2011 Aston Martin Rapide quick drive: Brit luxury sports car for four

2011 Aston Martin Rapide

2011 Aston Martin Rapide

The ignition key for the 201 Aston Martin Rapide looks like a crystal, like Superman might to open the Fortress of Solitude.

But solitude? Not necessarily. The Aston Martin Rapide was rightly famous even before delivery for being the first four-door four-seat Aston Martin, much anticipated and the subject of much concern. Our worries about its look and feel were lessened when we first saw the car in person in Manhattan, in static display at the Chelsea Art Museum, and were able to walk around, touch it and be cosseted in its leather chairs.


Yet there’s no real test of any automobile, especially one of the league of Aston Martin, as in driving. Garages can wait.

So when we were offered the wheel, we said yes.

2011 Aston Martin Rapide left front wheel

2011 Aston Martin Rapide

We were not to be disappointed.

Our Aston Martin Rapide fires effortlessly and with a push of a button, drive is selected.  There are four large round buttons across the top of the center stack, two–marked “P” and “R” to the left of the Fortress of Solitude key–and two to the right, marked “N” and “D”. Press D and one expects a butler to arrive with Drive on a silver platter. Thank you, Jeeves. I’ll take over the shifting from here with the wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Though don’t go too far. I may need a “P” or perhaps an “R”.

“It’s very easy to get comfortable in the car”, our notes say. Indeed, the leather is soft and the seats supportive and find themselves right where we want them to be without much thinking about it. But now the glorious V-12 is running…

The Aston Martin Rapide is certainly of the Aston Martin tradition. It is based on the same Vertical/Horizontal architecture–bonded rather than welded, as per aerospace practices–as the Aston Martin DB9, longer by 12.1 inches with 9.8 inches added to the wheelbase. One recoils  at using “New Jersey stretch limo” in the same sentence as Aston Martin, even if in vigorous denial, but that extra longitude, not to mention a roofline higher by 3.5 inches and 1.9-inches of added side-to-side makes for more passengers.

The engine is familiar-to-the-Aston Martin-devotee 6.0-liter V-12, rated at 470 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. As per all current–and possibly all–Aston Martins, the engine is mounted front mid-ship, per other Aston Martins. Transmission is a six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic. With curb weight only 420 lbs more than the Aston Martin DB9, the Rapide can gallop 0-to-60 mph in a mere 5.1 seconds.

The Rapide has a door for each of its passengers, which prods Aston Martin to call the Rapide a “four-door sports car”–with more justification than a certain Japanese carmaker–but the overall profile doesn’t reveal its four place capacity, only the cutline at the rear edge of the front door and the possibility of seeing four heads in the car (still attached to their bodies, of course) as the car rolls by.

Still, the Rapide is instantly recognizable as an Aston Martin, particularly from the iconic “Keyhole” grille.