Hello, my name is Bond, Brian Bond, and I’m the newest Agent from Automotive Rhythms. My mission requires me to have transportation that is stealthy, super luxurious, ultra powerful, and has accommodations for three Bond Girls.
Okay, I am back to reality, but my brief life as 007 continued during my test time behind the wheel of the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide.
If you’ve lived in a cave the past few decades, you may not know that the iconic British car maker Aston Martin has had a long relationship with the James Bond movie franchise. The association began in 1964 with the film “Goldfinger” featuring a DB5, and has continued to the present, with the DBS making its first public appearance in “Casino Royale.” In 2008, the DBS made another appearance in “Quantum of Solace,” which took the marques’ total to 10 Bond film appearances.
So is the new Rapide worthy of the title Aston Martin? Would Bond drive one? You better believe it!
The Rapide breaks new ground for an Aston Martin, following the latest designer trend of being a four door “coupe.” The front view features a signature wide mouth grille, two functional hood vents and sixteen LEDs that function as Daytime Running Lights. Overall styling is breathtakingly swoopy, yet not so extreme as to polarize the jaded Aston Martin masses. Think Porsche 911 and the new Panamera, and you can see the parallel I’m making, as Aston Martin, like Porsche, has made its name on building powerful coupes (the two-door variety!) over the years. The design is so sleek the Rapide was awarded the Best Production Car Design of 2009 as voted for by design peers in the industry magazine, Car Design News. According to Car Design News, the Rapide was chosen for “its elegant, sporting proportions combined with emotional surfaces and exquisite detailing.”
Open the four doors on the Rapide, and the car appears to take flight, as it features “Swan” doors that gently and gracefully open upward, allowing for easier access to the well appointed cabin. Close those doors, and you are in for a treat. Start at the upper dash, and watch two tweeters rise when the audio system is turned on, part of the powerful 15 speaker, 1000 watt Bang & Olufsen “Beosound Rapide” audio system. This system is so precise and sophisticated that it has sensors mounted on the seatbelts to determine how many people are in the car and their location and will adjust the soundstage for the optimum sound experience. The center stack features gorgeous blond wood, artfully carved to accommodate the standard navigation system.
Rear passengers are also ensconced in comfort, as the center tunnel runs the full length of the interior, offering separate accommodations for rear passengers. The rear seats feature power recline, and can also fold flat at the touch of a button. This fold flat feature, combined with an already roomy storage area behind the rear seats (perfect for optional custom Aston Martin luggage!), and a unique folding partition in the trunk renders the Rapide as the first four door Coupe/SUV!
Rear passengers can also enjoy the optional Aston Martin rear entertainment system with two LCD screens integrated into the back of the front seat headrests and a six DVD changer mounted in the trunk. As you recline, you can enjoy multiple media sources independently of your fellow rear companion via infra-red remote control and wireless headphones.
To put your Rapide in “rapid” forward motion, insert the crystal key fob into a slot on the center stack, and listen to the not so subtle rumble of V12 power. Select your appropriate gear by pushing a center stack mounted shift button. I loved this feature as for me it harkened back to the Chryslers of years gone by with their dash-mounted, push-button trannies. The “Touchtronic 2” six speed transmission features drive by wire technology, and magnesium steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Behind the wheel, every control just seems to naturally fall into place. The thick, leather wrapped steering wheel tunnels your focus onto the two main gauge clusters. Select the appropriate suspension setting depending on your desire for full sport capability or maximum comfort. Choose D for Drive or manipulate the paddle shifters. Step on the accelerator pedal hard. Glance in the mirror to see the ever-widening smile on your face.
That smile comes from the brutal force the V12 puts forth. The 6.0-liter unit features 470 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Zero to sixty miles per hour comes up in a scant 5.1 seconds, and the Rapide tops out at 188 mph. Given these impressive performance numbers, the view that most will have of your Rapide is of the rear, which features taillamps that house 360 LEDs each.
Once in motion, ride quality and handling are excellent. Damping is well controlled, even when the Rapide is in its “sport” handling mode. Never does this car beat you up, as that would be very un Bond-like.
For the first time in an Aston Martin, the Rapide features a “Dual Cast” brake system. The discs are made from cast iron and aluminum. The new technology provides dynamic advantages in the form of reduced unsprung mass with a brake that is 15-20% lighter than a standard cast iron brake. In addition, greater braking performance, reduced corrosion, and less wear are all benefits associated with the new system. The Rapide also features a new Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), which provides assistance in emergency braking situations. HBA identifies when the driver requires maximum braking performance, from the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed, and automatically boosts the brake pressure up to the ABS control threshold for as long as the driver keeps the brake pedal pressed down. The result under ideal conditions is substantially shorter braking distances.
Rapide pricing is set at $199,500, with only a few options like cooled seats and the aforementioned rear seat entertainment system available. This model is a very strong indication that Aston Martin is a player in the “affordable” supercar class.
Reaction to the Rapide from passersby was quite interesting. Several gave me the “thumbs up,” while several others looked at me with disdain as if I was too much of a snob to matter.
But that is the life as Agent 007, err, as a test car reviewer for Automotive Rhythms. Me and my Bond Girls are off on another adventure, covering immense swaths of ground very quickly in the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide.