The Rapide is a relative dinosaur in the contemporary Aston Martin range, but just before it bows out, Aston has decided to use it as a test bed for future electrification. Aston has developed the Rapide E in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering. This is the first model that Aston Martin will manufacture in the new St Athan facility in Wales.
As its name suggests, the Rapide E is based on the petrol-powered Rapide. But in place of the 5.9-litre V12 engine, automatic transmission and fuel tank, it has a 65kWh lithium ion battery pack. The battery pack is then encased in carbonfibre and kevlar, and cooled or heated to maintain ideal efficiency. That battery pack then goes on to feed two electric motors mounted on the rear axle. These together produce a peak power of 601bhp, with 950Nm of torque – both of which are available from zero rpm.
The power is then sent to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential. The Rapide E can go to 100kmph in under four seconds, with 80-120kmph achieved in just 1.5sec. This type of rapid acceleration is typical of high-powered electric models. Ironically makes this most efficient Rapide also the quickest.
Aston Martin say the range is over 320km on the new WLTP cycle. The car’s batteries can recharge in as little as 40 minutes via the inbuilt 800V circuitry from 100kW charge points. More widespread 50kW chargers will still charge the batteries in around 90 minutes, if conditions are suitable, of course.
Aesthetically, the Rapide E doesn’t deviate far from the standard model. It shares some of it’s new styling features with the recent Rapide AMR. Shared elements include the front fascia and side skirts. However, the lack of a rear exhaust system has allowed Aston Martin’s designers to dramatically reshape the rear diffuser and underbody. This cleans up the airflow from underneath the body. Aston Martin has also fitted new forged alloy wheels, and blue-tinted carbonfibre details dotted around the exterior.
The interior has undergone more subtle changes, with the same carbon dash as found in the AMR. A new 10-inch screen displaying all relevant EV-centric information replaces the classic analogue dial pack from the standard Rapide.
The Rapide E might look familiar, but it is a big step for a company which has vowed to put electrification right at the top of its product plans in the future. Despite the basic Rapide’s relative age, as an exercise in Aston Martin’s ambition towards electrification, the Rapide E is a stark statement of intent, and quite a contrast to the car we first saw in concept form all the way back in 2006. Prices for the limited model are ‘on request’. Aston Martin is taking orders immediately for delivery later this year, and into 2020.