by Jay Traugott
The Rapide was introduced in 2010 as Aston Martin entered the highly competitive four-door luxury sedan market crowded with skillful German offerings. In 2019, American and even Korean carmakers are at the top of their game, making it harder than ever for the British vanguard of luxury sports cars to compete. But Aston Martin has a trick up its sleeve in the form of the Rapide AMR. Those three letters (Aston Martin Racing) transform the sedan into a fire breathing supercar, mostly thanks to what could possibly be one of the last all-motor V12 engine setups around. The 595-horsepower powerplant propels the Rapide AMR to a top speed of 205 mph, and an uprated suspension setup makes sure it can grip hard too. The Rapide AMR will be sold in minimal numbers; only 210 of these special sedans will be sold worldwide priced at $240,000 as it goes up against the likes of the Porsche Panamera Turbo.
The Aston Martin Rapide AMR was only unveiled in June of 2018, so what you see in the brochure is what you get - an all-new limited edition variant for 2019. The production model follows closely what the concept promised, including aerodynamic upgrades of carbon fiber, three exterior design themes, and bespoke interior elements including a One-77 steering wheel and Alcantara-trimmed seats. Power is up, too, by 43 hp, but the AMR fails to live up to Aston Martin's promise of a 210 mph top speed, instead it gets up to 205 mph.
The exterior of the Rapide AMR has been turned up to eleven and transforms the standard Rapide from a sleek and curvaceous luxury sedan into something that looks more at home on Laguna Seca than the Hollywood hills. The gaping, and somewhat aggressive front grill is carried over from the concept car, as are the round fog lights that hark back to the Vanquish Zagato. The bulbous hood now sports massive cooling vents to help chill that monstrous V12 lurking beneath and is made from carbon fiber to help keep weight off of the front wheels. The Rapide's racing intentions are further accentuated by an all-carbon-fiber front splitter, trunk lip spoiler, and a touring car-style rear diffuser. Aston Martin has blessed the Rapide AMR with a set of 21-inch alloy wheels, the largest on an Aston Martin yet. As if all the carbon fiber and air vents aren't enough to convince you that the Rapide AMR means business, racing stripes run right down the middle of the car, and the colors are customizable of course. Three exterior themes offset the upgrades, including the Signature theme's Stirling Green with lime stripes, while the two remaining themes, Standard and Silhouette, are more sedated in their styling.
The four-door Rapide AMR is a sizeable car and is comparable to the Dodge Challenger Hellcat in terms of length and width, and despite the addition of the go-faster stripes and air vents, there is no hiding the fact that the Rapide has a classic four-door sedan shape that looks more GT than pure sports car. The Rapide AMR slots comfortably within the luxury sedan class in terms of its dimensions. The Rapide AMR rides on a 117.7-inch wheelbase; it's 197.6 inches long, 75.9 inches wide and stands 53.5 inches tall. Extensive use of carbon fiber inside and out, most notably for the hood, has helped to reduce the Rapide's curb weight down to 4,387 pounds. That's 61 pounds lighter than the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, and a significant 243 pounds less than the Porsche Panamera Turbo.
The color options on the 2019 Aston Martin Rapide AMR are divided by model trims. Aston Martin has decided not to go with contemporary body colors; instead, it's stuck with a range of classic hues that remind one of the heydays of British motorsport. According to the British automaker, the AMR in Standard and Silhouette trim can be had in Scintilla Silver, Mariana Blue, Onyx Black, and Lighting Silver. Each model also gets its own unique colored racing stripe. The Standard gets lime-colored accents while the Silhouette receives the option of Clubsport White or China Gray. The top of the line Signature model gets an exclusive Stirling Green exterior paint job accompanied by lime accents. Let's be honest, if you're looking for a performance edition Aston Martin, you only really have two color options: dark green or silver.
The Rapide AMR's bite matches its bark: Aston Martin had paid more than lip service when developing the AMR Rapide, and this car now holds the official title of the most potent Aston Martin sedan ever made. Almost every aspect of the standard Rapide has been touched on to improve performance, with power gains of 43 hp that push the 6.0-liter V12's figures to 595 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph is a feat that takes just 4.2 seconds, while the top speed is a manic 205 mph - five less than what Aston was hoping for, but with the addition of new aero keeping things glued to the tarmac, its an acceptable concession. Some sedans are quicker, such as the homegrown Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, but only the Porsche Panamera Turbo is capable of matching the AMR's dynamics when roads get twisty.
Arguably the most exciting aspect of the Rapide AMR is what lies beneath the carbon fiber hood. Aston Martin's much loved, naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V12 provides a sonorous soundtrack, and does an astounding job of moving the Rapide AMR around, especially in the mid to high rev range, where the motoring heavens open up, and a feeling of transcendence creeps in. That V12 engine produces 595 hp and 465 lb-ft thanks to a larger inlet manifold with enhanced airflow.
The benefit of a big naturally aspirated V12 is the fact that it delivers its power in a very linear curve, unlike the majority of turbocharged engines in this class, who spill their guts in the midrange and run out of breath at the top end. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via a ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic transmission that has been tweaked to deliver faster shifts, and can apparently go from one gear to the other in only 139 milliseconds, but in reality, it doesn't feel any faster than a regular ZF transmission.
The standard Rapide was already an impressive handling car, lauded for its natural steering feel and excellent suspension damping. The AMR version takes things up a level or two thanks to an extensive revision of the suspension setup that sees the ride height drop by 0.4 inches. The standard Rapide S' three-stage damper system is still in place but has been tweaked to deliver superior dynamics and response. The updated suspension setup, matched with a grippy set of Michelin Super Sport summer tires, equates to a large luxury sedan that can move like a much smaller coupe.
There's no denying the fact that the Rapide isn't the lightest car, but a neutral shifting of weight through the corners hides that fact surprisingly well. The 21-inch wheels can feel a bit crashy at low speeds, especially with all the suspension settings turned up to ultra-stiff, but at speed, the Rapide AMR is still a beautifully composed car. Another advantage the AMR version holds over the standard Rapide is a set of large carbon-ceramic brakes. The front disks measure 15.7-inches up front and are mated to six-piston calipers, while the rear gets 14.1-inch discs with four-piston calipers, another size record for an Aston Martin sedan.
Despite the fact that the Rapide AMR is powered by a rather hefty naturally aspirated V12, it manages to return respectable gas mileage numbers. If the right foot behaves, which is near on impossible with that tremendous sounding engine, the Rapide AMR will return numbers of 15/30/22 mpg city/highway/combined. The Porsche Panamera Turbo with its twin-turbocharged V8 producing 550 hp and weighing in at 4,630 pounds will achieve 18/25/21 mpg. The gas tank will hold 23.9 gallons of fuel, giving the Rapide AMR an estimated range of 525.8 miles. That makes the AMR a very capable cross country bomber, provided you can remove the lead from your right boot.
The interior of the Rapide AMR sticks to the original concept's script and feels decidedly more sport-focused when compared to a Rapide S. The gorgeous center console is a long and flowing piece made from carbon fiber, and it sets the tone for the rest of the interior. That center console houses all the essential knobs and buttons, which are clearly laid out, and the only real criticism would be the 1990's Ford-looking air vents that don't seem to match the flow of the rest of the interior. Gone are the standard seats; in its place, you'll find proper buckets with an integrated headrest which automatically spells 'race car', especially now that it features the AMR logo. For the true connoisseurs, Aston Martin has given new owners the option of a One-77 style steering wheel which just adds that extra touch of exclusiveness to an already impressive package. The AMR logo has been scattered around the interior, just to remind you that this car is something special.
The four-seater Rapide AMR might look like a large car from the outside, but once you step inside, it's a different story altogether. The front doors have a wide opening and make it easy for large adults to enter and exit. The rear doors, however, have a much smaller opening, making it slightly awkward for larger passengers to get in and out. Front passengers have adequate legroom, but things get tight in the rear, really tight. Rear passengers will also notice that the slanting roofline cuts off headroom. This stands in stark contrast with the Porsche Panamera, who's stubby rear gives it exceptional headroom and more interior space overall.
The Rapide AMR not only looks distinctly more performance orientated from the outside, but that theme continues to the interior, which now boasts some premium model-specific trimmings. The seats, for instance, are wrapped in sumptuous Alcantara with lime or silver contrast stitching, matching the exterior appearance. The generous use of real carbon fiber is appreciated and not overdone. Soft-touch plastics feel solid, as do the knobs and buttons on the dashboard. It is worth mentioning that some of the buttons in the Rapide AMR are touch-sensitive. The overall feel of the interior is upmarket, but German competitors do it better, and for almost half of the price.
When you look at the numbers, the Rapide AMR should offer similar trunk space to that of a family hatchback, measuring in at 11.1 cubic feet, however, once you open the trunk lid, you're presented with a different story altogether. The cargo space is not only shallow, but it's stepped, which breaks up the practical, usable space. The Porsche Panamera Turbo, on the other hand, provides ample space in the back: you get 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space, which grows to 52.6 cubic feet when the seats are folded down, an unheard-of amount of space in this class.
Personal item storage space is limited, especially in the back, where passengers don't get anything, save for a single cupholder. Front passengers get a set of cupholders and a good-sized glove compartment and center storage space.
At this price point, you would expect the Aston Martin Rapide AMR to be jam-packed with features, just like its German counterparts, but unfortunately, Aston Martin has disregarded industry standards it would seem. The scant list of features include automatic climate control, keyless access, and start/stop, cruise control, parking sensors with parking assist and anti-glare mirrors. The Rapide AMR's seats are power-adjustable and heated, and it gets Full LED lighting all around. A nice touch is the head-up display which makes it easier for the driver to take in important info while driving, especially on track or a fastback road. A rearview camera is a present necessity given the limited rearward visibility.
The infotainment system on the Aston Martin Rapide AMR is a sore point that drags down an otherwise classy interior and for that matter the car as a whole. Despite the fact that the Rapide AMR is considered a performance model with a focus on driving performance, the truth is that this car will spend most of its time on public roads, transporting people from A to B; hence it needs a decent infotainment system. What you get instead is a small 6.5-inch LCD screen tucked away in the dashboard, so far from the driver that you have to squint to read navigation instructions. The system is controlled by a centrally mounted knob which should work like Audi's great MMI infotainment navigation tool but doesn't. You get Bluetooth, USB, aux connectivity, and MP3 playback, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system will read CD and DVD formats, is compatible with your iPod and has voice command and steering wheel-mounted controls for ease of use. A Bang & Olufsen premium sound system delivers the tunes, but you really want to be listening to that glorious V12 instead.
The Aston Martin Rapide AMR has not been affected by any model-specific recalls, but the standard Rapide has been recalled twice since 2015. The first recall took place on 16 December 2015 after it was discovered that the locking mechanism could malfunction and cause occupants not to be able to exit the car from the inside, even when the vehicle was unlocked. The second recall took place on 12 November 2017 and was due to a faulty automatic transmission control module which affected the functionality of Aston Martin's Touchtronic autos. Aston Martin offers a standard warranty of three-years and unlimited mileage, as well as the option of an extended warranty option that ranges between 12 and 24 months and includes Aston Martin Emergency Roadside Assistance with coverage throughout the USA and Canada.
The IIHS and NHTSA tend to avoid crash-testing cars that are worth close to a quarter of a million dollars, so, unfortunately, there are no crash test ratings available in the US. The Rapide likewise has no European NCAP safety rating score, which is quite distressing since this is a performance car that can reach speeds in excess of 200 mph. Its German competitor the Porsche Panamera Turbo also has not been tested.
If the Rapide AMR is ever to be tested, Aston Martin should be slightly worried, as the standard safety feature list on this 200+ mph car is short, to put it nicely. What you get is standard ABS brakes, stability control and a slew of airbags that number six in total. Reverse parking assistance and LED headlights are slight redeeming factors here, but you can find those on $20,000 Japanese entry-level models. The equally priced four dour Mercedes-Benz AMG S65 comes standard with blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assistance and even night vision, which makes the $7,500 dearer Aston Martin look archaic.
The 2019 Aston Martin Rapide AMR is a flawed car in many aspects, but at the end of the day is more than the sum of its parts. From the outside it is undeniable that the Rapide AMR is a handsome machine; the standard Rapide was already one of the best-looking luxury sedans on the market, but the more aggressive styling does the car justice. The interior of the AMR looks good and features premium materials, but the fit and finish aren't as good as its competitors, the same goes for the infotainment system, which is woefully outclassed by the competition. Where the Rapide AMR shines is on the road, and in mind. An all-motor V12 in a green British performance sedan? Say no more. The Rapide clings on to a memory of performance motoring that is quickly falling out of favor with automakers and consumers alike. The Rapide AMR is more than the sum of its parts; it is the romantic swansong of a rich heritage of British motoring that is being replaced by the calm and calculated efficiency of the electric revolution.
The limited-edition Rapide AMR is priced above most of its competitors and will cost you an eye-watering MSRP of $240,000 excluding taxes, title, options, delivery and registration fees. The Mercedes-Benz AMG S65 comes in with an MSRP of $232,550, and the fantastic Porsche Panamera Turbo which offers similar performance and luxury will only cost you only $161,900, almost $80,000 less than you'd pay for the Rapide AMR.
The 2019 Rapide AMR technically only has one model, but there are three distinctive design schemes, Standard, Silhouette, and Signature designs with distinct color and appearance differences between them. Both the former trims are offered in Scintilla Silver, Mariana Blue, Lightning Silver, and Onyx Black, while the Signature design boasts Stirling Green with lime stripes. The Standard scheme adds Lime colored accents to the sills, diffuser and front lip. The Silhouette scheme sees the lime accents replaced by a choice of either China Gray or Clubsport White. Specification remains the same for all three, however, with keyless entry, climate control, sports seats, a 6.5-inch infotainment system, Bang & Olufsen sound system, and One-77 steering wheel all standard.
6.0-liter Turbo V12 Gas
Aston Martin's Q division is known for its flexibility when it comes to optioning out brand new cars precisely the way its wealthy clientele want them. This goes for the Rapide AMR as well. The interior of the AMR can be customized with unique gear knobs, wood veneer fascias, and six-piece luggage sets starting from $2,785. Exterior options include carbon-fiber rear lamps and mirror caps. You can even have the center caps of your wheels in carbon fiber for $450, or what about gold wing badges for a thousand bucks?
There's only one Rapide AMR you can buy, and in the same breath, there are only 210 of them globally available, so you'll have to make up your mind rather quick before they disappear into the garage of the other rich and famous. For the princely sum of $240,000 you'll get to drive away in a small piece of motoring history and heritage; an all motor V12 sedan wearing those hallowed wings on the hood that can go over 200 mph in comfort and style.
The Panamera has been around since 2010 and has cemented itself as a class-leading four-door luxury vehicle that balances comfort and performance in a practical everyday package. The 2019 Turbo packs a serious punch thanks to a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that pushes out 550 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque and launches it to sixty in only 3.6 seconds. The Panamera has better interior space, the build quality is of a higher specification, and the standard infotainment and safety features are superior to that found in the Aston Martin. The Panamera has more cargo space as well. The only thing the Panamera doesn't have on the Aston Martin Rapide AMR is exclusivity and that glorious V12. The Porsche is priced at $161,900, nearly $80,000 less than the Brit which begs the question, how much is exclusivity really worth?
The Maserati Quattroporte GTS GrandSport is another exotic luxury sedan that we don't see on our roads very often, but when we do, we know its something special. The Quattroporte is powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 which produces 523 hp and 524 lb-ft of torque and will accelerate to sixty in around 4.2 seconds. The Maserati is a heavy drinker and will return 17 mpg on a combined cycle, if you're lucky, even though it is the lighter and less powerful car. The Maserati comes equipped with a more significant range of electronic features, including safety equipment. The Quattroporte is priced at $137,980, which is just over $100,000 cheaper than the Aston Martin. A no brainer for some.