The Aston Martin Rapide S features graceful swan doors. Sarah Tew/CNET
When you think of Aston Martin, you probably picture a voluptuous two-door coupe with James Bond sawing away at the wheel being pursued by a phalanx of would-be assassins, your mental scene’s soundtrack provided by a wailing twelve-cylinder engine. Us, too.
However, like Bond’s onscreen persona, that memorable formula is constantly evolving. First, Aston Martin stretched its well-known coupe shape, added a couple of doors, and the Rapide sedan was born. Then, in acknowledgment of legislative and environmental pressures, the luxury marque took the unusual step of re-trimming a prosaic Toyota/Scion iQ mini car, calling it the Aston Martin Cygnet overseas. That ugly duckling failed spectacularly, but the pressures for the UK firm to offer a more eco-friendly car remains, and now comes word that the British auto maker is planning an electrifying response: an 800-horsepower, battery-powered version of the aforementioned Rapide.
2014 Aston Martin Rapid S (V-12 version shown). Sarah Tew/CNET
According to Automotive News, Aston CEO Andy Palmer has confirmed company plans to launch a Rapide EV within the next two years. The industry publication quotes Palmer as noting, “If you want to keep making V-12 engines, then you’ve got to do something at the opposite end of the spectrum.”
That’s because Aston Martin’s current range of V-8 and V-12 luxury cars will have trouble meeting global emissions and fuel economy legislation unless those gas-guzzling models are offset by the introduction of much cleaner offerings. An all-electric Rapide could fit the bill.
The AN report suggests that the Rapide EV will feature all-wheel drive and target a range of 200 miles. What’s more, it won’t be Aston’s only electric model — a battery-powered version of its forthcoming DBX sports SUV is also in the cards.
When talking about the future model during Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in Monterey, California, Palmer couldn’t resist knocking the E-Rapide’s presumptive rival Tesla. “We don’t do Ludicrous because Ludicrous speed is stupid,” he said, taking a thinly veiled dig at the new Model S P85D’s high-performance drive mode.
2014 Aston Martin Rapide S
Palmer went on to say that he’d rather do hot laps at a racetrack instead of short blasts in a hyper-speed mode.
Palmer would also later take to Twitter to issue similar jabs, showing photos of his company’s cars alongside statements like, “Insane mode comes as standard — no button required!” and “Preposterous mode (beyond insane) as standard — funny no button!”
Pricing for the plug-in Rapide is reportedly likely to fall somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000, roughly overlapping the asking price of the current V-12-powered model. That’s substantially more cash than Tesla asks for the Model S P85D (which starts at $105,000 and boasts a longer range of around 250 miles). However, if Palmer’s 800-hp estimate is realized, the Silicon Valley super sedan will be down on power unless it receives further upgrades.
Somehow, we don’t think Bond will be put off by the E-Rapide’s presumptive premium pricing, especially when he can sneak up on the baddies’ lairs using whisper-quiet electric power.