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Aston Martin Rapide orders build

Pre-orders for the new four-door rival to Porsche's Panamera are, says Aston's Australian rep Marcel Fabris, "very strong".

"That level of interest at this stage is very encouraging given the current economic climate and minimal publicity the vehicle has received," he says.

It's not only the Rapide that is firing up prospective buyers.

Mr Fabris confirmed that one order — with a deposit — has already been placed for the near-$3 million One-77 supercar.

But Aston is keeping details of the new owner well under its protective wraps.

The first Rapide arrives in the first quarter of 2010 with pricing between the existing DB9 and DBS models.

That means about $420,000 for the self-titled ‘World's most elegant four-door sports car’. Panamera pricing, announced in February, starts at $270,000 for the rear-drive S and $365,000 for the Panamera Turbo AWD flagship.

The Rapide is in its final development stage and Aston Martin says it is on schedule for a public debut in late 2009 and first customer deliveries in early 2010.

Aston Martin's chief executive, Dr Ulrich Bez, says the Rapide will complete the company's range of products that convey established attributes of Power, Beauty and Soul.

"In 2010 there will be an Aston Martin for every type of sports car customer regardless of the demands of their lifestyle," he says.

"The Rapide is the most versatile, bringing a new benchmark of luxury and refinement to both driver and passenger."

The Rapide was a concept in 2006 and endured the 2007 buy-out of the then Ford-owned company by a consortium that included ProDrive boss David Richards.

It was then fast-tracked to production using a family design sculpture that includes "swan wing" doors that rise upwards and outwards to improve access to the rear seats.

The Rapide is powered by a version of Aston Martin's 6-litre V12 engine producing 350kW (470bhp) and 600Nm of torque.

The engine is hand built at the company's engine facility in Cologne while the coachwork is at Magna Steyr's new production facility in Graz, Austria.