Set to celebrate its hundredth birthday this year, Aston Martin decided an evolutionary statement was in order. So what does one of the world's most iconic performance houses bring to the party to celebrate the start of year 101? How about the brilliant 4-door Rapide, powered by a 6.0 liter V12, with hydrogen option? Then, how about entering it in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring and call it the Hyrbrid Hydrogen Rapide S?
Not only is Aston Martin set to release the hydrogen saloon upon the world, but it wants to do so in an environment conducive to fast goings on. What better place to put a hydrogen powered luxo-sedan through its paces than the ADAC Zurich 24 Hours at Nürburgring in Germany? Introduced to the world in 2006, the Rapide has, for the past 7 years, maintained its place as one of the world’s most beautifully designed saloons.
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Aston Martin will be the first manufacturer to race using a hydrogen power station, producing zero CO2 emissions. But this is not be a hydrogen-only affair, though the car will run one full lap on hydrogen to prove that it can. However, working in partnership with hydrogen authorities from Alset Global, Aston Martin's engineers developed a prototype twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 engine to power the Rapide S. There go the zero emissions.
The Rapide S hybrid is programmed to run on gasoline, hydrogen, or a mix of both. The purpose of this exercise, according to Aston Martin, is to showcase the manufacturer’s commitment to engineering innovation. So, in running in pure H2 mode for that single lap, the Rapide S will leave nothing on Nordschleife but a bit of British derived Perrier.
The Rapide S hydrogen system is comprised of a hydrogen fuel rail that feeds the V12 its hydrogen gas diet. Four storage tanks provide fuel, overseen by a proprietary engine management system. According to Aston Martin, this configuration allows flexibility in tailoring combustion to particular situations. Whether the car is running pure hydrogen, gasoline or a blend of both, the power management system can be set to optimize power, acceleration and efficiency.
Safety is top of priority the list for Aston Martin. No propane-style storage tanks for the Rapide S. Only the finest ultra-high strength carbon fiber tanks will do. The four hydrogen tanks, two next to the driver and two in the trunk, store a total of 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) of hydrogen at a pressure of 350 bar (5076 psi).
Stylistically, not much has changed here. The car is still as gorgeous as ever, but now with an oversized Hybrid Hydrogen sticker on the windshield, and a big honking James Bond ‘007’ on the doors.
Let's not forget that the Rapide S is motivated by one seriously quick AM11 6.0-liter V12 power plant. Aston claims the new Rapide S, with 558 hp and 457 lb.ft of torque, is capable of hitting 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in only 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph (306 km/h) without breaking a sweat.
Aston Martin returns to compete in the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours on May 19 and 20, where the Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S will make its debut appearance. The new Rapide S (non-hydrogen) will arrive in Aston Martin showrooms next month. The hydrogen version has no set release date.
Motor Authority reports that Aston Martin may also reveal two speedsters based on the V-12 Vantage, inspired by the DBR1 that won Le Mans.