The Sports Saloon
For generations, sports car enthusiasts have been forced to divide the garage. On one side, the family vehicle: spacious, trusty, boring. On the other side, the weekend passion: sleek, fast, and hot. With the introduction of Aston Martin’s Rapide, weekend racers are going to have to figure out what do with all the extra room in the garage.
At first glance, you’d swear the Rapide is a coupe. The sleek lines and the unmistakable look of an Aston Martin sports car are all present. But closer inspection reveals the presence of two more doors and the reality that this is a sedan, or to use the European term, a saloon. The Rapide is a sports saloon, with all of the performance and luxury we’ve come to expect from Aston Martin, plus the convenience of a four-door vehicle.
”It’s funny to think of convenience with a sports car,” says Beth Paretta, Operations Manager for Aston Martin. “But this model appeals to a lot of our customers—young professionals who have children, older customers with grandchildren, the idea of two couples wanting to go out for dinner in their Aston. It’s a more efficient car to do all things in.”
Welcome to the age of the all-purpose sports car. For those with kids in the backseats, there is a screen in each of the frontseat headrests. Both screens can play the same thing if the kids can agree on something. If not, she can watch a movie while he plays video games. The movie’s sound can also be played throughout the car on the 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, or just to individuals via wireless headphones while the driver enjoys music on the sound system. If everyone in the car is going to be listening to the sound system, Acoustic Lens Technology (ALT) automatically configures the sound in the car based on a passenger count tabulated using sensors in the seat belts. The comfort of every passenger can be individually controlled down to the seats themselves through internal seat warmers and coolers. And, for the most precious of passengers, there are approved child seats that work specifically with the Rapide. If you’re going to be using the Rapide for space instead of passengers, the touch of a button will drop the two rear seats forward, creating generous storage space usually unheard of in high-performance cars.
Although much has been made of the car’s flexibility, it is first and foremost a sports car. It shares the same underpinnings as Aston Martin’s DBS, DB9, and Vantage. The only difference between the Rapide and one of their two-door models is that you can show three other people what 0–60 in five seconds feels like instead of just the one. Aston Martin’s CEO, Dr. Ulrich Bez, is so confident about the Rapide’s abilities that he’s personally racing it at the 24 Hours Nürburgring race in Germany.
“It’s definitely a sports car. There’s a lot of sedans on the market that are big and bulky and could fit a million people in it. That’s not this car,” says Cassie Carver of Lake Forest Sportscars. “But for the true car enthusiasts, it’s the ultimate sports sedan.” — JAKE JARVI