2009 FRANKFURT MOTOR SHOW: Aston Martin Rapide Finally Arrives

If it seems like the Aston Martin Rapide has been right around the corner for a few years now, that's because it has been. Certainly Ford putting Aston up for sale caused a bit of a delay in the program, and we can't even drive the Rapide until 2010. But that didn't stop mobs of people from congregating around the car at last night's private reveal or today's press conference.

It's impossible not to think of Porsche's new Panamera sedan, or four-door coupe if you prefer, when looking at the Rapide. Both the Rapide and the Panamera are four-door offerings from companies traditionally known for delivering stunning coupes. Most people seem to prefer the styling of the Aston Martin Rapide, though it's always difficult to find people who don't love the way an Aston looks. Aston particularly holds the edge when looking at the rear of the car where Porsche opted for headroom over all-out style.

While the Aston may look sexier on the outside, the Porsche has a strong advantage when it comes to interior appointments. The poor Rapide is saddled with Aston's archaic center stack design and rather dated navigation system. Porsche has a clear edge on interior design and functionality since the Panamera was designed to fit Wendelin Wiedeking, a rather tall former CEO, in the back seat and Porsche generally has a more modern infotainment system than Aston.

Hopefully Aston Martin has an extensive upgrade for its infotainment system coming soon. That's one of the very few areas its cars need to be improved in to be competitive now. It's a bit surprising the Porsche Panamera is more focused on passenger comfort and the Aston Martin Rapide is aimed at involving the driver, but that's exactly the way I see it. I'll bet it's almost impossible to buy either car for the first year or two of production anyway.

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