Aston Martin Rapide S Review
Aston Martin Rapide S Review
My particular car/spy reference for this, the Aston Martin Rapide S, is perhaps a little more tenuous than the more usual James Bond one, but seeing as Mr Bond has never actually been issued with a 4 seater Aston Martin from Q –Branch we’ll just have to give him a little well earned leave. My link although a tad tenuous is more far more relevant to my time spent driving the Aston Martin Rapide S too. Well, I think so at least – bear with me.
It was Patrick McGoohan – the man who went on to play The Prisoner – when recalling his role as John Drake in the 1960’s television series Danger Man who once said the following.
“I can remember precisely, one of the locations was at a place called Portmeirion – driving in a – and I remember it – it was a bronze Aston Martin and I drove it down this little street”
What more of an excuse did I need? I live in a little street for starters. And, when Aston Martin’s press demonstrator Rapide S turned up it was finished in a very dark (very nearly) bronze hue. Almost without hesitation I pointed that famous grille North West.
The Rapide S is Aston Martin’s flagship. By stretching the modular the chassis that underpins all modern Astons the boffins at Gaydon made room, in what up to then was essentially a DBS, for another two trademark swan-wing doors and two more full-size hand-stitched leather-clad sports seats to accompany them. Just for good measure each seat is individually heated or cooled and the upper half of the rears can be folded flat in-order to create a relatively capacious and flat load-space should you need to carry goods rather than friends, foes or fellow assassins.
As with all four seaters styled with coupe-like rear quarters, head and legroom up-front is better, but it’s not too Lilliputian further aft either. Four prop-forwards and their kitbags, will no doubt struggle – I’d suggest that everyone pack light to be honest – but anyone under six foot should find the Rapide S’s rear seats accommodating enough for maybe an hour or two providing neither driver or front seat passenger aren’t too tall. It is a tad cosy back there though.
Once aboard all should also appreciate the interior’s luxury. Soft Scandinavian leather covers nearly every surface, including the head-lining. Messrs Bang and Olufsen provide the tunes, there are (optional) individual DVD screens for those in the back, and come nightfall both anti-clockwise rotating rev-counter and 220mph speedometer glow like Swiss wrist-watches. With the active suspension set to comfort the Rapide S dismisses minor road imperfections with aplomb, slushes through its 8 gears, and will happily soak up the miles, and slip near silently up the road whilst barely breaking a sweat.
But, where’s the fun in that?
Press the button that firms up the dampers, and select Sport mode and this Aston Martin super saloon becomes the super-car its famous winged badge suggests it should be. Use the paddles to swap gears for yourself and let the revs rise and the purr of the 6 litre 550bhp V12 soon becomes an addictive and intoxicating snarl.
It may be more suited to long sweeping corners that it is to narrow mountain passes but push harder a little and a little brake later and the Rapide S seems to shrink around you. It begins to feel lithe and agile. You forget it’s a four seater; it becomes a sportscar.
But despite its designer-suit looks, epic performance and bespoke luxury the Rapide S is not without fault. The switches for the minor controls are fiddly and distracting; the column stalks are straight from a Fiesta. The thick A pillars block your view at roundabouts and the sat-nav proves infuriating. And why does one of the best stereos in the business have to come with the display that belongs on 90’s desktop calculator? It’s thirsty too – sub 20mpg thirsty when driven like your life depends on it.
Still, you only live once, they’re just minor niggles. Buy yourself an atlas, head for the coast via Bala and The Berwyns and enjoy.
Driving an Aston Martin Rapide S to North Wales or anywhere for that matter does indeed prove itself to be a memorable experience. Sadly there simply isn’t time or the space to tell how good the drive back was!
Be seeing you! As they say in Portmeirion.
Aston Martin Rapide S
Engine: 5,935cc 12Cyl 48V petrol
Transmission: 8 speed auto with shift by wire, rear wheel drive.
Power: 552bhp @ 6650pm
Torque: 465 lbft @ 5500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.2 Sec
Max Speed: 203 mph
MPG: 21.9 combined
Price: from £147,950 (car driven £162,585)
For more information visit http://www.astonmartin.com