2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

It's no secret that Aston Martin has been working on several vehicles that don't exactly sync with the brand's traditional image. It is becoming a trend among premium auto makers to expand their lineups to increase sales volume and appeal to larger groups of consumers. The British company is planning some extensive changes to it's product range over the next six years. Here is a summary of the highlights.

One-77: Limited Edition, Ultimate Performance
To start things off, the One-77 is proof of Aston Martin's commitment to un-compromised luxury and performance. A supercar in every sense of the word, it will go on sale this year, with volume limited to 77 units.

Cygnet: Toyota iQ-based Luxury Compact
The Cygnet has almost nothing in common with the cars we have come to expect from Aston Martin. Although it has been said to match the luxury found in other Astons, its real purpose is to provide a major decrease in the average tailpipe emissions of the brand's lineup. It's expected in Europe in 2011 and will be a the key to meeting 2015 emissions regulations.

DB9, Vantage, DBS Refresh: Classics Aging Gracefully
Due to be updated in 2013, 2014, and 2015, these three familiar beauties are still the foundation of the company's car building philosophy. Plans for the DB9 and DBS include refreshed exterior designs, improved chassis performance, and increased power. Weight reduction is a primary goal for the new Vantage. Aston Martin is targeting lower emissions for the next generation of all three models.

Lagonda: Unconventional SUV With Signature Aston Styling
They won't be the first sports car company to introduce an SUV, but there won't be anything else like this on the road. Rumors suggest tweaks to the concept's exterior design prior to actual production.  With a launch targeted for 2014, this is one we'll have wait patiently for.

Rapide: Another Exotic Luxury Performance Sedan
Last on the list is their first entry into the sedan segment. Although many enthusiasts have yet to be convinced, cars like the Rapide and Panamera by Porsche prove an exotic car with more than two doors can be quite appealing.  Aston Martin will continue to perfect the Rapide along with its siblings, the DB9 and Vantage until its reintroduction in 2016.

I still have mixed feelings about the diversification strategies being used by some of the more exotic, low volume brands. One of the appealing things about an Aston Martin is that they are rare, extravagant, and have what it takes to perform on the track. When you add a re-badged Toyota with a fancy interior to the mix, does it not cheapen the image of the brand overall? When you add more models with the intentions of increasing sales volume, does the novelty begin to diminish? Fuel efficiency regulations can't be avoided, and there's only so much one can do to make a performance car green. The truth is, the future of the automotive industry is a very different place than it is today. Tiny Aston Martins, hybrid Porsches, and fully electric Audis may be quite common some day. I'm not too concerned, considering the direction of companies like Hennessey, who has introduced a 1200hp Lotus Elise-based rocket.

[Motor Authority, Autocar]