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> Test-drove the Aston Martin Rapide
post Apr 29 2010, 12:13 PM
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Was at local Lambo dealership today and saw an AM zoomed by. Without a doubt it was an AM but way too long to be a DB-9. Thought I saw some rear doors so gave the AM dealer down the block a call. Sure enough, a final proto-type/pre-production Rapider was here. Dealer was gracious enough to offer a test drive.

First off, it is quite a beautiful looking car in real. An AM through & through since all of them share the same profile which is a plus and a minus. Plus on the sensual lines but minus being a little long-tooth now and, aside from the extra doors, it's getting a bit difficult to tell the models apart based on a quick glance.

Exterior --- looks like a stretched DB-9 with some chrome highlights on the C-pillar. Graceful, classy and sophisticated; but the profile is just so repetitive it's getting a bit boring. Typical white/neutral density taillight cluster. Not a trunk but a hatchback with a hardcover concealing the cargo area. Bridgestone Potenza "AMR" (Aston Martin Racing) Z-rated tires. It has no gas cap; it's integrated into the fuel door forming a seal. Typical "swan" door for front & back. The back door has 2 gas struts on it.

Interior --- again, nothing new or innovative, same old classy finish. Abundance of fine-quality leather but same inferior-quality switches and dials. Same "push the glass key into the centre console" to start the car; same 2 dials instrument panel; same air vents borrowed from the 2nd-gen Range Rover & same signal stalk from last-gen Jaguar. If you own or owned a DB-9/DBS/AMV8, you can operate the controls of the Rapide blindfolded. But...THE ROOF IS SO LOW & THE WINDSHIELD SO RAKED, you feel CLAUSTROPHOBIC! Reminds me of the old Lotus Esprit! The length of the sun visor is the same width of a ski and I am not joking! Between the armrest on the door, the tall and thick centre tunnel and the low roof, anyone being taller than 5'10" with medium-build frame will feel cramp. Centre tunnel extends the entire wheelbase of the car with seat, air & audio/video controls available at the rear. It's a true 2+2. But the rear is so cramp any adult would feel uncomfortable and, again, claustrophobic due to the small glass surfaces. At best, it's 20% better than the rear of a Porsche 911 but this car have 2 extra doors. The Panamera's rear passenger compartment excel by a mile. Rearward vision through the hatchback window is as useful as the Gallardo rear windshield --- at best 10% better than the G! While getting in & out of the front seats is a test of one's dexterity, the rear is borderline a joke --- a Mazda RX-8 is easier, roomier and more comfortable. True that you are inundated with top-class materials and excellent coachwork --- even for a pre-production car --- they cannot make up for the discount in comfort. The B&O stereo, while visually nice with its self-deploying (or elevating) tweeters, comes standard but I don't find it sounding spectacular at all. Yes, my bar in hi-fi is set very high but the same setup sounds much better in an Audi S8. Cargo area is ok but shallow. A board folds up and can be held in place magnetically to form a boxed area. The same piece folds flat as do the back rest of the rear seats thus creating one relatively big and flat cargo space.

Drive: it's a big car but it feels smaller than it really is. Ample power with its 6.0 litre V12 and the exhaust note sounds very nice. But it is what you expected from a car of this calibre and price so, again, typical Aston Martin, no more, no less. The brakes re very effective they are not carbon ceramics (not an option either). They are steel but they aren't "discs"; they are "rings": i.e. there's an aluminum hub in the centre as part of the driving axel. The brake "disc" are more like giant washers and fit through the hub rather than covering it. Suspension and steering is fine and actually quite good for the size of the car, but again, not out of the ordinary.

Verdict: to say AM succeeded in creating a sedan while retaining its great looks is technically correct. But the compromises it took is enough to turn people away. Rear passenger space and comfort is only marginally better than a 911. Drives well, built well and satisfactory performance but I won't expect anything less from an AM. And like all other AM's, while everything is good performance-wise, it doesn't excel in any particular area. The local price is CAN$220K. CAN$ is more or less on par with US$ these days. If you are a diehard AM fan, by all means, go for it. It looks great, drives well and you will arrive is style but definitely not in great comfort. Only the front passenger would feel better. If you can get over its looks, get the Panamera. And since this is NOT a car for full time 2+2 transport, pay a slight bit more and you can have a brand new LP560-4 coupe (starts as CAN$230K).

Since the AM dealer also sells Porsche, I told the AM sales manager (who is a friend) the following: if you can put the interior of the Panamera into the Rapide, I'll put down a deposit right now. Bottom-line: it's all in the looks, that's all and even that's getting a bit dated. Otherwise, cramp & claustrophobic; good performance but nothing extraordinary. Costs a pretty penny but with landsliding depreciation. Good try AM but not quite; there are better & wiser alternatives.

Some pics from a crappy cel camera. Forgot to take interior shots. eusa_wall.gif
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Attached File  Aston_Martin_Rapide__1_.jpg ( 421.32K ) Number of downloads: 84
Attached File  Aston_Martin_Rapide__2_.jpg ( 419.78K ) Number of downloads: 83
Attached File  Aston_Martin_Rapide__3_.jpg ( 464.85K ) Number of downloads: 85
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post Apr 29 2010, 03:40 PM
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Excellent write up, thanks icon_thumleft.gif


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post Apr 29 2010, 05:11 PM
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Have yet to check out the rapide in person. Thanks for the write up. icon_thumleft.gif


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post Apr 30 2010, 06:36 AM
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I have an invite to drive one next week. I wont be around, but sounds like missing it is not a big deal.


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post May 2 2010, 01:15 AM
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QUOTE (slowpoke @ Apr 30 2010, 06:25 PM) *
Excellent write up, thanks icon_thumleft.gif

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post May 2 2010, 01:20 AM
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i was at the AM dealer yesterday and i seriously had a hard time distinguishing the Vantage, DB9 and DBS apart. they all look the same and their interiors all look the same... NOT GOOD.
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post May 2 2010, 07:53 AM
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Thank you for the review. I want to replace my CL-65 with something newer and I was considering Rapide but the small amount of space in the back will probably make me pass.


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post May 2 2010, 10:10 AM
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thanks for the write up!


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