The Car Connection Aston Martin Rapide Overview
The luxuriously appointed Aston Martin Rapide is a high-performance four-door, four-seater that translates the brand's styling and ideals to a sedan body in an uncommon way.
Aston's sedan handles as much like a sports car as it looks. But despite this able performance, the Rapide is about much more than sport.
MORE: Read our 2016 Aston Martin Rapide review
The Rapide competes with models such as the Porsche Panamera, Maserati Quattroporte, and BMW M6 Gran Coupe.
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.
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, production moved to the brand's home base in Gaydon, England. Regardless of where it's built, however, the Rapide exudes a style only Aston Martin offers, along with performance rarely found in an ultra-luxury sedan.
The standard Rapide initially came with a 5.9-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 shockingly fast.
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 gave way to the a version with more power and a new face, among other differences.
The 2014 Rapide S, which we drove early in 2013, boosted output from the 5.9-liter V-12 engine to 550 hp, 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 was differentiated with a large grille that dropped 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 was a first for Aston Martin; other elements were 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 continued to upgrade the Rapide S for 2015. Changes included a new 8-speed automatic transmission from ZF, which puts it in good company of many other luxury sedans that use the same transmission. Together with software updates to the engine, the 2015 Rapide S was capable of a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 203 mph. The Pirelli tires were also re-engineered for improved ride quality and lower rolling resistance, supposedly without losing any grip. The wheels were made lighter as well. All told, these changes resulted in a boost in 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 12-cylinder super-sedan.
For 2016, the Rapide S gets the brand's AMi II infotainment system, which includes such features as real-time visual read-outs of engine bhp and torque.
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 could indirectly replace the Rapide in the process. If that's true, we'll be sad to see it go.