THAT'S A RAP (some text hidden)
By Andy Enright
Introductionword count: 216
Aston Martin may conjure up a number of images but it's rarely a marque associated with four-door cars. Coupes and open-topped roadsters maybe, but practicality? Owners, it was assumed, didn't need it. After all, the golden era of Aston Martin coincided with an age when children should be seen, not heard and folded into contorted shapes if they wanted to ride in Daddy's DB. That changed a little in 2010 with the launch of the Rapide model we look at here, a car that has always been cut from slightly different cloth and one that has often floundered a little in communicating exactly what it is. At first it was billed as a proper four-seat limousine to face down big German rivals able to seat four generously-tailored Kapitans of industry at 155mph on an autobahn, but it soon became clear that this was a bit of a reach for the more tightly-packaged Aston. The later Rapide S reverted to a more clearly sporting bias and seems more comfortable in that role. Sales may have been slow but there's something delightfully left-field about the Rapide that's ineffably cool, in a way that some of Aston Martin's more overt vehicles manage to miss out on. A used model is a good deal more affordable than you might imagine.
Modelsword count: 7
4dr coupe (5.9 petrol [Rapide, Rapide S])
Historyword count: 222
It's fair to say that Aston Martin was a little late to the supersaloon party. By the time the Rapide made it into dealers, the market was already stuffed with redoubtable rivals. The Porsche Panamera, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, the Maserati Quattroporte, the Mercedes CLS63 AMG and now models like the Ferrari FF all ask some pretty serious questions of the Rapide. Park these cars in a row, ask most to choose one and I'd lay money on the fact that the Aston's keys would be the most popular pick. It's based on the aluminium VH chassis that underpins the redoubtable DB9 but the chassis has been stretched such that it's over a foot longer, allowing space for a pair of seats in the back. Launched at the start of 2010, Rapide sales were encouragingly brisk at first but tailed off somewhat as newer rivals were launched. It soon became clear that the Rapide couldn't really compete in terms of space and practicality with some of the larger cars and the range was rebranded in 2013 when the Rapide S was launched. This was a car with a far more sporting bias. Power went up from 477 to 558PS, the damping was improved significantly, the car was treated to a facelift and the infotainment system got a root and branch rethink.
What You Getword count: 189
The elephant in the room where the Rapide is concerned is that it just doesn't offer a huge amount of space. A six footer sitting behind another will have trouble slotting in without sitting splay-kneed. Likewise, the 317-litre boot offers just 80-litres of luggage room per occupant. Rear seat room is perfectly adequate for adults on shorter journeys and the kids will be fine back there, which is capability enough for the majority of prospective buyers. Should you need more space, the rear seats can fold down. The Rapide was originally built at a shiny production facility in Graz, Austria managed by Magna Steyr and Aston Martin. Subsequently, it was taken back in-house at the company's UK Gaydon base. Either way, thanks to a blend of modern production line and hand finishing stations, the results are impressive. The cabin is beautifully finished, from the metallic contra-rotating dial pack to the soft mood lighting, the attention to detail on the leatherwork and the elegantly integrated marquetry. The exterior styling is also extremely cohesive, with the additional pair of doors very smoothly integrated into the now familiar Aston Martin coupe profile.
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Category: Luxury Saloons and Estates
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