Road test: Aston Martin Rapide S


Road test: Aston Martin Rapide S

What is it?

Meet Aston Martin's slightly awkward-looking four-door saloon, but now with added adrenaline. Not that the standard car really needed an additional dose of go-go juice, but that's never stopped the Gaydon massive from administering aid before. As part of a mid-life refresh the S gets more power and even more refinement. The Rapide is the choice for the family gent, as it's the only model in the maker's range that comes with two rear seats.

What's under the bonnet?

An almighty lump, that's what. The ageing 6.0-litre V12 is still in situ – a last hurrah before AMG work their black magic under the hoods of Britain's finest – but for now it gets even more grunt. Power is up 80bhp to 550bhp and this helps the 60mph dash time tumble under that all-important five second barrier, but only by a tenth of a second. Top speed is a heady 190mph and with those sorts of figures fuel economy and emissions suffer. The former is a rather woeful 19.9mpg and CO2 is puffed out at a rate of 332g/km. Still, once you hear the noise that glorious V12 makes you won't care about the wallet-crushing fuel depletion.

What's the spec like?

In a word: glorious. The leather is soft, the carpets thick and the wood burnished. Several cows were sacrificed to coat most surfaces inside (and I'm afraid their deaths were worth it) and the instruments are as beautiful as one of the finest Swiss watches. Standard kit includes Bluetooth, sat nav, front and rear parking sensors (believe me you need them, this thing is Ark Royal long), tracking device and a stunning 1000W Bang & Olufsen stereo. Some of the controls take some getting used to, though – the buttons in the centre console are small and a little fiddly. Those rear seats have the option of TV screens (£2,495) and you can go pretty mad on the other options, too. Even the paint of our test car was an additional £3,495 – but it's worth it for the name alone: Skyfall Silver. Cool.

Any rivals?

A few. The biggest (in many senses of the word) is the Porsche Panamera. An ugly car from some angles, stunning from others, it's a super-sized sports car that's superb to drive, especially in GTS form. The new Mercedes S-Class will be a potent rival too as will Audi's luxurious A8. Even BMW's 7 Series will get a sniff in this category, where price matters far less than the badge that's on the bonnet.

Aston Martin Rapide S

Aston Martin Rapide S

What's it like to drive?

Well, it's not the most dynamic of Aston Martin's range, that's for sure, but then did you really expect it to be? No, this is a GT car to transport you and the family to the Polo/Henley/Alps with ease. It's relaxed and sedate when you want it to be, but can still pick up its skirt and get going when you put your foot down. As the revs rise the butterflies in the exhaust containing the cacophony of noise open, releasing a guttural V12 groan. My only complaint is it takes too long to start grumbling – I want to hear that rumble every time I put my foot down. The rear seats are comfy too, even for adults, but that said, headroom can be a little cramped.

The AOL Cars Verdict

The Aston Martin Rapide S is a stunning way to travel. It's luxurious, looks sharp and is caked in cool. You can't drive an Aston anywhere without getting nods of appreciation and that very rarely happens in ostentatious equivalents from the likes of Ferrari or Lamborghini. There's a certain respect for Aston Martin, and I like that. The Rapide S is a big car – and it feels it on the road – and that engine really is starting to feel dated in terms of economy, but the power is impressive and if you need those extra rear seats it's worth considering... that is, of course, if you've got the cash in the first place!

The knowledge

Model: Aston Martin Rapide S
Price: £165,580 (as tested)
Engine: 6.0-litre, V12, petrol
Power: 550bhp 620NM
Max speed: 190mph
0-62mph: 4.9 seconds
MPG: 19.9mpg (combined)
Emissions: 332g/km CO2