Object of Desire: Aston Martin Rapide

Ben Oliver road tests the brand new Aston Martin Rapide – the coolest four-door, four-seat supercar of 2010

 The Sultan of Brunei is unquestionably Aston Martin’s best-ever customer. During the 1990s he put around 300 Aston Martins into his collection of at least 3000 cars. Given that Aston only made 46 cars in 1992, there’s a good chance that without the Sultan back then, there would be no Aston Martin today. And its new Rapide is exactly the kind of car he likes. He and his brother Jefri commissioned Aston to build bespoke saloon and even estate versions of the old V8 Vantage, because he understood that a four-door, four- seat supercar is a spectacularly cool thing to have. Once again, Aston has turned to the Sultan for inspiration.

The new Rapide won’t be anything like as rare as those Brunei specials, even though Aston’s sales, like those of all the top marques, have slowed over the past two years. In better times, Aston hopes to sell 2000 Rapides in a year, outstripping the DB9 on which it’s based and second only to the Vantage. So this is no low-volume collector-special: it’s a critical new model for the firm.