Aston Martin Rapide

Seriously sporty luxury sedans are popping up all over the automotive landscape these days. This new breed of four-door saloon delivers a never-before-seen combination of opulence and performance. At the start of this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, most considered the Mercedes-Benz CLS tops in the class, followed perhaps by the BMW M5. But that pecking order will change when this sleek DB9-derived machine hits the ground running.

The Rapide (pronounced RAH-peed) is Aston Martin's first four-door in more than 30 years. Built on the company's light and extremely stiff VH platform-just like the new v-s Vantage and, of course, the DB9 coupes-the elongated body has the same proportions, sinuous lines, and silhouette as its two-door siblings. And because 'ıt shares the DB9's fully independent suspension, the Rapide should feel just as well-balanced on the road-a responsive but not harsh ride that hugs the asphalt even in the tightest corners. According to sources, the concept's 480-horsepower, 6-liter V-12-mated to a ZF 6-speed Touchtronic gearbox-will make it into the final design.

That should propel this beauty from O to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, topping out at about 186 mph. True to form, the English coach builder went all out with the interior. It's an exquisite mix of wood, polished aluminum, and plush leather. You'll also find a navigation system in the dash, a DVD entertainment setup with rear-facing LCD screens mounted in the front-seat headrests, and Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone integration. Judging by the hysteria it generated among the public and pros on the show circuit, this dream car will surely top every enthusiast's must have list. It's simply a matter of superior genetics.

No comments: