After too many motorway miles we peel off and begin our ascent of the mountain range where the roads, while still super smooth, are extremely twisting and challenging. I ask Rachel how she's finding it in the back seat and she says she's very comfortable; the rear is best described as "snug," but she has sufficient leg room and isn't feeling the least bit claustrophobic. Looking at the map, it's obvious that we'll be zig-zagging our way up for quite a while, so let's see how she feels after being thrown about.

Mile after mile, we thunder our way up the mountain roads and the Rapide simply devours them. It's a large car and does feel it when rock faces on either side narrow the road, but it doesn't step out of line for a second. The 6.0-liter V12 feels indestructible and the gear changes are fast and sweet, but it's the way the Rapide shrinks around its driver that really impresses. The adaptive damping ensures it doesn't wallow in even the tightest of corners and it feels more alive than any car with four doors has a right to.

We stop to change drivers, all three of us feeling absolutely fine despite the hair-raising route, and it's down to this incredible car's towering abilities. Sharper than the DB9 it's based on, it truly delivers as a driving machine. That it cossets its passengers with such high levels of comfort and refinement makes that much more special.

Apart from being supremely well-built, it's a thing of immense beauty and looks like it was designed this way in the first place, rather than as an afterthought. Aston expects to sell no more than 2,000 a year, but on the basis of my first drive, they could be in for a pleasant surprise. It was worth the wait.

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine
6.0-liter V12, dohc, 48-valve

Transmission
Six-speed Touchtronic automatic

Suspension
Fully independent, adjustable continuous damping front and rear

Brakes
Six-piston calipers with 15.3-inch ventilated rotors (f), four-piston calipers with 14.2-inch ventilated rotors (r), ABS, electronic park brake

Dimensions
Length/Width/Height (in.): 197.6 x 75.9 x 53.5
Wheelbase: 117.7 in.
Curb Weight: 4,299 lb

MSRP: $199,950

Performance
Peak Power: 470 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
0-62 mph: 5.0 sec.
Top Speed: 184 mph

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