£151,869 Price range
Four door saloons do not come any more stylish than this. The Aston Martin Rapide S is the first four-door car from Aston Martin since the 1970s and the critics think it’s a truly brilliant car.
It looks beautiful, seats four in luxury, crosses continents with aplomb and dispatches your favourite B-road blast with genuine driver involvement, backed up by one of the great motoring soundtracks.
Some suggest that this is the most refined and useful Aston Martin ever made. There is, however, stiff competition in this sector from the likes of Porsche and Maserati, so how does the Aston fare against such accomplished rivals?
Most popular: V12 552 Touchtronic III Standard
The Rapide’s interior is beautifully designed and will leave the driver feeling cosseted and special. There are acres of leather and the driving position is excellent. A common criticism is that although the speedo and rev-counter dials look pretty they are criticised for being difficult to read.
It could be considered an issue that the Rapide S is marketed as a full four-seater. In reality, calling it such is a little bit of a stretch, which is something that you won’t really able to do once you settle into one of the rear seats.
It’s OK once you’re in there (although if you’re reasonably tall, you’ll start to feel a bit cramped after an hour or so), but getting in and out is tricky thanks to the small door openings. So much so, apparently, that Aston Martin even tells you how to do it. One reviewer said “think of it more as a sports car with rear doors and a hatch, rather than a limousine.”
The Rapide rides much better than any other Aston Martin, and some think that the steering is the best of the range too. Most comment on how communicative it feels, and the simple engineering allows good driver feedback and a sense of being involved – everything needed to give you confidence driving it fast down a country road.
The Rapide S features electronically controlled dampers, which allow the driver to select from three different modes. The settings range from ‘Standard’ – the most comfortable, and the one that will see the most use – to ‘Track’ – much firmer, and perfect for showing off your Rapide’s handling ability to three friends simultaneously.
The extra size hasn’t diminished the car’s poise or sporting credentials either, with most forgetting how long it is when they are behind the wheel. Many testers find it difficult to believe that such a heavy car can still be so agile, too.
The big 6.0-litre V12 petrol engine produces 552hp and 465lb ft of torque. Thanks to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the Rapide S is one of the few four door cars that can crack 200mph, with 3mph still to spare.
In fact, the only way to go faster with four doors is with the Dodge Charger Hellcat. That just edges it out with a top speed of 204mph, but it’s fair to say that it isn’t quite as classy as the Aston.
It’s not just about the figures, though; overtaking is extremely easy and rarely requires changing down a gear. This makes the Rapide a crushingly effective long distance touring car, which is effortless to drive. The engine provides a “stirring soundtrack” and “howls” through the rev range as you change up and down the gearbox using the wheel-mounted paddles.
The Rapide S is, we’ll admit, pretty pricey. More expensive than rivals like the Porsche Panamera and the Maserati Quattroporte, for example. You’ll do the maths, and the calculator will probably suggest you buy something else – but you’ll probably end up making a bee-line for the nearest Aston dealership anyway, because the Rapide S a beaut of a car.
You can only buy the Rapide S with one engine, one gearbox and only the rear wheels are driven. This doesn’t matter because Aston’s engineers are amongst the most thorough and competent in the world – and they’ve done a fine job of joining it all together. Naturally you can customise it with a huge range of paint colours and interior trims.
One tester said that it was the absence of niggles that impressed him most and all agree that the Rapide is the most accomplished and polished Aston of them all.
The Porsche Panamera is the ‘sensible’ choice in this segment; it is, after all, more spacious inside and quite a lot less expensive. But the Aston Martin Rapide S is the one that the enthusiast buys with his or her heart.