Friday, December 4, 2009

Aston Martin Rapide

The Aston Martin Rapide, which goes on sale next year for $200,000 in the United States. The Aston Martin Rapide, which goes on sale next year for around $230,000 in the United States.

Aston Martin brought the first (and only) production configuration version of its Rapide four-door sports car to Manhattan last night. The car was first shown at the the Frankfurt auto show and goes on sale next year.

The 470-horsepower car was displayed in a gray-blue metallic paint amid huge abstract paintings at the Chelsea Art Museum. It arrived in the company of Marek Reichman, Aston’s chief designer.

“I think of a racehorse,” he said discussing the car’s design. “You can sense the power of the horse even when it is still. But when it starts to move you see the play of highlights and muscles.”

Photographs do not do the Rapide justice. There are many subtle lines and planes to its body. A taut “bone” line runs from the side vent and a gentle curve rises over the front fenders. Gray is a traditional Aston color, and the bright blue added to it on this car brings out the subtlety of the body shape. Two lovely greens are among the choices of body colors; a light walnut covers the information processing center.

Aston Martin is taking orders for the $230,000-something car. The company said it planned to sell about 2,000 units in its first year, of which between 25 percent to 33 percent will come to North America. Few options are available. A 1,000-watt, 15-speaker Bang and Olafsen audio system is standard.

The rear seats are heated and cooled. Headroom is generous, but legroom more limited: the average man’s knees will necessarily be angled, not comfortably. And slipping in and out of the seats is not a smooth process despite the clever mechanics of what the company calls “swan doors.”

One option is a set of screens for the rear of the front seats; their side views constricted, the rear passengers will appreciate them. This is in contrast with Porsche’s design of the Panamera, whose rear-seating area is more generous.

“You seem to have chosen grace over space,” someone in the museum observed, and Mr. Reichman agreed. “Every millimeter was considered very carefully,” he said.

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