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Aston Martin Rapide Looks Set for Production

Aston Martin May Beat Porsche Panamera to Market
At the 2006 North American International Auto Show, Aston Martin unveiled a concept called Rapide. Within a month or so of the introduction, suppliers confirmed to Automotive News reporters production is being planned for summer 2007. Aston could bring out its new sports car two model years ahead of the Porsche Panamera, due in 2009CY for 2010MY. Reports are that Aston is planning to build 3,000 to 3,500 units annually, compared with the Porsche’s 20,000-unit target. Comparing the Porsche to the Aston Martin is a touch misleading, however, as the Aston is likely to command a transaction price comfortably above the Porsche. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents were on hand when the Rapide was unveiled complete with a designer pooch. We’ll take the car, you can have the dog.


The addition of the Aston Martin Rapide will give luxury-minded buyers several four-seat, grand touring entries to choose from by the end of the decade, whether two doors like the BMW 6-Series and Bentley Continental GT or four doors like the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Porsche Panamera, and Aston Martin Rapide. Though not necessarily direct competitors, entries like these similar philosophies, with seductively gorgeous exteriors, pampering and sumptuous interiors, more power than you ever need, and a driving experience tuned for the grand touring side of life as much as the sporting side. These aren’t racing cars barely dressed for the street like a Dodge Viper or Porsche Carrera GT, though they have enough power to win most stoplight challenges.

Aston Martin Luxury and Design
Aston Martin set out to create “the most beautiful four-door car in the world,” according to Design Director Marek Reichman, giving it a graceful and flowing design with a family look to the silhouette. Aston Martin describes the Rapide as a long-distance runner compared with the V8 Vantage’s “sprinter-like forward thrust.” First sketches of the Rapide were created in summer 2005, with the prototype ready for its January 2006 unveiling. From first glance, the Rapide can only be an Aston Martin. In production, it will essentially be built-to-order, as is the rest of the range, wearing the traditional pewter-and-enamel winged badge. The Rapide incorporates metal side strakes and doors that open up at a 12-degree angle away from the curb for easier access.


Aston Martin compares the Rapide concept’s interior to exquisite hand-tooled luggage. While the Rapide continues Aston’s use of wood, aluminum, leather, and carbon fibre, this is the first Aston to use a transparent polycarbonate for the roof. The opaque roof allows more light in and contributes to an overall feeling of space and openness, though Aston is far from the first to explore full-length panoramic roof treatments.

To keep everyone comfortable, the Aston featured a dual climate control system; HVAC, DVD, and audio controls for both front and rear passengers; two DVD screens with the rear-seat entertainment setup; and Bluetooth technology. Using Bluetooth technology, rear-seat passengers can even add their own input to the navigation system. In the rear cargo area, a chilled compartment was sized just right for a magnum of champagne and four flutes.

The Rapide, intended for journeying, uses a hatchback for access to the cargo area and allows both rear seats to be folded when the extra space is needed. Aston says it can carry three people plus three sets of golf clubs (or four people and four sets of skis). Do you put the worst golfer of the foursome in his own car, or take him with you hoping the luxurious ride improves his golf game?

480HP Provides the Rapid(e) Element
The Rapide concept, and any production version, uses Aston’s VH (Vertical/Horizontal) aluminum-intensive platform, with a front longitudinally mounted engine and rear-drive chassis. An aluminum monocoque would be used, though body panels will be a mix of aluminum and composite materials. Porsche’s Panamera will have a similar layout, but look to steel for its unibody. The concept used the DB9’s 6.0L DOHC V12 engine, upgraded to deliver 480HP, and ceramic brakes and calipers for stopping power.

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