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2010 Aston Martin Rapide sure to draw celebrity drivers

Aston Martin Rapide at Aston Martin of Tampa - Photo (C) Tom LaPointe
The new 2010 Aston Martin Rapide sits in the showroom at Aston Martin of Tampa. Sure to be a celebrity favorite, the car is due in showrooms around April 2010, and will carry a pricetag of about $225k. (Photo by Tom LaPointe / Bartola Marketing Concepts, LLC)

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Look at the new 2010 Aston Martin Rapide, and one word comes to mind: svelte. Thus, lithe, urbane, suave, and sleek can all be synonymously applied to this beautiful four-door coupe from the storied British marque. And with its great looks, impressive performance, and a lofty price tag, it is sure to be a hit with the celebrity crowd. Though the car isn't due in United States showrooms until about April 2010, the car recently began its dealer tour of the country, and Aston Martin of Tampa was kind enough to give us a preview. Driving the car was a no-no, because apparently the DoT paperwork didn't come through in time, but we certainly enjoyed seeing, smelling and touching this rolling piece of art. Media accounts of test drives in Europe all describe the performance as on par with the Rapide's DB9 sibling.

Celebrities who reportedly drive or have had Aston Martin vehicles and are prime candidates for the new Rapide include Ryan Seacrest (American Idol host), Pierce Brosnan (James Bond actor kind of HAS to), Ben Affleck, supermodel Elle MacPherson, singer Janet Jackson, retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan, actress Jennifer Lopez and singer Marc Anthony, singer Missy Elliott, Kendra Wilkinson (Playboy model), and music producer Scott Storch.

This hot two-plus-two been described by the automotive media as a "DB9 and a Half", and that's both very accurate and a genuine compliment. In fact everything from the front fascia to the B pillar looks like it's pulled from the gorgeous DB9, and though the derriere has a hint of Mercedes-Benz CLS in the profile, it is distinctively Aston Martin, and definitely sexy. Only a full side profile reveals the obvious extra pair of doors, and it is a very cohesive design. Of all the über-sedans on the road, the Rapide (say RA-peed) is by far the most sensuous and sporty of the group, which includes everything from the Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera in the lower price point, to the AMG Benzes, Rolls-Royce Ghost and Bentley Flying Spur at the higher end of the price scale.
Essentially the engineers at Aston Martin took a truly great sports car - the DB9 - and added slightly more than a foot to accommodate the new styling. The result is a car that is actually 7 percent stiffer and retains nearly all of the performance attributes of the DB9. By reprogramming the drive train and changing the gear ratios they were able to get the magnificent beast hustled from 0-60 in just over five seconds to a top speed of nearly 190 MPH, thanks to its 470-horsepower , 6-liter V12 engine and 6-speed ZF Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission.
Just as the exterior maintains a sporty look, the interior brings all the plush luxury over from the DB9, and extends the leather and brushed metal accents to the plus-two seats in the back. Though the top of the rear door may be a bit low for some, once in the rear seats, there is more than adequate room for a pair of average-sized adults to enjoy an evening on the town. The rear seats may not be the most comfortable for cross-country travel (families will like the optional rear-seat DVD entertainment), but the real joy is driving and being seen in this car, and that should be just fine for most celebs. It is hard to find any fault with the Rapide, save for the massive blind spot created by the sloping C-pillars. Backup sensors will help mitigate the obstructed view, but a backup camera should probably be high on the list of future enhancements. And of course, 470 horsepower is nice, but even if they add the 510-horsepower power plant from the DBS, it is a bit on the low side for the price.
Speaking of price, celebrities (and everyone else) will have to pony up about $225k to be one of the 670 or so owners of the Aston Martin Rapide. No word on whether the sedan will make an appearance in a James Bond movie, but it's not a stretch to picture the super spy with THREE girls riding with him during his adventures.
Special thanks to Chris Warren and the team at Aston Martin of Tampa, part of the Elder Auto Group, which also carries Spyker, Fisker, and Jaguar at the same Tampa location. The dealership can be reached at 888.273.0310.
Check out the YouTube test drive video posted by Autocar

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