The Pink Floyd Sound came to be in the mid 1960s. A mish-mosh of folks from Sigma 6, The Spectrum Five, and the Tea Set (as well as a bunch more band names in between) came together over a love of blues and rock and roll, to revolutionize the world. They didn’t know they were doing so at the time, but Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright formed the basis for one of the most amazing bands in history.
Syd Barrett had his issues, and the band had their issues with Syd. That opened the door for David Gilmour, and the Pink Floyd Sound was honed into the shining prism of space rock that transformed multiple generations of music fans.
Music fans grow up.
That doesn’t mean, however, that their tastes need to change… they can instead evolve. Listen to a few tracks from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and then listen to The Wall. You’re hearing albums that are vastly different, yet you’re also hearing the heart and soul of Pink Floyd blasting forth from your speakers.
The band is a product of the United Kingdom, just like a certain automaker from Gaydon. Aston Martin formed a lot earlier than Pink Floyd, but it’s product lineup has remained true to a singular ideal over the years. It’s also evolved.
Case in point is the 2011 Aston Martin Rapide, a four-door exotic sedan that boasts seductive curves, an exclusive price tag, and the sort of sounds that assault the senses.
Caution… a lunatic is on the path.
This particular lunatic is a big fan of the color green. No… it’s not efficient. In fact, it’s 6.0-liter V12 engine pumps out 470 horsepower, 443 pound-feet of torque, and is rated to return 13 miles per gallon in the city. No, this car is green because it takes a shit load of cash to buy one. $220,040 in fact, to buy the one you see here. The base price is $207,895, but my test car features such options as a rear seat entertainment system, cooled front and rear seats, and $750 red brake calipers.
That shouldn’t be alarming though, because that’s the standard price of admission in the next-level playground. Everything else is but meddling echoes in a larger pond.
Your money won’t be spent in vain however. Scratch that, it will most certainly be a vain purchase, but the best kind of vanity, so long as you’re eager to enjoy the heart and soul buried under the aluminum and composite body.
A V12 is a beautiful thing, regardless of the engine bay in which it’s called into action. When placed between the sculpted fenders of the Rapide it represents Alpha Male aspirations, and presents them immediately. All I have to do is push the sapphire and stainless-steel
key emotional control unit into it’s central-dashboard home, where it plays double-duty as the start button. A light turns red, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and all twelve cylinders are called to order.
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Once the engine is firing, it’s merely a matter of a simple tug on the left paddle, located just behind the smooth steering wheel. Breathe. Then mash the thin throttle pedal to the plush carpet, and the Rapide responds with sonorous noises and swift forward movement. The tachometer needles begin to sweep North, one moving clockwise while the other swings counter-clockwise. If I push that tach needle too far towards the top of its range, the six-speed Touchtronic automatic transmission stumbles before grabbing the next gear. It doesn’t like to work at the limit of the rev range, but anything under that and the unit clicks off gear changes rather rapidly.
The gearbox is mounted in the back, and the engine is, of course, up front under the long hood. That means the 4,299 curb weight is spread out 49 percent towards the nose and 51 percent out back. Essentially, the car is more than up to the task of twisty canyon roads, emergency highway maneuvers, and empty parking-lot shenanigans. Steering is responsive and feedback is direct. Point the noise, press the gas, and hold on for interstellar overdrive.
At over 4,000 pounds, the Rapide needs to be able to stop as well as it goes and turns. Thankfully, Aston Martin has fitted its four door with rather massive brakes both front and rear. Six-piston calipers clamp on to 15-inch front rotors, while four-piston units grab on to 14-inch rear rotors. Massive speed is easy, yet so is massive braking force, which makes for a confident and comfortable driver.
It’s not just the driving experience that makes one comfortable in the Rapide though, as this is an Aston Martin product. The Rapide seats four, and each occupant gets their own wonderfully sculpted throne. These units would look at home in a track car, but they’re built to serve the dual purpose of comfort and support instead. Comfort, that is, for the driver and front passenger at least. Rear legroom is an abysmal 30.1-inches, which is more than three inches less than the legroom found in a Porsche Panamera. Anyone interested in sitting in the back better be small, flexible, and unafraid of the imposing roofline that seems to come all the way down to eye level.
The rear seat passengers will be happy knowing it’s not just numbing comfort up front. Aston Martin employs its outdated infotainment system in the Rapide. I love technology, and I enjoy fiddling with buttons, menus, and various screens that are a part of the modern automotive interior. I hated every second of attempting to get the navigation, audio , and Bluetooth system to do what I wanted. It’s extremely counter-intuitive, and I found myself calling the first person in my phonebook (Hello again, Aaron Gold!) when I merely wanted to set a satellite radio station as a preset. It’s a very sour note, along with the cramped rear seat, in an otherwise wonderful cabin.
Step outside of that cabin, however, and all is nearly forgotten. The 2011 Aston Martin Rapide is downright gorgeous. It’s unmistakably Aston, which means sculpted lines flow back gracefully from the aggressive nose. When Aston Martin engineers and designers got together and brought this car to life, it was clear that they knew how to keep the family lines intact. In fact, I may go so far as to say that this is the best-looking four-door automobile on the planet.
The Aston Martin Rapide is a stay-at-home supermodel that makes grocery store runs in 20-inch heels, er, wheels.
I love the Rapide, but I have to ask if it even make sense for Aston Martin to build a four-door? Of course it does. This car isn’t a logical choice, especially considering it costs over $200,000 just to call those swan doors your own. Still, it’s not supposed to be a logical choice. The Rapide represents a great day for freedom from such thoughts. You could spend less and get the much more competent Pamanera, or the much more stately Bentley Flying Spur. You could also spend about the same and get the more better-at-everything Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG. The Porsche is the most fun to drive of the bunch, the Bentley is an automotive bespoke suit, and the S65 is a luxury German assault weapon.
Still… none of those are an Aston Martin.
There’s more to the Rapide than its 6.0-liter V12, shapely skin, and the auditory intercourse of its exhaust tones. Holding that heavy key (it’s a key, sorry Aston Martin) in the palm of your hand makes you feel like you’re doing something very right with your life. Not because you have the money to buy the Rapide, but because you’ve chosen to do so. You’re an international spy, a British rock star, a celebrity, or you’re just a person with high hopes who wants to run like hell. You’re all of that in the Rapide, and with a press of the throttle you can leave all of that behind as well.
Hit the gas, and have a cigar.