The 180-mph super-sedan that Aston Martin will pitch against the Porsche Panamera has been revealed for the first time.
First seen at the 2006 Detroit auto show, the production Rapide is nearly identical to the 196.9-inch-long concept. It uses a long-wheelbase version of the DB9's aluminum platform.
Most noticeable of the styling differences is the exaggerated swage line running along the front wing and door, similar to a feature proposed but not used on the V8 Vantage when Henrik Fisker ran Aston design.
Otherwise, the Rapide's skin follows the handsome, swooping look of the concept but with crisper shoulders and hood creases. Insiders say this shows the future styling direction favored by design chief Marek Reichman.
The nose of the car also has a cleaner look with a single, wide lower air intake. The concept and prototypes have inlets that flank the sides of the lower air intake.
Aston's engineers have stretched the DB9's wheelbase by 10 inches, taking the Rapide's overall size to nearly 197 inches, the benchmark length for luxury sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz S-class.
Despite the swooping roofline, the Rapide is about 2.5 inches taller than a DB9, an increase that ensures the styling retains its balance yet also offers practical rear headroom.
Aston has worked on the concept's design to ensure that the rear cabin is as usable as possible. The package is designed to seat a smaller person and will be trimmed with two individual buckets on either side of the transmission tunnel.
The rear doors hinge with a swan-neck design similar to that of the front doors, but they open to a larger angle to improve the limited footwell access found in the concept.
Similarly, the electric motors for the front power seats are repackaged to allow rear passengers to slide their feet under the front seat.
The Rapide concept was a hatchback and so is the production car. There is a parcel shelf so cargo can be hidden from view.
Under the hood is a slightly more powerful version of the DB9's 6.0-liter V12, rated at 480 hp, and mated to a six-speed ZF automatic transmission with Aston's Touchtronic control.
The Rapide will be about 287 pounds heavier than a DB9, weighing in at around 4,277 pounds. That might blunt acceleration slightly, but the Rapide will still be rapid with a top speed of more than 180 mph and making the 0-to-60 mph run in about 4.5 seconds.
The new car's launch is penciled in for a either the Frankfurt motor show in September or the Los Angeles auto show a few months later. The price will slot between the DB9 and DBS at around $200,000.