2011 Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin separates its 4-door sports car from the pack by offering heightened luxury, originally and price.

2011 Aston Martin Rapide

The 2011 Aston Martin Rapide is a unique automobile in more ways than one. A first of its kind for the brand, it features swan-doors and excellent room for up to four adults. Each occupant is provided with a sculpted, hand-stitched leather seat, expansive legroom and a driving experience certain to put a smile on the face of any secret agent.

FAST FACTS

1. Powered exclusively by a 470-hp 6.0L V12, the Rapide hits 60 mph in 5.0 seconds.

2. Top speed is an incredible 184-mph.

3. While a sedan, the Rapide feature’s Aston’s swan-doors that open out and slightly up to avoid hitting curbs.

4. Pricing for the Rapide starts at $197,850

Now if the idea of a sports car automaker producing a sedan seems a little out of the ordinary, consider the Porsche Panamera and Ferrari FF as strong indicators the future of fast cars will carry the whole family plus luggage. Let the good times roll!

RAPID POWER AND AGILITY

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.

HANDLING AND SAFETY RATE HIGH

Driving on hedge-lined back roads, we put this to the test passing trucks and slower sedans on the tight twisty two-lanes so plentiful in rural England. A few ah’s and gasps are heard from the passenger seats, but overall the ride is supple with confidence in the handling ability of the Rapide never in doubt.

Additional safety and handling features include DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist), Traction Control, PTC (Positive Torque Control) and 4-wheel multi-piston disc brakes with ABS. Few super-performance cars equipped with so much technology do such a masterful job of providing the ultimate in safety, while at the same time allowing the driver to remain in complete control. This is high speed driving at its best.

INTERIOR DESIGNED WITH CLASS

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 VERDICT

The 2011 Aston Martin Rapide is a successful attempt by the automaker to establish itself as a player in the super lux sedan market. Competition is fierce, from traditional German luxury saloons, as well as vehicles like the Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera. And while the Panamera Turbo is the all-out performance king (and value-priced by comparison), when you can also purchase a V6-powered model for $74,000 it takes away some of the vehicle’s panache.

At nearly $200,000 to start, the Aston on the other hand has a certain cache ready to catch the eye of a well-heeled buyer looking for something unique. Now you can be a superspy and bring the whole family along for the ride of their life.

RELATED READING

2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo: First Drive 2010 Porsche Panamera S: First Drive 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S Review

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