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2010 Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin Rapide. Free to use. Public domain.
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by Car and Driver

Aside from its stunning sheetmetal, you might wonder what all the fuss is about the Aston Martin Rapide. After all, the car is showing up mighty late to the four-door “coupe” party that has been raging for a few years now. (The Mercedes-Benz CLS-class, which arguably arrived first to the bash, is about to enter its second generation.) But Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez, in a fit of understandable partisanship, insists his car is something unique; he claims the Rapide is “the only four-door sports car in the world.”

Think of the stratospherically priced Rapide—the base cost is $201,300—as a stretched, four-door DB9, and Bez seems only mildly insane. His point is that the Rapide is a sports car first and a sedan second, unlike other cars in the segment, which he says have all had their styling and dynamics compromised in the name of rear-seat accommodations or comfort. And any arguments that can’t be won by playing the “sports car” card are dismissed by playing up the Rapide’s exclusivity, as annual production will number 2000 or so units worldwide. But is the Rapide actually that special?

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Sharing Means, Well, Not Much to Complain About

The engine and transmission in the Rapide are straight from the DB9. If you haven’t already memorized those specs, we’ll repeat them for you. The powerplant is a 5.9-liter V-12 making 470 hp, and it mates via a carbon-fiber driveshaft to a transaxle version of the ZF 6HP six-speed automatic. Like the DB9 and the rest of the Aston Martin lineup, the Rapide is based on the extruded-aluminum VH architecture. Lessons learned throughout the development of other Astons have made the Rapide’s chassis the stiffest yet. The DB9’s hard-mounted steel rear subframe has been replaced by a rubber-isolated welded aluminum structure. The suspension is largely the same, with beefed-up wheel hubs and lower control arms in front. Two-stage adaptive Bilstein shocks and dual-cast brake rotors consisting of lightweight aluminum hubs with conventional iron discs are standard.

When you stand next to the Rapide (and have been stuffed with Iberico ham, as we were), the rational thoughts give way to raw emotion. You start to feel that it is special, that maybe Bez isn’t insane at all. It’s a beautiful car from almost every angle, and the subtle creases on the hood and along the sides invite you to run your hands along the bodywork. It’s a two-box design, with the cabin blending seamlessly into the rear hatchback. The front seats are almost at the middle of the Rapide’s length, which totals 197.6 inches, 12.2 longer than the DB9. The frameless windows are made from double-laminated glass, and the front and rear side windows meet up at the outside of the B-pillar for a seamless appearance. All four doors open in what Aston Martin calls a “swan wing” motion, rotating slightly up as they move outward.

From the Back to the Front

Our first exposure to a rolling Rapide was during a ride in one of the two back seats, which are snug but comfortable. A foldable cargo divider that seals off the luggage space from the rest of the cabin serves as a little shelf behind the rear seats, perfect for small bags. With the divider and rear seats folded, trunk space jumps from 11 cubic feet to 31. Your author, 5 feet 10 inches tall on a good day, had no trouble sitting upright and found plenty of legroom, although a high floor leaves your knees higher than your hips. Speaking of hips, you’ll want to lay off the extra helping of ham if you want any wiggle room. In that way, sitting in the back seat of the Rapide is much like sitting in a roller coaster, only with more storage space. There are deep map pockets in the doors, an iPhone-sized pocket on the front seatback, and a large center bin that holds the remote and headphones for the optional rear-seat entertainment system. There are even two cup holders, although the shallow depth and the 12-ounce can diameter were clearly designed without the Mecha-Super-Big-Gulp tastes of Americans in mind.

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