DB9 grows two more doors
3 January 2006

Aston Martin is about to stun the automotive world with a graceful V12 four-door saloon concept at next week’s Detroit motor show.

The new car, named the Rapide, neatly extends Aston Martin’s design cues to a completely new model and revives a name used for an early ’60s Lagonda four-door, though Aston bosses say there is no plan to revive the Lagonda marque itself.

The new Rapide, built on the same versatile VH aluminium monocoque platform used for Aston’s DB9 and V8 Vantage sports cars, breaks cover at the very moment the company seemed to have stopped launching new models to concentrate on reducing the waiting lists for its existing cars.

And though the Rapide is firmly labelled a concept, the fact that it is already a runner indicates it could be in production by 2008, at least a year ahead of Porsche’s forthcoming four-door, the Panamera, plans for which were announced last summer.

The Rapide uses Aston’s 6.0-litre quad-cam V12, as found in the DB9, and is tipped to produce 450-480 bhp. It will drive through a rear-mounted automatic gearbox controlled by paddle-shifts, as in the DB9.

The car was designed and built over the past six months by a 12-man team led by Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s new head of design. The main elements of the Rapide were laid down within eight weeks, and the car was completed just before Christmas.

Though every shape and dimension of the Rapide is new, it has a loose relationship with the DB9. It grows by 250mm in wheelbase and 300mm in overall length to a full five metres, most of the extra length going onto the rear overhang to balance the long, graceful lines that flow through the car. It is about 40mm taller (also to improve the lines rather than improve headroom) and 40mm wider at the rear.

Aston won’t publicly admit to any plan to build the Rapide for production, but the car seems likely to fit into Aston’s model plans from 2008. It’s likely to cost £160,000 and to be built at a rate of around 500 a year — accounting for around 10 per cent of the company’s volume.

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