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First look: Aston facelifts DB9 as Rapide arrives

Shaken and stirred: Aston Martin's DB9 puts on a new suit.

First Australian Rapides arrive as Aston Martin reveals facelifted 2011 DB9 range

Aston Martin logo29 Jun 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

ASTON MARTIN has revealed its facelifted 2011 DB9 a week after first examples of its mould-breaking new four-door Rapide grand tourer arrived in Australia.

While the new-look DB9 Coupe and Volante (convertible) will be released here around the end of August, three Rapides – two dealer demonstrators and a national press vehicle – have now landed Down Under.

No firm numbers of the Rapide, which is priced at $366,280 plus on-road costs, have been allocated for Australia, but almost 30 confirmed local orders from an initial global production run of 2000 examples mean the Rapide will be virtually a sell-out success in Australia this year.

Aston Martin’s regional operations manager Marcel Fabris said the Rapide had exceeded the company’s initial expectations “for a $400,000-plus car that nobody has driven or seen except in online images”.

“We haven’t set an allocation as such – instead we’re pretty much letting the market requirement determine initial market volumes,” he said. “Once we get an idea of a running rate for this new model we’ll be in a better position to determine volumes for future years.

“We expect the take-up to be even stronger when people see it and drive it, but like all Aston Martins the Rapide will remain exclusive and we expect demand to exceed supply especially in the early stages. It truly is an amazing car both aesthetically and dynamically.”

Closely following the Rapide will be first customer deliveries of the 2011 DB9, which enters production in Britain next month and is expected to land here with a “nominal” price increase when the facelifted coupe and convertible are launched locally by September.

“Although we’ve only announced it now, the 2011 DB9 has obviously been in the planning for quite some time and people have unknowingly been ordering the cars for a while now,” said Mr Fabris. “We’re now taking orders out to November.”

44 center imageLeft: Aston Martin DB9 Cabrio. Bottom: Aston Martin DB9 Coupe.

The current DB9 is priced at $345,363 as a coupe and $373,860 as a convertible, and has played an integral role in attracting 48 Australian customers so far this year – up a significant 37 per cent on the 35 vehicles it sold in the first five months of 2009.

Most recently, however, it is the entry-level V8 Vantage coupe ($250,358) and roadster ($274,784) that have attracted most local interest, while the V12-engined DBS coupe ($477,679) and convertible ($506,177) continue to top the Aston model line-up.

The Gaydon, Warwickshire-based sportscar-maker says the V8 Vantage has now joined the DB9 – the first model to emerge from the company’s new lightweight bonded aluminium ‘VH’ chassis architecture – in surpassing the DB7 to become the equal most successful Aston Martin model of all time.

Since its launch in 2003, Aston Martin has delivered 12,500 DB9s to customers in 34 countries. Current DB9 production volume is around 1500 cars a year.

For 2011, Aston says the DB9’s position as “the world’s finest sports grand tourer” will be affirmed by a range of styling, engineering and equipment enhancements.

The latter is led by the standardisation of Aston Martin’s new two-stage Adaptive Damping System across the DB9 Coupe and Volante range, which is said to offer enhanced ride comfort and sharper handling when switched to Sport mode, compared with the passive variable damping system it replaces.

Also new to the DB9 is a tyre-pressure monitoring system, revised Bluetooth microphone system, new ‘Double Apex’ alloy-look trim and new Bang & Olufsen hi-fi audio options.

Externally, cosmetic changes include a new front bumper with ‘bright-finish’ grille and reprofiled lower air-intake featuring bright hexagonal mesh, plus new headlight bezels, restyled side sills with a more prominent ‘hockey stick’ accent ahead of the rear wheels, silver brake callipers, 20-spoke diamond-turned alloy wheels and clear tail-light lenses.

There are no mechanical changes to the car’s 350kW/600Nm 5.9-litre V12 or six-speed manual and ‘Touchtronic 2’ automatic transmissions, which together continue to propel the two-door DB9 2+2 to 100km/h in a about 4.6 seconds.

“The DB9 is the quintessential sporting grand tourer and offers an unrivalled combination of driver involvement, character, luxury and refinement,” said Aston Martin chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez.

“This car combines our unique Aston Martin character with an uncompromised design philosophy, craftsmanship and trademark Aston Martin performance ability.”

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