This is Aston Martin being sensible. Well, relatively sensible. The new 2010 Rapide has four doors and four seats. But don’t fear, it still has a 5.9-litre V12 with 470bhp and will carry four occupants to 188mph.
It still looks like an Aston, too. We really can’t think of a better looking four-door on the planet. But that DB9-esque profile does rather undo its practicality… you wouldn’t want to ride in the back seats for more than an hour or so if you’re an adult male (or an Amazonian adult female), and the boot is only just about acceptable. Aston claim this is a sports car first, that it has four doors is just an added bonus. It costs from £139,950.
The new Aston Martin Rapide looks like a stretched DB9!
Fair point. It’s a huge car, the Rapide – over 5 metres long and nearly 2 metres wide. It weighs 1950kg, so it’s no lightweight, either. But Aston’s assertion that this is a super-sized sportscar stacks up: it’s agile, grippy and thumps along at a wicked pace thanks to that lovely V12.
The bonded aluminium chassis is a stretched version of Aston’s ubiquitous VH platform – utilised elsewhere with DB9, DBS and V8 Vantage. That means the Rapide is stiff and its suspension can be tuned accurately. Adjustable dampers give a good compromise between comfort and outright body control.
In Normal the ride is still firm but supple. It’s never S-class smooth but then the low-slung driving position, the quick and feelsome steering and the V12 noise bubbling through the cabin mean you don’t crave that isolation.
Does the new Aston Martin Rapide handle the twisties?
In Sport mode the dampers stiffen up appreciably and when you’re on the right sort of road you really appreciate the extra control in the Rapide. Body roll is well contained and it flicks between direction changes like a smaller, lighter car.
Traction is great too, and the stability and traction control systems seem well tuned to be effective yet unobtrusive. There’s a ‘DSC Track’ mode if you want to feel the rear tyres slip a little, or you can turn it off altogether should you feel inclined to chuck £140k’s worth of Aston sideways.
You can see us doing just that in the new March 2010 issue of CAR Magazine, out on Wednesday 17 February. We take the Rapide on a 1489-mile road trip with 10 pages of amazing photos like the lead photo above, taken by Mark Fagelson.
>> Click ‘Next’ to read more of CAR Online’s first drive review of the new Aston Martin Rapide (2010)
The Rapide certainly lives up to its sports car billing. However, it’s how the Rapide makes you feel when you’re just bumbling around town that makes it really special.
The interior is largely shared with the DB9 and it’s simply beautiful. The rear seats are super-snug but look like something out of a concept car, and when you see the four-door amongst ordinary traffic it looks stunning – long, low and effortlessly stylish.
Does the slusher ‘box suit the Rapide?
The six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and does indeed suit the Rapide, even if in ‘Touchtronic’ mode (using the paddles mounted on the steering column) it feels a little slow compared to the latest twin-clutch ’boxes.
You could easily argue that the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide is fatally flawed in its packaging. And if you were waiting for an Aston to use as an everyday family wagon you’d be right. But the chances are that most people able to spend £139,950 on a Rapide will have something much more practical tucked up in their multiple car garage, too.
Viewed as a special third or fourth car that can fit kids or friends in the back for weekends away it’s a pretty appealing package. It’s a better drive than the DB9, looks so much better than the cheaper Porsche Panamera it’s almost embarrassing and makes a Bentley Flying Spur seem terribly austere. It’s a very special car indeed.
>> Read the full 10-page test of the new Aston Martin Rapide in the new March 2010 issue of CAR Magazine, out on Wednesday 17 February