2010 Aston Martin Rapide first drive review

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So, I wanted to give you a few more days to build up some slack-jawed anticipation for Motor Authority's first drive of the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide, which just happened Tuesday. Also, to give myself some sentient moments on the other side of jetlag. But embargoes and souls are made to be broken: some dead-tree publication ran their Aston Rapide story today. So with Aston's blessing, we're going to tell you everything you want to know, short of how to embezzle enough to actually own one. Buckle up, and hang on.

It's their first proper four-door in the modern era, but Aston Martin seems to want you to forget that its 2010 Rapide is actually a sedan. Think sportscar, they say. Tone down your gut reactions. Don't even think of the German sedans you might be tempted to mention in the same breath.

Previewed at the 2006 Detroit auto show, when Aston Martin was still part of the Ford empire, the Rapide probably is the most eagerly awaited car in the ultra-luxury niche. Maybe because it's been on boil for so long--or maybe because its dramatic shape seems like the ultimate common-sense blend of fierce performance and fierce sheetmetal.

Conceived in good times, the Rapide happens to be ready for the world just when the world's not quite ready for it. There's a recession going on out there, you know. And not only is crisis the new black, the whole transition from the Ford empire to Kuwaiti-based financial independence has taken some time, and given the competition a window in which to have its way with coupe-like four-doors. There's now a capable Porsche Panamera out there, not to mention new versions of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Audi A8. Each of them could, hypothetically, lay claim to some Aston Martin fans too trigger-happy to wait until it goes on sale in April.

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

But that's not going to happen, says Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez. That's because the Rapide is one of a kind. As he claims, it's the only true four-door sportscar in the world.

Clearly he hasn't driven an old Nissan Maxima "4DSC," right?

Either that, or he's absolutely right.

To settle the issue, I graciously accepted Aston Martin's invitation to forgo sleep and to endure Air France en route to Valencia, Spain, for the first drive of the Rapide. Between relentless doses of cured Spanish ham and oranges, I torpedoed around Valencia's oddly fantastic cluster of public buildings and in the orange-groved hills nearby, barely surviving a certain buff-book writer performing the entire second half of the Dreamgirls soundtrack.

And after a long day's ride, I figured out that I agreed with Bez.

After all, he has a point. The Rapide is matchless.

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