2011 Aston Martin Rapide

Specifications prices Modifications and Image 2011 Aston Martin Rapide
Despite the piddling amount of miles their owners tend to accumulate on them, Aston Martins have always been intended for long-distance grand touring rather than the sort of high-adrenaline pavement-pounding that other exotic sports cars get. With rare exception, an Aston puts a priority on getting its passengers rapidly to their destination in comfort and grand style. Well, for two people at least. If you wanted to bring along anyone else, their age could not exceed their hat size, or in the case of two-seat models, it would probably be best if they were simply imaginary.
Times have changed, thanks to the 2011 Aston Martin Rapide. If it looks like a DB9 stretched to accommodate an extra pair of doors and seats, that's because it's pretty much exactly that. Under the skin is Aston Martin's customary bonded-aluminum unit body and rear-mounted transaxle, while the 6.0-liter V12 is shared with the DB9. The Rapide is much larger, however. Beyond the 9.8 inches of additional wheelbase, the Rapide is 12 inches longer overall and 10 inches wider. This sedan actually takes up more real estate than the Porsche Panamera, even though it looks smaller and sleeker.
So it's based on the DB9 and looks like the DB9, but does the Aston Martin Rapide drive like one as well? Well, to put it one way, the term "four-door sports car" has rarely been so apt. There is an agility that you just won't get in other super sedans, while at the same time, there's the same sort of ride comfort that has made Aston Martins such brilliant touring cars. Then there's the V12, which offers effortless thrust and the sort of grandiose noises that beautifully blur the line between muscular and sophisticated -- like Metallica performing with the London Philharmonic. Unfortunately, such sounds might not make up for the fact that cheaper ultra-luxury sedans like the Panamera, Jaguar XJ Supercharged and Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG are notably quicker.
The Rapide has other disadvantages relative to its rivals as well. While its hatchback-style trunk and rear bucket seats provide a level of practicality that a GT coupe never could, the Rapide still doesn't deliver the sensible four-door function of a sedan. The backseat suffers from a lack of hip room, while leg- and headroom are only sufficient until you realize its competitors are limousines by comparison.
As such, the 2011 Aston Martin Rapide isn't quite a sedan in the traditional sense. Nevertheless, the addition of a respectable amount of convenience to the DB9's mix of performance, handling and stunning good looks creates the kind of package that might encourage even Aston owners to accumulate more miles.

Four full-grain leather seats provide ample room for adults of all sizes. Sitting in the backseat, my 6� 1� frame fits comfortably all around. Headroom is excellent, so too is leg and hip room. Elongated seats provide superior support for the lower back, extending upwards well beyond the norm to provide integrated headrests in a molded, yet completely accessible package.
Walnut dash trim is standard along with Iridium Silver and Graphite metallic accents. On this day, our vehicle is equipped with the optional Piano Black fascia trim, red stitching on the seats and a rear seat entertainment system with 6-disc DVD player and wireless headphones. 

Storage is surprisingly good given the stout dimensions of the trunk, but don�t expect to carry four large suitcases and four people all at the same time. With this in mind, Aston Martin provides the ultimate luxury add-on, stylized luggage designed to fit in place while looking the part. Front door pouches are a useful size as are the stitched leather center console cupholders. The standard umbrella is perfect for those times when the weather turns rainy, which in jolly old England happens frequently.

The Rapide is based on the same platform as Aston Martin's other cars, and it's unmistakably a family member.

Aston Martin keeps the Rapide lightweight through the extensive use of aluminum, magnesium alloy and composite along with the more traditional steel.  Exterior features include:
  • Standard 20-inch alloy wheels

  • Optional 20-inch silver or graphite wheels

  • Standard front parking sensors

  • Standard gray brake calipers

  • Optional black, red and silver calipers


Performance comes by way of a mid-mounted all alloy 48-valve 6.0-liter V12 engine. It produces an astounding 470 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 443 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm. Matched to a rear mid-mounted 6-speed �Touchtronic 2� gearbox with electronic shift-by-wire control, it accelerates to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds while reaching a top speed of 184 mph.
A rear-wheel drive sports car of the highest caliber, the standard rack-and-pinion set up with Servotronic speed-sensitive power-assisted steering performs at maximum level as we soon discover leaving the parking lot on a British-style fish and chips pub crawl. 

Fitted with 20-inch alloy wheels and 245/40/20 front, 295/35/20 rear Bridgestone Potenza high-performance tires, we make our way north and west out of the gated entrance at Aston Martin Headquarters in Gaydon, England.
Independent double wishbone suspension front and back features anti-dive geometry, coil springs, anti-roll bar and mono tube adaptive dampers. The rear adds anti-lift geometry to keep the vehicle firmly in place.

Driving Impressions

Climb into the 2011 Aston Martin Rapide's snug driver seat and you might think you're actually in a DB9. Not only are the controls around you practically identical, but the way the car effortlessly cruises down the highway or confidently takes a corner makes it feel like a sports car, not a luxury sedan. The automatic transmission is remarkably smooth, the steering is light and precise and the V12 sounds incredible. Best of all, it still manages to offer a compliant ride in true Aston tradition.
Because of the Rapide's long, low-slung body, there is an elevated risk of high centering on curbs and driveways. Owners simply must be mindful of their pretty Aston Martin's underbody and chin spoiler.

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