Rapide engineers boost rear room as Aston releases first pic of signed-off car
15 April 2009

Aston Martin has squeezed extra head and leg room into the rear cabin of its £140k Rapide four-door as it prepares to battle the £70k Porsche Panamera this year.

The Rapide will face up to a surprisingly well packaged Panamera, which early experience suggests has plenty of leg, head and elbow room, despite its sports car heritage.

The 5m-long, front-engined, rear-drive Porsche is nearly as roomy as luxury saloons such as the Mercedes S-class.

“We know the Rapide isn’t a limousine, it’s a four-door sports car,” says Aston Martin. “But four adults will fit in comfortably — not for trans-continental drives but certainly shorter journeys.”

The Rapide is due to be unveiled later this year. Much of the work from the 2006 Detroit concept, which had a coupé-style rear package, will be transferred to the new Aston.

Engineers have made major strides to improve that design, for example with detail changes to the motors under both front seats, giving rear occupants more foot room.

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The rear seats, which are based on the DB9’s buckets, have to be squeezed in on each side of a wide central backbone and generous sills.

The ‘swan-wing’ rear doors have also been re-engineered to hinge to a more upright position to improve access.

Aston today revealed a teaser image of the Rapide, just ahead of Porsche’s Panamera unveiling in Shanghai.

This picture is described as “the first rendering taken from the signed-off car”.

Despite the packaging changes, Aston has kept the design very similar to the original concept, with an elegant waistline running the length of the car.

Ollie Stallwood

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