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Aston Martin’s US$240,000 Rapide still not as fast as a Tesla

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There are plenty of new things to love about the track-ready sedan Aston Martin has announced it will start making later this year.

[NEW YORK] There are plenty of new things to love about the track-ready sedan Aston Martin has announced it will start making later this year.

The Aston Martin Rapide AMR is lower, more powerful, and throatier than its racing stripe-less counterparts. Of course, at US$240,000, it's quite a bit pricier, too.

This is the production version of the concept we saw last year at the Geneva Motor Show — the highest-tuned version of that four-door Brit, with back seats so small they would serve as an excellent interrogation space. (They're not quite torture, but they're uncomfortable enough to make a person question choices.)

The Rapide AMR follows the debut of the DB11 AMR and is meant to bridge the gap between the company's successful racing team and its road-going cars. It's 580bhp V12 engine has 28 more bhp than the base Rapide. It sits slightly lower, and is tuned tighter—if you took it to a track, you would notice the difference.

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But when a standard-issue Rapide S costs US$205,000, looks more like something its most famous owner, James Bond, would drive, and gets you to 60mph in exactly the same 4.2-second sprint time, is the extra thrust on the Aston Martin Racing version worth the additional coin?

Probably not. Even with all of the new things you'll have on this Rapide AMR, you still won't be able to touch the 2.5-second sprint time on the US$123,200 Model S P100D, nor the 3.6 seconds of the US$154,000 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. (I hope it wasn't lost on you how much cheaper those other cars are.)

And Aston Martin's real brand strength comes in the elegance of its look and driving persona, not from how mean and aggressive it can be on the track. Leave that to McLaren. (Yes Aston Martin won Le Mans last year and is a true racing company for the ages. But when it comes to brand image, I'm betting the brand gets more mileage out of its historic association with a debonair spy, and the visual style of the fewer-than 5,200 cars it sells globally each year.)

The Rapide is the most beautiful four-door car on the market today, much more classic and timeless and rich, visually speaking, than both the Model S and the Panamera. Dressing it in carbon-fibre sporting gear is like seeing James Bond in Under Armor. Not exactly how you pictured it in your head.

But anyway! If you're in love with Aston Martin and really want something you can take on the track without having to fork over millions and years off your life waiting for some version of that promised Valkyrie hypercar, the AMR could be your ticket to ride.

And like I said, there's enough here to ogle for quite some time.

Along with that screaming centre stripe and three new livery exclusive design schemes, the Rapide AMR has special exterior badging and interior stitching, forged rims and a steering wheel taken straight from the One-77 supercar—both offered here for the first time by Aston Martin—that make it immediately known as something special.

It also sits 10mm lower than the Rapide S, which means that it will feel more focused and agile from behind the wheel. Its suspension systems have all been optimised—via extensive testing around the Nürburgring, no less. And it carries extra aerodynamic-enhanced bodywork like the front splitter, side sills, rear diffuser, spoiler, and lid on the trunk, all of which are done in carbon fiber.

A new hood with extra-large ventilation inserts also made from carbon fibre, and carbon-ceramic disc brakes, contribute to a presumed total weight savings compared to the Rapide S. (Aston Martin was unable to provide the exact weight of the Rapide AMR by the time of this story's publication).

Top speed has yet to be announced, but expect it to peak around 208mph.

Aston executives say the whole thing is supposed to feel like driving the irreproachable Aston Martin Vantage GT12. Of course, they're making just 210 of them, with only a quarter of that coming to the United States, so few of us will be able to know for sure if that claim holds.

In the meantime, you may have better luck getting a Tesla.

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