The Aston Martin Rapide | Part Three

Reichman describes the 'beautiful harmony' of the line that runs through the Rapide's bodywork, giving the car the appearance of motion even while stationary, an athlete in flight, rather than crouched and coiled upon the starting blocks. “It’s not a wedge, it’s graceful and flowing,” he explains, “we decided to let the lines flow right through the body to the tail, which ends very beautifully. In silhouette, the Rapide shares the same sinuous line as its two-door siblings, although when compared with the poised stance of the Vantage with its sprinter-like forward thrust, the Rapide is a long distance runner.” Reichman believes that proportion is fundamental to how a car is perceived. “There are forms that appear at ease and forms that appear tense and uncomfortable,” he says, “we wanted to make everything on the Rapide work in harmony.” Achieving this required the intuitive skills of Aston Martin’s modeling team, who work with both raw clay models and advanced computer modelling. “We put character and feeling into the surface,” says Reichman. “Our designers and modellers work with a sculptural language here at Aston Martin - the play of light on the surface are incredibly important to us.” Full-scale models are viewed in daylight and dusk conditions, for example, to ensure that the dramatic surface forms remain an integral element of each and every Aston Martin. Reichman believes that technology like the VH architecture allows him “to keep the form language and soul of the product.”

The Rapide represents the pinnacle of Aston Martin's design ethos, a formal language developed through the carefully balanced combination of elegance and aggression. In silhouette, three-quarters view and from both the front and rear, the Rapide is instantly recognisable as an Aston Martin, regardless of whether it is wearing the famous winged badge (still faithfully rendered in pewter and enamel on every model). The soft curves of the flank kick up into muscular haunches above the rear wheel arches, with the roofline staying low, true to the distinctive Aston Martin silhouette. The Rapide also features the metal side strakes, another signature feature, while the doors feature Aston Martin's unique 'swan wing' design, opening upwards at a 12-degree angle away from the kerb to provide greater access. The rear doors cut unexpectedly deep into the flank below the C-pillar, increasing the width of the opening to improve access. At 5m long, the Rapide is 30cm longer than a DB9, and only 140kg heavier. “Aston Martin should always be about the proportions,” Reichman says. “Although the Rapide is slightly taller than the DB9, the proportion of the section is the same, allowing the flowing lines to encase a spacious passenger compartment.”

continues... | Part Four
Published 11 January 2006 Melanie Carter

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