Aston Martin Rapide: Control
information supplied by: Aston Martin
15 September 2009
As the culmination of the Aston Martin range, Aston Martin’s engineers have gained much experience and learning from the development of the DBS, DB9 and Vantage range of sports cars – this wealth and breadth of experience has all been channelled into Rapide to produce a four door with unrivalled sports car characteristics.
The basic ingredients have already been proven: the powerful engine, the lightweight yet stiff understructure, the honing in the toughest environments around the world and the exhaust note which is always evocative no matter which model. Applying these characteristics to Rapide alongside a car which is a practical four-door, was the engineers’ greatest challenge to date.
The result is a car that feels every bit a sports car as its siblings, yet provides versatility in a beautiful package. With the six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic gearbox mounted to the rear of the car on the transaxle, the Rapide’s weight balance is near perfect at: 51:49, contributing to its outstanding dynamics. This provides the driver with an engaging drive on twisty roads, and a refined, relaxed and effortless drive on motorways and main roads. The 20” wheels are clad with Bridgestone Potenza S001 (Front: 245/40 R20, Rear: 295/35 R20) but specifically for Rapide feature a taller side wall to help dial out vibration and contribute to a quieter cabin.
For the first time on an Aston Martin, Rapide features a dual cast brake system. The discs are made from two materials, cast iron and aluminium. The new technology provides dynamic advantages in the form of reduced unsprung mass with a brake that is 15-20% lighter than a standard cast iron brake. Using both cast iron and aluminium takes advantage of the heat resistance provided by cast iron and the weight saving properties of aluminium. In addition, greater braking performance, reduced corrosion, and less wear are all benefits associated with the Rapide dual cast brake system.
Rapide’s brake system features a new braking module delivering more discreet interventions and provides improved functionality for existing features as well as the new Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), which provides assistance in emergency braking situations. The Hydraulic Brake Assist function identifies when the driver requires maximum braking performance, from the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed, and automatically boosts the brake pressure up to the ABS control threshold for as long as the driver keeps the brake pedal pressed down. As a result, stopping distances can be substantially reduced.
To take full advantage of its extremely rigid platform, the Rapide features Adaptive Damping System (ADS) first seen on the DBS which uses two separate valves to set the dampers to five different positions, allowing instant adjustment of the car’s ride and handling characteristics. The ADS automatically alters the suspension settings to ensure the driver has high levels of control at all times, with the ability to respond instantly to different road conditions and driver inputs.
The Rapide’s Adaptive Damping System perfectly captures the car’s sporting character, ensuring that stiffer dampers are available for better handling and control when the car is being driven enthusiastically, without compromising ride comfort during ‘normal’ driving conditions. A designated ‘Sport’ mode automatically sets all dampers to their firmest positions, making it ideal for spirited driving.
The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system has been specifically tuned for Rapide with emphasis on its sporting characteristics. A two-stage DSC system allows the driver to tailor the level of electronic intervention according to the type of driving. In default mode, the system is set to ‘on’ which will limit any tyre slip in difficult conditions, and provide the maximum amount of security possible with out being intrusive. Holding the DSC button for 5 seconds will disengage the system completely, allowing a pure dynamic experience.