A lesson in balanced, immaculate design, the new Aston Martin Rapide sportscar is a sleek, four-door wonder. To match the tone of the gem-like sedan, Aston Martin chose Valencia-based jewelery atelier Trinidad Gracia as its launch site, locking away the keys to the first test drives in the boutique’s vault.
Aston Martin design director Marek Reichman, involved in every aspect of the car’s design, distributed the keys for the first test drives of the Rapides. He explains, “I believe that the human hand and recognition of shape from hand to eye is so important. You have to experiment.”
The handmade Rapide pushes boundaries, and even the key’s design is distinct. Also called “Emotion Control Units,” the keys, made from weighty glass and stainless steel, debuted with the Aston Martin DBS. The effect lends a feel to the ECU more akin to a substantial piece of jewelry, uniquely turning the car on as soon as it’s inserted into the starter button.
The design element of the key carries through in the Rapide’s effective use of glass in the vehicle sculpture, resulting in a sinuous look that seamlessly integrates with the full-bodied stretched-aluminum windows. What it achieves in form, it does not sacrifice emotionally with the addition of extra doors. As a relatively small operation, Reichman works on all elements with both his department of 28 designers and the CEO Ulrich Bez regularly. “The thought generated in the studio is a more creative process as opposed to a factory process,” Reichman says of his team.
“The best experience is proving the design once you’re driving,” Reichman affirmed. The $201,300 handcrafted sedan zooms from 0 to 60 mph in an estimated 5.1 seconds and they will make only 2,000 yearly, with about 500 Rapides destined stateside. Contact Aston Martin to order.