2010 Aston Martin Rapide

Don Sherman
Matt Tierney

The Aston Martin Rapide will instantly draw comparisons to the Porsche Panamera Turbo sedan, but these two are as different as asparagus and ice cream. Even though the automakers tell us that the Panamera is only 44 pounds heavier, the Aston feels so much lighter. The Aston delivers excellent steering and sharp turn-in for a sense of compact agility that can lead you to quickly forget that there are two doors behind you. The V-12 experience lives up to its 470-hp output, but Aston's been a bit too conservative with the exhaust tuning. The six-speed automated manual in the Rapide also isn't as refined as the seven-speed dual-clutch in the Panamera, particularly when it comes to low-speed driving.

The differences between the two are even more dramatic inside, though. The Aston's rear chairs are seriously compromised, both getting into them and remaining comfortable once you're seated. With such a low-slung roofline and limited legroom, you really have to plan your entry. Even relatively short adults will have trouble sitting comfortably for more than an hour with the cramped leg- and headroom. Comfort is also reduced by the armrests, which feel as if they have a brick of concrete directly underneath the leather. Porsche, by comparison, has outfitted the Panamera with reasonable rear-seat space and excellent surface treatments.

Eric Tingwall

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