Venturing onto the roads (and frozen lakes) for the first time is Aston Martin’s new Rapide. CAR Online has caught the five-door, four-seat car cold weather testing in Scandinavia, and our spy photographers have been tracking the Rapide for the past ten days, spotting the same car refuelling last week in mainland Europe.
At 5m long, the Rapide is 30cm longer than a DB9, and slightly taller too. Compared to its coupe brother the Rapide has a kicked-up boot incorporating a rear spoiler, and of course three extra doors.
The rear doors open with the same ‘swan wing’ motion as the DB9’s, giving access to twin rear seats, while that fifth door is for the boot. The Rapide has the same hatch-style bootlid as the forthcoming Porsche Panamera.
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How many of the concept car features have been lost?
Not too many. The styling remains all but identical, but the production Rapide will lose the 2006 concept’s chess and drinks set. But Aston Martin says it wants to remain as faithful to the concept as possible, so items like the concept’s panoramic roof and the entertainment system mounted in the front seat headrests should make production.
Expect another variation of the Vantage/DB9’s interior though: the Rapide concept, DBS and V12 Vantage concept have all previewed new looks grafted over the basic archiecture.
Is the Rapide just a stretched DB9?
Essentially yes. The Rapide is based on the same highly flexible VH platform that underpins the DB9 (and V8 Vantage). That means the five-door will use Aston’s 6.0-litre V12, but tweaked to account for the Rapide’s extra weight. Although the VH platform is made from aluminium CAR predicts that the Rapide to weigh two tonnes.
Thus the Rapide may struggle against its key rivals, the Bentley Flying Spur and the most expensive versions of the Porsche Panamera. Both the Aston’s foes will have over 500bhp and 500lb ft thanks to turbocharged engines, but even in the DBS the 6.0-litre V12 only makes 510bhp and 420lb ft. Expect 480bhp for the Rapide, and though Aston Martin claims not to have even thought about it, knowing the Gaydon-based company's love of variations, a tuned and tweaked version of the Rapide (in the style of the DBS) may be a possibility.
Prices for the standard Rapide should start north of £130,000, but with the car only venturing out into the open now we won’t see it launched until late 2009