Aston Martin Rapide Origins
Based on the carmaker's flagship sport coupe, the DB9, the Rapide takes its name from the Lagonda Rapide, a car once produced by British car company Lagonda that is now part of Aston Martin.
Aston Martin manufactures the Rapide at the Magna Steyr production facility in Graz, Austria. The first models were built in 2010, and Aston Martin is producing 2,000 of the cars each year.
The production model of the Rapide differs somewhat from the concept version. That version featured a full-length glass roof and LED light bars on the back end. While the LED lights made it through to production, the glass roof did not.
About the Aston Martin Rapide
While the Aston Martin brand is closely associated with two-door sport models, the Rapide is not the first four-door saloon. The Rapide was actually intended as the successor to Aston Martin's previous four-door saloon, the Aston Martin Lagonda, which was discontinued in 1989.
Sports car purists have long held the opinion that no vehicle with more than two seats could be considered a sport model. However, one look at the Rapide is certain to put an end to that notion. Based on the Aston Martin DB9, the Rapide is like a sport coupe that's been expanded into a sleek luxury sedan. The Rapide maintains many similarities to the DB9, including its opulent interior, effortless ability to accelerate, and nimbleness going around corners. From reviews, it's apparent that driving the Rapide is more akin to driving a sports car with a couple of additional doors than it is to taking the wheel of a stately luxury sedan.
The Rapide is an excellent sports car, but it is not the most practical luxury sedan on the market: it gets abysmal fuel economy and offers very little room for passengers sitting in the rear. However, the Rapide is stunning to behold and performs as ably as many high-end, two-door sports cars, and the Rapide is regarded as one of the most successful coupe-to-sedan transformations in recent history.
Modern Aston Martin Rapides
Mechanically, the 2012 Rapide is closely based on the Aston Martin DB9, and powered by the same six-liter V-12 engine. The Rapide's engine is capable of producing 470 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options for the Rapide are limited to a six-speed automatic that features paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.
Like the 2011 and 2010 models, the 2012 Rapide is available in two trim levels. These are the base version and the more expensive Luxe version. The base version of the Rapide is equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic climate control. It also features tailored leather upholstery and heated front and back seats. The base model also includes a navigation system, Bluetooth capabilities, and a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system equipped with satellite radio and an iPod/USB interface.
If money is no object you will probably want to spring for the Luxe version, which features custom paint and leather colors, rear-seat DVD entertainment, distinctive alloy wheels, and front and rear ventilated seats. The Luxe version also includes a six-piece set of custom-made luggage that matches the leather interior. Many if not all of these features can also be added a la carte to the base model.
Like most Aston Martins, the Rapide's interior is as gorgeous as a British officer's club, done up in elegant leather and real wooden trim. The front seats are comfortable, stylish, and expansive, while the rear quarters are rather tight by luxury sedan standards.
But while the Rapide may be a looker outside and in, this car can also perform, capable of going from 0 to 60 in just five seconds. It offers the handling of a sports car with the comforts of a luxury sedan and the growling power of a massive V-12 engine. Certainly there are more affordable and practical luxury sport saloons available, but ask yourself— would James Bond be caught in any of them?