SPY PICS UPDATE: ASTON RAPIDE AND DBS 'R'
PH stumbles on a pair of Aston prototypes on the way to the Nurburgring
We were on the top deck, and the Astons were on the ground floor, so although it took a while to find them, we still had a good 15 minutes to study the cars 'in captivity'. Turns out they were both pretty interesting, too.
Like us, the drivers were heading for the Nurburgring, where Aston has a technical centre adjacent to the Jaguar facility that we are visiting today. (More on that soon.) It seems the Rapide and DBS were both on the way to Germany for aerodynamic testing of undertray elements - a number of aluminium panels were stacked inside the Rapide's hatchback rear load area - and tyre development work, to be carried out on the roads outside rather than on the circuit itself.
The production shape is subtly different with all-new rear panels, although the visual effect is initially similar to the concept. The car still shares the majority of its hidden platform architecture with the DB9 too, apart from the obvious wheelbase extension and a new rear subframe to accommodate the rear seats. These seats straddle the DB9's auto-shifting rear transaxle (no manual version of the Rapide is planned), so there's a wide centre tunnel between the rear passengers.
So what of the silver DBS that was accompanying the Rapide? Super-sleuth PHer TrackDemon (a.k.a. Steve Hall, on photographic duty for our own Nurburgring Jaguar story) reckons the Nurburgring grapevine is buzzing about a project to revitalise the DBS with an 'R' type package of suspension and performance mods to give the DBS a harder edge as a driver's car. The guys on the train weren't spilling the beans, so we can't confirm that yet - but if it happens you read it here first!