‘14 ASTON MARTIN RAPIDE S: A MORE RAPID RAPIDE!

In its centennial year, Aston Martin delivers a more potent four-door Rapide that leaves Road Test Editor Howard Walker shaken and definitely stirred!
There’ll come a time when Bond, James Bond, will need to hand back the Walther PPK, the MI6-issued Omega Seamaster and the License to Kill, get hitched, have a couple of rug-rats 
and settle down. The current 007, Daniel Craig, is 45 for goodness sake. Arthritis and AARP 
are surely just around the corner!

Of course, with matrimonial bliss will come spatial needs. It’s no good thundering around in a classic 1960s two-seater – even one with machine guns and ejector seats – when there are baby seats to fit and IKEA flat packs to carry.

Taking it as a given that Bond will always drive an Aston Martin, his new vehicle of choice can only be one model; the four-door Rapide. And, lucky for 007, there’s a refreshed version – the 2014 Rapide S – that could be dropped off for him at Q-Branch right away. Painted Skyfall Silver, naturally, like the car we’re driving.

If there was a criticism of the original Rapide, which debuted back in 2010, it was its shortage of muscle. While 470 horsepower may seem plenty potent to us mere mortals, in the rarified world of Supercars, only 500-plus ponies will do.

So for 2014, the Rapide gets the latest version of Aston’s fabled 5.9-liter V12 – first seen on the new Vanquish – with a far more robust 550 horsepower. Now when you squeeze the throttle, zero-to-60 acceleration is dispensed with in a mere 4.7 seconds, which is a full half-second faster than before. That’s more like it.

But this new $199,950 Rapide S is so much more than a V12 engine on steroids. If it could be possible, the car is now even more deliciously gorgeous to gaze at than the original. The front has been re-sculpted and re-honed with a bigger, more dramatic version of that iconic grille, while at the rear there’s a larger ducktail spoiler to improve aerodynamics. The most beautiful four-door in the world? Yep, I’d go with that.

We’ve come to the Emporda region of Southern Spain, birthplace of artist Salvador Dali and an easy 90-minute amble east of Barcelona, to put this newest Aston through its paces. Here the roads are fast, empty and boast more curves than a bowl of mama’s fusilli pasta. As before, to awaken the Aston you insert the chunk of crystal that doubles as an ignition key, into its slot on the dashboard. Press once, and prepare for the aural thrill as the big V12 erupts into life.

It must be one of the great pleasures of Rapide S ownership; to know that each time you caress the crystal, every hair on the back of your neck is going to immediately stand to attention,
your pulse suddenly quicken!

 

The Jekyll and Hyde character of the Aston is that in Drive it will cruise as serenely and
sedately as your neighbor’s Lexus. The six-speed automatic shifts gears with lazy fluidity,
the ride is magic carpet smooth, noise levels are hushed. Now punch the Sport button.
Valves in the exhaust system open wide to let the full force of those 12 cylinders exhale uninterrupted. Response from the transmission becomes light-switch immediate and
the whole car becomes alive.

And now around those Catalan curves, the Rapide corners as if running on invisible tracks. This S-model features Aston’s new three-mode Adaptive Damping System that offers the choice of Normal, Sport and Track modes. Sport offers just about the perfect blend of no-roll cornering with a ride that’s Supercar-firm, yet won’t loosen your dental work.

From behind the wheel, it’s like driving inside a Prada handbag. The hand-stitched leather is bespoke craftsmanship at its best; the metal finishes exquisite; the standard Bang & Olufsen sound system worthy of a rock star’s penthouse!

And ignore the complaints about the Rapide’s lack of rear-seat space. Yes, it’s tight back there for the long of limb. But it’s far from uncomfortable. And the main point here is that the Rapide offers seats for four while still looking like a slim, sexy, gorgeous sports car. You can’t say
that about a Porsche Panamera.

No, Mr. Bond will ease quite nicely into eventual fatherhood with a Rapide S. Perhaps ‘Q’ can design him a couple of kiddy seats?

For more information about the latest vehicles from Aston Martin, please visit http://www.astonmartin.com/
   
   
   
   

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