Motoring Review - Aston Martin Rapide

The Aston Martin Rapide is a long way from ordinary, but will this iconic British brand's take on the four-door sports car prove a hit or a miss with the demanding clientele who have the cash to buy it? Steve Walker reports...

The trend for differentiation has spread through the upper echelons of the global car market like wildfire over recent years. We’ve seen BMW, Audi and Mercedes branch out into 4x4s, MPVs and various small car markets, Porsche brought us a 4x4 then the Panamera four-door, Bentley has enjoyed success with sportscars and now Aston Martin has developed the Rapide, its first production four-door.

Being an Aston Martin, the Rapide was going to have to be fast, handle like no other four-door car and, perhaps most importantly, sound to its drivers as if they’re trapped in a mahogany wardrobe with a thunderstorm. Supplying the famous Aston soundtrack is the iconic Aston V12, a six-litre unit that is mounted at the front but edged as far rearward as it would go in the interests of weight distribution – a near perfect 51:49 if you’re interested.

The figures confirm that this is a four-door of the sporting variety. There’s 600Nm of torque at 5,000rpm and 470bhp at 6,000 which should be plenty. Give the throttle a prolonged stomping and the car will see 188mph before too long. With some nimble use of the magnesium alloy paddle shifters that control the six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic gearbox, 60mph can come up after just 5.1 seconds.

The Rapide is rear-wheel-drive in the best traditions of the brand and the basic suspension is also that of a sportscar with double wishbones all round. Providing some concession to the car’s long range cruising abilities is the Adaptive Damping System which adjusts the suspension settings according to the way the car is being driven. Ease off and it relaxes to improve comfort gets taut and more responsive. The dual cast brake discs – measuring 390mm at the front and 360mm at the rear – are fashioned from aluminium and cast iron, combining the former’s light weight with durability and heat resistant qualities of the latter.

The Rapide sticks very much to the established and much-loved Aston Martin design themes as seen on the Vanquish, DB9 and DBS. The key challenge (that of adapting the Aston design language to the properties necessary for a four-door, four-seater) has been gracefully overcome.

The detailing too catches the eye, from the light tube sidelights that line the edge of the headlight clusters to the dramatic vent behind the front wheel arch.

Most Read

All four doors open upwards as well as outwards to protect the nine coats of paint applied to the Rapide’s metalwork from high kerbs or verges. They stop at 70-degree angles to the car’s flank, providing a wide opening for dignified exits. The boot is accessed through the hatch backed rear and measures 301-litres with the back seats in use. At the touch of a button, the seatbacks fold down electronically to give a 750-litre luggage bay.

Inside, a high centre console runs through the cabin, splitting it into four separate cockpits. There’s a figure-hugging sports seat for each occupant and although space will be tight in the rear for the very tall, most adults will fit comfortably. The detailing is exquisite with hand-stitched leather, walnut and Iridium Silver detailing. At high speeds, the windows automatically move further up into their frames to improve refinement and each rear-seat passenger has an individual air-conditioning system to enhance comfort further.

You’d expect quite a bit of standard equipment for �150,000 and the Rapid supplies it. Electric heated seats, a hard disc satellite navigation system and a stunning Bang & Olufsen BeoSound stereo are amongst the highlights. There’s even an Aston Martin umbrella mounted in the boot. If you’re spending all this money though, why not go the whole hog? On the options list is a rear seat entertainment system with a 6-disc DVD player and screens in the front seat backs. There are also a number of different wood finishes for the interior trim and some 20inch wheels to replace standard 19inch ones.

Looking after the safety side of things, there are seatbelt pretensioners and eight airbags including individual head protection airbags for those in the rear seats. There’s also the usual array of electronic aids you’d expect in a car of this complexity and price.

Running costs almost become an irrelevance at this aristocratic end of the car market. The V12 will have a thirst with few equals if asked to continually move 1,950kg of Rapide around at mach ten. The 90.5 litre tank provides a theoretical 300-mile range.

Aston Martin didn’t try to be too clever when creating its first four-door car. The Rapide turns out to be basically how you imagine a four-door Aston to be/ Thunderous V12, hand-crafted cabin, elegant but sporting looks. It’s a sports car with space for the family rather than an attempt to muscle in on the luxury saloon market and as such, it looks set for success.

If a growing family or the advancing years are starting to make your supercar look like more and more of an extravagance, the Aston Martin Rapide is the sensible alternative. It isn’t much more sensible mind, and that’s its charm.

Facts at a Glance                                                                           Car: Aston Martin Rapide                                                               Prices: �150,000 (est) – on the road                                                Insurance Groups: 20                                                                      CO2 Emissions: 400g/km (est)                                                    Performance: 0=60 5.1s/top speed 188mph                                       Fuel Consumption: (combined) 15mpg (est)                                      Standard Safety Features: eight airbags, ABS with EDB, HBA, DSC. Traction Control                                                                               Will it fit in your garage? 5019mm long, 2140mm wide, 1360mm high

Available from: Aston Martin Stratstone, Sir Frank Whittle Road. Derby DE21 4LT Tel: 01332 258796

Comments powered by Disqus