by John Tallodi
The Rapide S is Aston Martin's first four-door sports car and while it may not offer cutting-edge mechanical and technological features anymore, the stunning looks and beguiling V12 engine make for a very desirable package. Updates to the infotainment system and some additional standard features have been introduced for the 2017 model year.
The Rapide's interior would not look out of place in the latest Blade Runner and the level of craftsmanship and quality of materials is superb. This focus on design and style does lead to some compromises when it comes to the amount of space that is available for passengers, especially in the rear. The sculpted rear glass and angled doors make getting into the rear pair of seats a trick best performed by seasoned yoga professionals. Leg and headroom are severely restricted too but such is the price of beauty. The trunk at least offers enough space for a couple of bags and the available split-folding rear seat option is recommended.
For such a large sedan the Rapide offers sharp responses and is quite capable of tackling challenging roads with ease. The engine requires some revs to give its best but this is no hardship as the exhaust note fills the cabin and the gearshifts are quick and lag free. The ride can be overly firm when in its sportiest setting and remains taut and a little unyielding even in comfort mode. Over smooth road surfaces however, it cruises along in silence and the Rapide S is a capable grand tourer despite its dynamic abilities.
The Rapide S received a mid-life update to its internals a few years ago and it this updated 6.0-liter 560 horsepower V12 that still powers it in its current configuration. Torque output is rated at 465 lb-ft and an 8-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard.The 0-60 mph time is a claimed 4.2-seconds which trails a number of newer competitors and when it comes to cold hard figures the Rapide S is left chasing cars like the Panamera Turbo and Mercedes CLS AMG. The driving experience is quite something else though, and unless you regularly plan on lining up next to these mega-horsepower competitors at the lights, the Rapide's lag-free naturally aspirated V12 and intoxicating soundtrack will rarely have you yearning for more power.Few owners will be to fussed about the fuel consumption figures but for the record, the Rapide offers a claimed combined 17 mpg in city/highway driving.
There is one basic trim level for the Rapide S, although calling it basic is not quite accurate as the list of standard features would embarrass most other luxury sedans. Notable standard features include a 6.5-inch LCD screen with satellite navigation, smartphone and Bluetooth integration, premium leather interior, heated seats with power function for the front pair, cruise control, surround park sensors, LED ambient lighting, 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive damping and a limited-slip differential.A number of packages are available, the Performance Pack offers a sports exhaust, 3-stage adaptive dampers, black tailpipes and a power increase to 573hp while the Entertainment System Pack offers rear screens a remote control and wireless headphones. When it comes to personalization the Rapide S offers a wealth of options, saddle leather floor mats, luggage sets, carbon fiber trim, seat embroidery, personalized sill plaques and quilted seats and door inserts are all on offer.
The Aston Martin Rapide S may not measure up to the latest opposition in purely mathematical terms, but at this rarefied level, looks, style and personalized opulence play a big role in buyers' decision-making processes.When that is taken into consideration, the Rapide S' beautiful styling both inside and out as well as its sumptuous cabin puts it ahead of most of its competition.