Saturday, 18 September 2010

Aston Martin Rapide

Throughout history, Britain and America have had a mixed relationship, with America starting as kind of a junior offshoot of the UK, but soon blossoming into a much bigger player than the UK could ever manage.

Then America decided that they'd had enough of the interfering of the UK and declared independence, and Britain didn't take it too well. In truth, it probably started with a sarcastic comment made by a British politician which went straight over the head of an American, who, being of mainly German descent, only understood things at face value.

Then things were a bit icy for a few hundred years, kind of coexisting but not really engaging, like a divorcing couple before the husband has found a squalid two bedroom flat to rent.

Then, unwillingly, America were dragged into a couple of skirmishes that they didn't really want to be involved in, and relations were forced to improve between the two countries.

But because of this icy relationship for a couple of hundred years, two separate cultures developed, with the UK being a bit more European than American, and America being, well, different. If the two nations had been best of friends, it would probably not have developed, instead sharing much more culture between the two.

So we ended up, forced together, with two different cultures, two different attitudes towards cars. America was built on business, Britain on tradition. And this is reflected in the cars. 

American cars were built to minimise costs and maximise sales. And British cars were built to provide a bit of pomp to the aristocracy. The two don't mix.

But then in 1994, Ford purchased Aston Martin, and a brilliant symbiotic relationship was born. The British provided the style and luxury, and the Americans provided the business.

A failing, unprofitable British car maker became cool. And you started to see Aston Martins appearing on the roads, looking absolutely beautiful. And the range has grown to accomodate any overpaid executive's wallet.

The most recent addition is the Rapide (ignoring the stupid little Toyota iQ thingy). And it is, again, like any Aston Martin, absolutely beautiful. This is a four door car, to compete with, erm, the Porsche Panamera or the Maserati Quattoporte. And this is better looking than either, but to me, it looks like the designers have been trying a little bit too hard to make it look like an Aston.

And if you want a sensible four door saloon that looks like an Aston Martin, there is the Jaguar XF, which seems to have been designed around the premise of making a car as close to an Aston as possible without infringing copyright.

But this is a very nice car for those who very occasionally need the rear seats, but would like an Aston - otherwise there's no option in the range.

So it's an Aston, slightly more practical than a Vantage or a DB9, but aimed at the person who sometimes gives a lift to their midget friend, but if you have children and need something stylish to drop them at the school gates in, then the Quattroporte is a far more sensible option.

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