2016 Aston Martin Rapide S Review

The Aston Martin Rapide has been on sale since
2010, and it’s fair to say the four-door sports car hasn’t been the success the company
had hoped for. The British manufacturer had originally hoped
to build more than 2000 examples of the Rapide each year. But with sales of just more than 1200 units
annually by 2012, the company has now relocated production of its slinky sedan from its dedicated
production facility in Austria, to Aston Martin’s home in Gaydon. And while the fundamentals of the Rapide haven’t
changed significantly in that time, Aston hopes that new equipment and extra performance
for the Rapide S will be sufficient to renew interest in the aging model. The Rapide name draws its inspiration from
the squared-off Lagonda Rapide sedan of the late 1970s. Its chassis is an extension of the same one
that underpins the DB9, while the long-serving *six-litre V12 engine gets a mild makeover,
adding slightly more power and torque. The Rapide S also scores a new eight-speed
automatic transmission and a revised final drive ratio, dropping its *0-100km/h time
by almost half a second, and increasing top speed to in excess of 320km/h. The changes made to the Rapide help it respond
and perform like it always should have. The stiffer rear suspensions and re-tuned
steering improve turn-in, the bigger brakes help it stop better, and the eight-speed auto
is remarkably sharp, changing gears just 130 milliseconds. We love the
Vanquish-inspired grille, the lightweight alloy wheels and the new centre stack interface. The headlining and upholstery material is
stunning, as is the quality of the Quantum Silver paint, but the faulty driver’s power
window, ill-fitting passenger-side carpet, worn door seal and inactive cruise control
in our 1500km-old test model were somewhat disappointing. On the plus side, there are more options to
choose from than ever and the *Bang & Olufsen Beosound 16-speaker audio system a definite
highlight. Aston Martin allows customisation of just
about every facet of the Rapide S, even matching leather and paint colours to just about any
sample you care to provide. Stick to the script, and the Rapide S will
set you back a cool 382,000 dollars. Of course the Aston Martin Rapide isn’t
perfect. It might look better than the Porsche Panamera,
but its rear-seat is compromised by a tight door opening and cosy head and legroom dimensions. It also doesn’t offer many of the driver
safety technologies offered elsewhere. Items like radar cruise control, blind-spot
monitoring and keyless entry are obvious omissions considering the price. But as a hard-charging grand tourer with the
soul of a sports car and the character to match, the Rapide S does push all the right
buttons. In spite of its weight, it’s a keen handler
and the performance on offer is scintillating to say the least. Whether or not it’s worth the asking price,
however, is entirely up to you.