlines the DBS's more racy nature, the engine tuned for high-rev horsepower rather than cruisey low-end pulling torque. And you need to get a few revs on the dial to really unleash its best.

Given the noise it makes when the exhaust valve opens at 4,000rpm this is no hardship though, this significant shift in character more enjoyable than ever with the roof down.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

The optional Touchtronic automatic gearbox is smooth and effective too with a pleasingly punchy paddle shift override. But it's nice to see Aston still offers a manual option for those craving more involvement.

The lighter California's sub four-second 0-62mph sprint and 193mph top speed beat the Aston's 4.3 seconds and 191mph but not by much. Both lack the punch of the Bentley Continental GTC and Mercedes SL65 AMG though.

But in comparison with the normally aspirated Aston engine the turbocharged V12s in the Merc and Bentley are crude blunderbusses - all shock and awe. To continue the analogy, the DBS is more elegant, hand-crafted Holland & Holland shotgun.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Ride and handling
Though light on its feet there's a maturity and weightiness to the Aston's controls underlining the DBS Volante's position at the top of the range, at least until the One-77 arrives.

Like the Ferrari California and forthcoming Mercedes SLS roadster - another likely rival to the Volante version of the DBS - the Aston Martin has a front-mid-mounted engine and gearbox in the rear for improved weight distribution.

And though it's a big car its weight is kept within the wheelbase, making it feel more nimble and predictable than you'd expect. It also rides with real poise and comfort, with only a hint of cabrio shimmy on bumpy roads.

The Adaptive Damping System offers an additional, firmer setting Aston Martin says is "ideal for circuit driving", though it's doubtful any DBS Volante owners will be exploring this ability and it's best left alone on the road.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Modern Aston Martin cabins really are in a different league, owing more to top-end hi-fi design than conventional car interiors. A theme reflected by the exclusive Bang & Olufsen BeoSound stereo, complete with funky pop-up speakers.

These even automatically compensate for the additional wind noise when the roof is down, carbon fibre door fittings and even a lightweight weave to the carpets typical of the theme of weight saving with no compromise in luxury.

Lowering the roof lets you show off this fabulous interior to everyone too. Only the rather cheesy embroidered DBS logos on the seats impact on the otherwise classy tone, though you can of course tailor the trim to taste.

The Thinsulate-lined hood is cosy and, bar a bit of tyre roar, offers great refinement. And when the sun comes out it disappears in just 14 seconds at speeds up to 30mph. It does eat into boot space though.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

Economy and safety
We'll gloss over economy because if you're in the market for a 500hp-plus cabrio it's unlikely to feature high on your list of concerns. But what about safety?

Well, ceramic brakes are standard and, once woken, offer massive, easily modulated stopping power. The stability control is kept busy in the wet too but, should the worst happen, pop-up roll hoops deploy from the rear deck.

MSN Cars verdict - four stars out of five

MSN Cars verdict
If you're after an open top Aston you could argue the standard DB9's character fits the Volante mould better, the hardcore DBS accoutrements ultimately more suited to the more focused coupe. But we're splitting hairs.

Even with the more aggressive styling the DBS Volante has class, style and character the Ferrari California can't touch. Its sky-high price ensures exclusivity too, the DBS Volante reserved for those for whom only the best will do.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage

Aston Martin V12 Vantage
Fitting a V12 in a Vantage was no easy feat. The effort was worth it, though – you end up with 510bhp and 420lb ft of torque compared with the 420bhp and 346lb ft in the V8 version.

As with any Vantage, the driving experience is a physical, manly sort of affair – a long-travel and heavy clutch, weighty steering, firm accelerator pedal, rock-hard ride and a gearshift that’s like manoeuvring a girder around.

It’s the sort of car you need to grab by the scruff of the neck, which is fine when you can find a clear road in the dry, but not so much fun in traffic or when the roads are wet. The near-slick tyres don’t have too much purchase on damp surfaces, either.

Still, the throttle pedal is a wonderfully delicate tool for metering out the power, and the car’s certainly quick when you get the chance to use it. Not as quick as you might think, though, in the exalted world of modern supercars – and there’s the V12 Vantage’s main problem. RS

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aston Martin Rapide in San Francisco

Aston Martin's Rapide looking right at home in the Palace Hotel

Over the years, San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, the first grand hotel west of the Rockies, has played host to many an international luminary. The morning of the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the world-renowned tenor, Enrico Caruso was shaken out of bed in the Palace. So perhaps it is fitting that the automotive world’s latest earth shattering virtuoso was hosted amid the gleaming marble, polished brass and delicately crafted wrought iron lacing the Palace Hotel’s majestic interior.

There, the all-new Aston Martin Rapide looked entirely appropriate blissfully ensconced like the piece of ultra-rare and exquisitely fine art it is. But this is fine art that rolls. Aston’s first four-door since production of the very rare Lagonda sedan ended in 1989, Rapide, at first glance, simply appears to be yet another strikingly beautiful Aston coupe. Upon closer inspection though, a second pair of Aston Martin’s signature swan wing doors reveals themselves.

Francesca Smith, Aston’s charmingly gracious representative explained, in her lovely lilting British accent, this stop in San Francisco is part of a seven-city tour around the U.S. to give potential owners an opportunity get up close and personal with a car most people have only seen in photographs – or at the Frankfurt Auto Show this past September.

“The people coming here today have either already placed deposits for the car, or are very close to making a purchase decision.” said Smith. “This gives them an opportunity to see the car in the flesh, select the color combination they’d like, and just basically reaffirm that Rapide is all they expect it to be.”

And indeed, as I stood there discussing the car with the ever-affable Smith, busy business people wafted in to admire the curvaceous flanks of the stunningly beautiful automobile. One guy announced broadly as he arrived, “ I have seven minutes, what’s the story?” Another group flew down from Western Canada in a chartered jet to bask in the glory of the vaunted automobile.

Smith continued, “ The car goes on sale in June, so this gives our customers an early preview. Right now, this is currently the only production Aston Martin Rapide in the world.”

With that quite firmly in mind, I very gingerly sat behind the substantial steering wheel and looked around.

As to be expected, Rapide is hand-finished in a manner thoroughly befitting its estimated $200,000 price tag. The interior features a combination of blue and bone colored leather complimented by Rapide's lusciously luxuriant walnut and aluminum trim. But just saying that doesn’t quite do it justice, you have to see it to feel it. The compartment looks more like that of a concept car than a production automobile.

Rear seat passengers enjoy video entertainment via monitors placed in the back of the front seats and can benefit from entirely separate programming on each monitor if they desire. Bang and Olufsen provides aural pleasure via 15 speakers placed strategically around the cabin.

A center console, on which reside controls for the climate control functions divides the rear compartment. Additionally, the rear seats are heated and cooled.

The boot (that’s trunk for those of you who are less than fluent in English) is accessed via a hatch that opens to reveal a nicely configured cargo area, one more than capable of handling soft luggage for four (yes, a set of fitted luggage is available). A partition keeps cargo separate from the passenger compartment, or it can be removed to provide even more cargo capacity. Yet another removable partition blocks the view inside the cargo area from prying eyes outside the Aston Martin. The rear seats fold for even more carrying space and Aston provides a cover that can be placed over them to prevent scratches.

Up front, underneath the bonnet (that’s hood y’all), resides the 470-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 engine that can also be found in the DB9 – Rapide’s closest relative in the current Aston Martin lineup. As I couldn’t do acceleration runs inside the Palace, I can’t speak to 0-60 times or how the car feels on the move. But given its 50-50 weight distribution, front mid-engine configuration (the engine is positioned behind the centerline of the front wheels), ultra-smooth and powerful V12, and the fact that it must exist alongside some of the most desirable sports cars in the world, there is no reason to expect the Aston Martin Rapide’s performance to be anything other than well – Rapide.

The Aston will be in Chicago from the 23rd to the 24th of November, Manhattan from the 2nd to the 5th of December, Charlotte, North Carolina from the 9th to the 10th of December, Palm Beach from the 14th to the 17th of December, and Dallas from the 21st to the 23rd of December.

Rare Aston DB4 GT for auction

Aston Martin DB4 GT fq

The Aston Martin DB4 GT is a rare breed with only 75 units built between 1959 and 1963. Of those exclusive vehicles, a mere six are the coveted lightweight models that cut weight by using aluminum components (instead of steel) and have items like the radio, speakers, and heater removed. Understandably it's rare that one comes up for sale, but this January, RM Auctions will be offering a pristine example at their next auction.

The car going up for sale is chassis #0175/L, the last DB4 GT Lightweight built. It underwent a complete restoration in the mid-Nineties where it received upgrades like Dunlop racing tyres, Dayton wire wheels, and a four-point roll bar. The car was never competitively raced in the Sixties, but several owners have competed the car in various vintage races at tracks in the States.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Aston built outside UK

The Rapide model is also their first four-seat model since the Lagonda Rapide in 1961.

So why is the Rapide being built at a factory in Graz, Austria, instead of the firm's state-of-the-art HQ at Gaydon, Warwickshire?

When the Rapide was first planned three years ago there was no prediction of a global recession and Gaydon was working at full capacity.

New models were on the way and there was simply not enough production space at the factory to build the Rapide.

So Aston chose Magna Steyr, a specialist car plant in Graz which already builds models for BMW and Mercedes, with 240 Austrian workers preparing to build up to 2,000 Rapides a year from early 2010.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4

Hang on a minute, here I am, strapped in and ready to go, but where’s the starter button? Ah, I see, it’s by a key. Hence the expression ‘turn-key’ racer.


Nicholas Mee Racing’s Team Manager Craig Dawson soon comes to the rescue and the 430bhp, 4.7-litre Aston V8 fires up. The car, an ex-Aston Martin Asia Cup chassis, bought this year by the team for a long-standing customer and upgraded to full GT4 specification, has been transported to Goodwood and is just one of several – mainly road – cars attending a private event organised by the West London-based marque specialist.

The fabulous circuit, which was just being prepared for the Revival, is a rewarding track but has to be handled carefully. Building up the pace in the yellow Aston, you soon realise how much potential it has as a club racer, track-day car or an entry into relatively high levels of motorsport, such as the FIA/SRO GT4 Championship.

I decided on setting the traction control to ‘on’, flying in the face of regular racing practice but done out of respect to the Sussex track’s very fast, flowing sweeps and curves. In fact, after just a couple of familiarisation laps you soon understand why it’s normally bypassed, as the frequent slides are arrested by the electronics leading to a series of twitches across the Tarmac.

No, on another day it would be traction control ‘off’ – at a nice open circuit with plenty of run-off to explore the limits of the car; limits that are probably quite high but well matched to the output of the engine. For the cognoscenti, the Asia Cup cars differ slightly from those competing in European GT4 rounds by having a characteristic roof-mounted air scoop, bigger front discs and revised suspension.

Strapped into the racing seat, the view ahead is familiar V8 Vantage but with all the beautiful leather and wood trim removed. It really does start with a key and the gearlever (and ratios and final drive) is standard, too. This car is a manual, although many were raced with the Sportshift (paddle) transmission.

All the controls are similar to the road car’s so there’s no heavy clutch or too-solid brake pedal to contend with. You can just get in the V8 Vantage GT4 and drive it. Which is the whole point.

Please be careful with kerbs, though. Getting into the swing of things I allowed myself a trip across the edge of the track on the turn-in to St Mary’s. This resulted in a big hop that may have been caught by my innate car control.

Or the on-board electronics. So maybe the traction control decision was correct, after all...

Coming out of Lavant the power can be gradually poured on and by the end of the straight the Aston is really moving. Braking for Woodcote and steering back through the chicane, there’s more (controllable) slipping and sliding and, with a nod to an admiring pit crew, it’s off for another enjoyable lap.

In fact, the whole Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 experience is entertaining and to be recommended. Nicholas Mee can sell you a 2010-spec, 4.7-litre car, or there may still be one of the paddleshift 4.3-litre Asia Cup cars available at a considerable saving over new.

2009 Aston Martin DB9 Volante Review

2009 Aston Martin DB9 Volante
Let's say a clandestine organization asked you, for your country, to "take care of" an enemy of the state at tonight's performance of Tosca at The Met. And let's say this organization gave you the choice of any Aston Martin in which to conduct the evening. Which Aston would you choose? If you said the DBS, we hope you've arranged bail. You're getting caught. Quickly.

Despite its impressiveness, the DBS is just a little over the top. Driving it says to the world, "I'm rich (or I have rich backers), I'm sociopathic (or at least self-centered), and I kill people (or I've had them killed)." There's no denying this. Attempt to pull off your mission at the opera and you'll be fingered before the body hits the ground. "It was the guy in the suit and the DBS," the rattled, blood-spattered socialites will tell the authorities just before you're whisked off to a damp, underground bunker in a country created by the breakup of the USSR.

The better choice? The 2009 Aston Martin DB9 – even the Volante. It's got just enough gentleman to remove you from suspicion, but the faintest hint of evil to make fearsome things happen when needed. We had it for a weekend, yet despite the urge and a twitchy trigger finger we never got the chance to test out our "cleaning" abilities.

Aston Martin Rapide Makes U.S. Debut

2010 Aston Martin Rapide. Photos coutesy of Aston Martin

Aston Martin will debut it's new Rapide, the four-door sports sedan today at an exclusive party at the ultra-trendy SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills today.

At the debut, potential customers, media and Aston Martin fans will get a chance to view the Rapide up close and personal before it heads out on a seven-city tour of the United States. The Rapide concept was first shown at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show and in full production form earlier this year t the Frankfurt Auto Show. The Rapide and the Aston Martin "party machine" will travel this winter between Los Angles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Charlotte, Palm Beach and Dallas before making the return trip to England.

"Rapide is the culmination of the Aston Martin range of sports cars, a car that seals the revival of a truly admired marquee," said Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin CEO. "There is now an Aston Martin for every taste and for every use."

The Rapide is powered by Aston Martin's tried and true 6.0 liter V12 engine. Producing 470 horsepower and 443 pound feet of torque, the car will be no slouch. When mated to the six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic gearbox, expect a 0 to 60 mph time under 5 seconds and a top speed of 180+ mph.

The Rapide is constructed on Aston Martin's VH (Vertical/Horizontal) architecture and shares the same basic underpins as the DB9. The Rapide will be the first Aston Martin built outside of the United Kingdom thanks to a partnership with Magna Steyr.

It goes without saying that the Rapide will compete directly with Porsche's Panamera and Maserati's Quattroporte. But in my humble opinion, the Rapide is certainly the best looking of the bunch. Yes, the Panamera has much more usable and spacious back seat, but is, well... hideous.

Aston Martin design director, Marek Reichman, said this about the Rapide's styling, "There is a real sense of proportion with this car, akin to a tailored suit; the new double grill gives more presence on the road while the iconic signature side strake has been lengthened through to the rear doors to enhance its lateral proportions in a subtle, yet elegant way. The car's purity makes it look right from every angle."

The Rapide will be priced around the $200,000 mark, making it expensive as well as beautiful Aston Martin says it will build between 1000 and 2000 units per year with the first deliveries expected in the spring of 2010.

Aston Martin DBS Volante Road Test

I am aware that there are people in the world who can afford to buy an Aston Martin with about as much thought as they would buy a set of underpants, and I look forward to becoming one of their number in the near future, but for now the idea of any car whose price tag extends way, way into six figures is a slightly intimidating one, so I would expect the DBS Volante to be pretty damn special.

Aston Martin DBS 07 - Volante.

And so it is, even in Aston Martin's own terms. It is the more expensive of the two DBS models the company makes, the roughly £9000 difference between the Volante and the CoupĂ© being accounted for by the Volante's folding roof, which incidentally reduces luggage capacity from a mere 186 litres to an even merer 135 litres. If that matters.

The two are mechanically identical, having a 510bhp six-litre V12 petrol engine and a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or, for an extra £2900 or so, a six-speed Touchtronic automatic. The Volante is 105kg heavier because of the strengthening needed to compensate for the lack of a solid roof, but strangely Aston Martin quotes identical performance (impressive) and fuel economy and CO2 (embarrassing) figures for both.

Aston Martin DBS 08 - Volante.

The Touchtronic gearbox doesn't seem to affect performance figures and actually improves fuel economy slightly, not that this is going to make any difference whatever to someone for whom the price of the gearbox is about as significant as the effect of being asked, "Would you like fries with that?"

All other considerations aside, I would personally go for Touchtronic every time, not because I dislike manuals (quite the reverse) but because I have a bit of a problem with the DBS Volante's clutch. For some reason I find it very difficult to feel the biting point, which means I either stall the car and look like an idiot, or move very slowly from rest with the engine roaring and the air becoming suffused with clutch smoke. I think I have managed about one decent start in four, so you can see why I find Touchtronic a tempting option.

Aston Martin DBS 09 - Volante Rear.

Even so, this might seem a strange choice for such a high-performance car, but the DBS is not really intended for sporty drivers. Aston Martin itself describes the Vantage as its sports model, and considers the DBS to be more of a grand tourer. It's a fair point. The DBS looks very racy, and its straightline performance is appreciably better than that of the Vantage, but it is altogether softer and more suited to cruising along flowing roads than to being hustled along tighter ones.

The one respect in which the DBS has considerably more appeal to the Vantage to the enthusiastic driver concerns the sound quality. The V8 engine of the Vantage is a bit of a disappointment in this area, since it doesn't sound like much in particular until you start revving it hard, but the V12 in the DBS sounds great no matter what it's being asked to do.

Aston Martin DBS 10 - Volante Interior.

Among its other qualities, the DBS has an interior which is a triumph of the art, though I'd be inclined to avoid choosing red upholstery myself. Too brash. In theory, four of you can revel in the sumptuousness at the same time, since the DBS has back seats, but there is so little space in the rear that they seem like a waste of upholstery. Maybe it's for the best, though - it would be difficult to maintain the feeling of superiority which the DBS undoubtedly provides with an audience of as many as three people.

The first Aston Martin built outside UK

The first Aston built outside UK

The Rapide model is also their first four-seat model since the Lagonda Rapide in 1961.

So why is the Rapide being built at a factory in Graz, Austria, instead of the firm's state-of-the-art HQ at Gaydon, Warwickshire?

When the Rapide was first planned three years ago there was no prediction of a global recession and Gaydon was working at full capacity.

New models were on the way and there was simply not enough production space at the factory to build the Rapide.

So Aston chose Magna Steyr, a specialist car plant in Graz which already builds models for BMW and Mercedes, with 240 Austrian workers preparing to build up to 2,000 Rapides a year from early 2010.


Aston have spent the past 16 months replicating their British production operation at their own dedicated factory in Graz, with a small team of Aston specialists training Magna staff, some of whom have travelled to Gaydon for first-hand experience.

The irony is that Aston, like every car firm, have been hit hard by the recession and production at Gaydon has been cut back.

So the Rapide could now have been built in the UK, but the firm had already invested heavily in setting up the Austrian operation.

And having become the first British journalist to have spent a day on the production lines in Graz, I can confirm the factory is an identical replica of the UK plant. The workers even wear Aston uniforms.


They follow the same meticulous quality control levels and attention to detail, taking a month to painstakingly hand-build each car.

It takes 40 man hours to produce the leather trim for each Rapide and nearly 50 to apply a car's nine different coats of paint. And workers like Wolfgang Mayer, a lead technician on the engine assembly, are clearly proud of the fact they are building an Aston Martin.

Wolfgang spent five months at Gaydon learning the "Aston way".

"We are all very proud of building the Rapide, it's a very beautiful car and the best we've ever built at Graz.

"And we all know that Aston is the favourite car of James Bond."

Helmut Wagner is in charge of Rapide production and he says the model has added some "glamour and excitement" to the production lines and the local community.

"Getting the Rapide model has been great news for Graz and there is a lot of excitement in the factory.

"And now we are testing the car on local roads it is also causing a stir in the city."

Aston Martin Rapide a snip at $400,000

Aston Martin Rapide. Photo / AP

Aston Martin Rapide. Photo

Aston Martin importers Independent Prestige expects the New Zealand dollar to be worth upwards of 40 pence for a long time yet - the main reason why it is reviewing pricing for the British-made exotics.

"There are no final numbers but the price of the whole range of Aston Martins is going to be improved," says Independent Prestige general manager Lee Small.

The four-door Rapide, for example, is likely to come in at around $400,000 when it lands here next May/June.

"We are finalising pricing for the Rapide now and it will be a lot better than we anticipated," says Small. "Initially we expected it to be around $450,000 but with the way the British pound has gone, the Rapide will be closer to $400,000."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Aston Martin Rapide from Every Angle

The Aston Martin Rapide from Every Angle
The Aston Martin Rapide was revealed back in September. We've seen it in person, sat in it, and ogled its sharp lines (read our First Look). So what do we have here? Images of the Rapide from every angle, courtesy of Aston Martin. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aston Martin Releases More Photos of its New Rapide

Aston Martin Releases More Photos of its New Rapide

There’s little argument that the Rapide, Aston Martin’s first four-door sedan since the 1993 Virage Lagonda, is drop-dead gorgeous. The production car was unveiled earlier this year at the Frankfurt motor show, but Aston just released additional photography that has us drooling.

It’s hard to believe anything with a 470-hp, 6.0-liter V-12 could be a family sedan, but that seems to be exactly what Aston believes it to be. A few photos released by the company show a family packing luggage (and a dog) for what may be a weekend getaway. We doubt most (or any) Rapides will be stuffed to the gills in this manner, but it’s a neat way to illustrate the car’s usability.

Other photos released show the Rapide in its natural habitat, blasting through serene harbors and forests on winding roads. Take a look through the gallery to see the Rapide in all its glory.

Vintage Aston Martin Fetches Big Dollars!

On the auction block for the first time in 52 years, this 1950's DB2 model set a new auction record last month!
The chairman of Aston Martin consigned this beauty to RM Auctions (in association with Sotheby's) in London.

The bidding was strong with prospective buyers on the phone, Internet and on the auction room floor. The hammer dropped at 550K British Pounds. (Approximately $906,500 US dollars.)

Other highlights of the sale were a pair of Mercedes Benz CLK GTR's, selling for 1.1 million British Pounds, and a 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Stelvio which sold for 440,000 British Pounds.

87% of the total offerings sold achieving a total of 1.5 million British pounds.

2009 Aston Martin DBS Volante

First, you don’t call the Volante a convertible--it’s a Volante, a cloth-top car that’s reasonably quiet when shut, and because it has a soft lid, one with some useful trunk space that an erstwhile hardtop would’ve vaporized. (Also this is a nominal 2+2, and while not even children would find the backseat space viable there’s room enough in this car for overnight luggage which isn’t the case with many a super-sports GT.)

Second, though it’s equipped with a manual-automatic Touchtronic gearbox (an ordinary six-speed manual is also available), unless you’re stuck in traffic it’s far more pleasurably driven as a paddle shift manual than, say, Audi’s S-tronic, as the shifts are actually smoother when manually called for than in automatic mode. This is because they happen more quickly when under the driver’s control and because you’ve shifted, rather than allowed a computer algorithm to decide when to change gears, you can precisely anticipate when that instant will arrive when the tremendous muscle of the car’s 6.0-liter, 510-hp V-12 will pause, the bootheel of g-forces on your chest will lift for half a heartbeat, and then you’re mashed back into the driver’s seat, resuming the boost-phase mode of the DBS’s haul toward a nearly 200-mph top speed.

Third, should you happen to want to drive the DBS like a sane person, that is to say, calmly and coolly and within the constraints of suburban and even rural constabulary mores—you can do so, even as the V-12 under the hood and the metallic paddles that control the gearbox pretty much beg you to quit forcing the DBS to crawl around town on errands and instead mash the gas and let the car realize its full potential.