New & Used Aston Martin Rapide: In Depth
2015 Aston Martin Rapide SEnlarge Photo
The Rapide is a high-performance four-door, four-seater that translates Aston Martin's styling and ideals to a sedan body in an uncommon way. The luxuriously appointed Rapide competes with models like the Porsche Panamera, Maserati Quattroporte, and BMW M6 Gran Coupe.
The biggest changes to the Rapide's specification came very recently, with the addition of a new Rapide S model. Beginning with the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S, the standard Rapide spec is no more--replaced by a version with more power and a new face, among other differences.
Introduced in late 2009 with first deliveries in 2010, the Aston Martin Rapide was initially produced under contract by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, but as of 2012, has moved production back to the brand's home base in Gaydon, England. Wherever it's built, however, the Rapide exudes a style only Aston Martin offers, and performance rarely found in an ultra-luxury sedan.
The standard Rapide initially came with a 6.0-liter V-12 engine rated at 470 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque driving the rear wheels. Zero-to-60-mph acceleration for models so equipped was more than brisk, at just over five seconds, and the 188-mph top speed was terrifyingly fast. The Rapide handles as much like a sports car as it looks. But despite this able performance, the Rapide is about much more than sport.
Aston's exterior design suits the large Rapide very well, wrapping the four-door in stunning curves and tasteful details. The car made the transition from concept to production with surprisingly few styling changes. Indeed, the roadgoing version itself looks like a concept car to this day.
Inside, it's more of the same: simply gorgeous. As is usually the case with coupe-like sedans, the Rapide takes a usability hit as a result of its design. The swoopy roof cuts into rear headroom, and the stubby rear doors combine with the steep C-pillar to make entry and exit from the rear bucket seats surprisingly difficult for a sedan. That said, most owners won't mind making those sacrifices for style, especially since they're more likely to sit up front anyway.
The 2014 Rapide S, which we drove early in 2013, boosted output from the 6.0-liter V-12 engine to 550 horsepower, making it Aston Martin's most powerful four-door ever. The result was a reduction in 0–60 mph time to 4.7 seconds and an increased top speed of 190 mph. Visually, the Rapide S is differentiated with a large grille that drops the horizontal cross-bar for a more open-mouthed look; aerodynamic enhancements to the front splitter and integrated rear deck-lid spoiler; and other subtle details. Inside, the Rapide S's optional Duotone perforated red-and-black leather is a first for Aston Martin; other elements are largely untouched from the original Rapide.
As with any Aston Martin, colors, materials, and features are highly customizable, with the only limiting factors being your imagination and your budget--not that Rapide buyers are likely to have many limitations in either regard.
Aston continues to upgrade the Rapide S for 2015. Changes include a new eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, which puts it in good company of many other luxury sedans that use the same transmission. The engine has also been tweaked through software updates, letting it put out an extra 18 hp, for a total of 568. The Pirelli tires have also been reengineered for improved ride quality, supposedly without losing any grip. The wheels are lighter and the tires have lower rolling resistance, which when combined with the new transmission and its long top gears affords a boost to fuel economy: a 1-mpg improvement in the city and an increase of 3 mpg on the highway, for ratings of 14 mpg city and 22 highway. Not amazing, but pretty good for a twelve-cylinder super-sedan with a 0–60 time of 4.2 seconds.
While the Rapide has been well liked, it may not get renewed after this single first generation. Aston has plans to offer a low crossover vehicle as well as a new, global version of its Lagonda super-sedan, and the two models would indirectly replace the Rapide in the process. If that's true, we'll be sad to see it go.