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Aston Martin Rapide

The beauty to take on the beast

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News of Aston Martin joining the four door saloon race is heating up with the news of the Aston Martin Rapide being unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show later this month.

In a trend that has seen Porsche create their own version to compete with the like’s of the BMW 7-Series, Aston Martin seem to have come up with a much more handsome version of what is an elongated Aston Martin DB9 as the Porsche Panamera is an elongated 911.

From first glance of the Aston Martin Rapide one could be forgiven for thinking it was an Aston Martin DB9, with its trademark long bonnet, slanted panther eyes, and chrome air intakes finished off with that badge. From the side view, the one which lets the Porsche Panamera down so badly, the Aston Martin Rapide sits well with it’s new size and can quite happily pull off its new cosmetics, while the derrière looks as nimble as the DB9.

Swing open the Rapide’s upwards opening ‘Swann Doors’ and as you would expect the interior is both elegant, and stylish with its ‘highly tailored individual cockpit. A transparent polycarbonate roof brings an increased sense of spatial awareness, opening up the passengers' vistas beyond the driver’s focus on the road ahead. This ultra-light transparent material is a first for the company. In terms of gadgets this Aston is as packed as a fat girls hockey sock, with dual climate zones, and the luxuriously appointed rear seats come with their own DVD screens and controls for the audio system and environmental system.

More excitingly if you, like me spend half of your journey fighting with the Sat Nav lady, this can now be controlled with a handheld Bluetooth unit that allows rear seat passengers to add their input to the route ahead. This would make me slightly nervous if I had kids in the car as I could only imagine the destinations I would end up, instead of turning up at Chester Zoo and Alton Towers at random intervals, I can quite easily envisage myself being like the chap who was trying to go to Stamford Bridge for a Chelsea game from Northampton and drove all the way to its name sake in East Yorkshire.

In terms of practicality the hatchback has enough room for four adults to sit in relative comfort or three players and three sets of golf clubs, however I would not use the car for any paparazzi events as I can see no elegant way of clambering out of the rear seats, just removing yourself from the rear of the car can seem somewhat similar to a commando role.

The Aston Martin Rapide is based on the DB9 and has the same 6-litre V12 engine, creating jet like thrust of 470bhp, and a (still to be confirmed) top speed of 190mph. In essence it is simply using a stretched DB9 aluminum platform giving an extra 12inch length while keeping the excellent light and sturdy body of the brilliant Aston Martin DB9.

The estimated starting price for the Aston Martin Rapide is £150,000 putting it in direct competition with the Porsche Panamera, and it has to be said it makes the German alternative look like quite an ugly alternative.

A big choice for anyone looking for a tourer however at present I can’t see why anyone would choose the Porsche over the beautiful Aston Martin Rapide, or as one Times columnist wrote, this is what the Panamera could have been.