After Prodrive got in charge over the Aston Martin company they have announced big plans for the future. One of them is to put into production the Rapide Concept that was unveiled in 2006 at the North American International Auto Show. The Rapide will go into production in 2009 and will compete with the Porsche Panamera, Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and Maserati Quattroporte.
David Richards, founder of Prodrive confirmed the production of the Rapide: "Although Aston is 84 years old, this is a young business which needs to mature. It’s important that we develop procedures and standards of our own. As far as new models go, the DBS, our Vanquish replacement, isn’t far away and we’ve also approved the investment that will bring the Rapide four-door saloon to market late in 2009."
The Aston Martin Rapide name is a reference to the Lagonda Rapide, a 4-door GT car produced from 1961 through 1964 by Lagonda, now part of Aston Martin.
Aston Martin wants the Rapide to reach the market before the Panamera. This means that the company has less than two years to engineer and develop the new car, which will line up alongside the V8 Vantage, DB9 and a successor to today’s Vanquish.
The Rapide will be based on Aston Martin’s unique VH (Vertical/Horizontal) architecture (the same that will be used for the 2008 DBS), it combines the company’s commitment to power, beauty and soul with space and practicality for every eventuality. It stands for stylistic excellence, market innovation and flexible manufacturing.
The 2009 production car will have the same design as the 2006 Concepts, but it will use less costly materials for the body and the interior.
The Rapide will be derived from the DB9 platform and powered by the same engine from the DB9. The 5.9-liter V12 will deliver between 450 to 480 hp at 4000 rpm. Even if the Rapide will have the same power as the DB9, it will be slower than it. We have to consider that the Rapide is a sedan, so its top speed will be lower than the one for the coupe. We expect the Rapide to have a top speed of 180 mph and make the 0 to 60 mph in around 5 seconds. This will make it one of the fastest sedans in the world.
It will come with a six-speed manual transmission as a standard, and also a paddle-shifted automatic will be offered as an option.
The 2009 Rapide will be priced between $160.000 (DB9) and $175.000 (DB9 Volante). It will add another 1,000 to 2,000 cars to Aston Martin’s annual total of 7,000 units. The Aston Martin factory at Gaydon in Oxfordshire will have to be expanded with a new production line and developments to the body and paint shops.
1961-1964 Aston Martin Lagonda Rapide
The Lagonda Rapide was a 4-door GT car produced from 1961 through 1964. Based on the Aston Martin DB4, it was David Brown’s attempt to revive the Lagonda marque which he had purchased in 1953. The car featured tailfins and a horse collar grille like Ford’s failed Edsel.
The Rapide used a 4.0 L straight-6 engine, which would later be used in the Aston Martin DB5. Other new features included a de Dion tube rear suspension which would find its way into the Aston Martin DBS.
The car was built to order only and costly at £4,950. However, 55 vehicles were produced, of which 48 are known today.
2006 Aston Martin Rapide Concept
The Aston Martin Rapide concept is a four-door, high performance coupé of remarkable grace and poise. Based on Aston Martin’s unique VH (Vertical/Horizontal) architecture, the Rapide combines the company’s commitment to power, beauty and soul with space and practicality for every eventuality.
It stands for stylistic excellence, market innovation and flexible manufacturing. The Rapide is the epitome of Aston Martin’s low-volume, high-technology approach, the synergy of modern methods and materials with traditional skills to create a new form of craftsmanship for the 21st century.
Underpinning the Rapide concept is Aston Martin’s VH architecture, developed to offer exceptional manufacturing flexibility. This high-strength, low-mass architecture forms the backbone of the current generation of Aston Martins, spearheaded by the DB9 Coupé and flanked by the DB9 Volante and the Vantage.
The extruded aluminium construction of the VH architecture can be modified in both length and width, providing a myriad of packaging options, and the chemically-bonded structure (using glues derived from aircraft manufacture) is mated with bodywork that mixes aluminium and composite materials. The architecture’s flexibility is further demonstrated by its use in the DBR9 racing car, where it is combined with carbon-fibre composite body panels to produce a modern race car of rare beauty.
The Rapide features the metal side strakes, another signature feature, while the doors feature Aston Martin’s unique ’swan wing’ design, opening upwards at a 12-degree angle away from the kerb to provide greater access. The rear doors cut unexpectedly deep into the flank below the C-pillar, increasing the width of the opening to improve access. At 5m long, the Rapide is 30cm longer than a DB9, and only 140kg heavier. “Aston Martin should always be about the proportions,” Reichman says. “Although the Rapide is slightly taller than the DB9, the proportion of the section is the same, allowing the flowing lines to encase a spacious passenger compartment.”
An Aston Martin is about elegance, power and innovation, a bespoke form constructed to high standards that provide the model definition of 21st century design and engineering execution.
Porsche Panamera is the latest model coming from Porsche. But although it will debut in 2009, its history does not start in here. Porsche started the project 16 years ago, but because of financial problems they needed to abandon it. When Wendelin Wiedeking came in charge, he came with new ideas that not only saved Porsche but also made possible the launch of new models.
Although not yet officially announced, it is rumored that Porsche will use the new Panamera platform to build another new model, a GT Coupe replacing the ‘90s 944/928 models. The two front engined cars will share at least 60 per cent of all parts including the platform, the engines (as the most costly autonomous part), transmissions (the second most costly) and suspension corner modules (the third most costly individual single part of a vehicle), amid others.
A specific fine-tuning of the common components, a different electronic mapping and different suspension spring and damping values will ensure that the Panamera and the GT Coupe will be two distinct vehicles with characters appropriated for their destinations. At a broader level, parts will also be shared with the equally front engined Cayenne range.
Therefore all three models - Cayenne, Panamera and the GT Coupe – are expected to be offered with a range of normally aspirated and turbocharged V8 (already in use on the Cayenne) and V10 engines (derived from the extreme Carrera GT) ranging between 4 and 6 liters of displacement and producing power values amid 300 and 650 bhp. It is unlikely that the Panamera and the GT Coupe will use Cayenne’s four-wheel drive system. A traditional rear-wheel drive with optimized weight distribution due to transaxle-setup of the gearboxes is expected to provide the desired level of performance and handling.
Wearing the D1 Project Code-name the new four-door coupe will feature a tall roof for easy entry and exit, and enough luggage room in the rear for a vacation. The Panamera is anticipated to carry a price tag ranging between $125,000 and $175,000
The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class will kick off model year 2007 with three newly developed engines, even better safety and a more extensive range of standard equipment. The four-door Coupe is powered by the world’s first petrol engine featuring piezoelectric direct injection and spray-guided combustion. The 215 kW/ 292 hp six-cylinder engine of the CLS 350 CGI consumes about ten percent less fuel than a comparable V6 petrol engine with port injection.
The CLS 500 will be equipped with the new V8 engine from the S-Class, whose output of 285 kW/388 hp is about 26 percent higher than that of the previous eight-cylinder engine. Another new development is the CLS 63 AMG, whose V8 naturally aspirated engine generates 378 kW/ 514 hp. Mercedes-Benz is enhancing the vehicle’s standard range of safety features by adding the PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection system and flashing brake lights.
The world’s first direct petrol injection system with spray-guided combustion points the way ahead for passenger car petrol engines, and will be available in the new CLS 350 CGI from the third quarter of 2006. The engine’s innovative injection procedure makes for much better fuel and thermodynamic efficiency than the wall-guided combustion process previously employed with direct injection. With a fuel consumption of 9.1–9.3 litres per 100 kilometres(62.13 miles) in the European driving cycle, the six-cylinder Coupé has a range of approximately 70 kilometres(43.49 miles) on one tankful (80 litres).
The main advantage of the CGI engine (CGI = Stratified-Charged Gasoline Injection) lies in the stratified operating mode from which it takes its name. In this mode the engine is run with high excess air and thus excellent fuel efficiency. Now, thanks to multiple injection, it is for the first time possible to extend this lean-burn operating mode to higher rpm and load ranges too. During each power stroke, a series of injections takes place, spaced just fractions of a second apart. This has the effect of significantly improving mixture formation, combustion and fuel consumption.
Low fuel consumption and excellent power delivery are not at odds with each other on the second-generation Mercedes -Benz direct petrol injection model. On the contrary, the engine delivers 15 kW/20 hp more power than the conventional-injection V6 and four percent more torque. Thus the CGI engine combines its excellent fuel economy with a level of effortless driving enjoyment that is unprecedented in the six-cylinder segment. This allows the new CLS 350 CGI to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h(62.13 mph) in just 6.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 250 km/h(155.34 mph) (electronically limited).
The new Maserati Quattroporte – designed by the famous Pininfarina house – is he ultimate embodyment of qualities for which Italy is well-known worldwide: respect of beauty and good living, style, sophisticated engineering, genuinely sporty temperament and alluring exclusivity.
Other features also make this new Maserati a truly exclusive car: the compact, light, sophisticated 4.2-liter V8 engine that punches out 400 bhp; the Skyhook automatic damping system; the renowned MSP (Maserati Stability Program); electronically controlled power steering; and a powerful braking system.
What makes the Maserati Quattroporte absolutely irresistible is the combination of the technical solutions, the lack of any fussy details or complications, the sensuality of a line created by the world’s most famous stylists and a sophisticated bespoke leather and wood interior personalized to suit each individual owner.
Although there are other premium sedans that offer equal or greater luxury for less money, the Maserati Quattroporte is certainly the most exclusive and possesses the most flair among the sport-oriented luxury sedans.