Fast Facts: What is it?
A four-door Aston Martin Why should I care?
Itís Aston Martinís answer to the age old problem of having a shapely sports car with practicality. Plus, itís an Aston Martin. How fast and how much?
All alloy quad overhead cam 48 valve 5935cc V12
Front mid-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive. Max Power 350 kW (470 bhp / 477 PS) at 6000 rpm Max Torque 600 Nm (443 lb ft) at 5000 rpm Acceleration 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds; 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 5.3 seconds Max Speed 188 mph (296 km/h)
Base Price: $199950 (USD)
Four door coupe. Itís a term thatís been bandied around in recent times, especially in reference to cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Audi A7 Sportback.
Itís a misnomer Ė the dictionary definition of coupe is ďa closed, two-door car shorter than a sedan of the same model.Ē So there you go, Merc and Audi; two doors makes a coupe. However, if ever there was a car that you could just wince and let the ďfour-door coupeĒ reference slide, it would have to be the Aston Martin Rapide.
I mean, just look at it. Marek Reichmanís masterpiece is the definitive yardstick on how to design a four-door car. No other sedan (wince, again), past or present, looks as good as the Rapide does.
Additionally, no other sedan packs a naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12, either. Like all Aston Martins, the Rapideís aural charisma is nothing short of electric, being a mandatory ďwindows downĒ vehicle when going through tunnels or in between tall buildings. Yes, my local CBD copped a lot of Rapide thunder, and business people didnít seem to mind Ė smiles all Ďround indicated a stamp of approval from the suits.
Itís the guttural bark and metallic roar above 3500rpm that sees fuel consumption regularly sail north of 20-litres/100km. It doesnít matter what the fuel price is; the sound alone is worth the price of admission.
But is it quick? Well, packing 470hp under the bonnet, it should be. But the fact is the Rapide weighs in at a fraction under two tonnes (1990kg), which does blunt its straight-line potential somewhat. However the Rapide lives up to its name, hitting 60mph from rest in just 5.0 seconds dead. But itís how it accelerates beyond that figure that impresses. Once on the roll, itís decidedly quick, piling on speed with alacrity.
To ensure you get the most from it, press the sport button at the bottom of the familiar centre stack. This quickens throttle response, but also sharpens up the gear changes from the Touchtronic 2 transmission (otherwise known as a ZF six-speed automatic). Like Jaguar, Aston Martinís auto calibration is the best in the business; Downshifts happen when you want, itís smooth in normal mode, and snappy in sports mode. Perfect.
Itís a big beast, too. Ensure that you have the room in your garage, because the Rapide is over five metres long, that gorgeous long bonnet being the most prominent feature of its length.
The sheer size of the Rapide serves to give it an immaculate ride, with its longer wheelbase reducing the short, sharp vertical pitching some sports cars display. The adaptive damping definitely does the trick, taking out staccato bitumen and expansion joints.
Thereís no getting around its weight, though. With that big V12 sitting out front, despite its near-perfect weight distribution, you can feel it pushing wide in really tight corners, while more open sweepers have it much more settled and flowing. In the tight twisty stuff pressing the Sport button only helps with sharp directional changes as it reduces body roll. Everywhere else, it just makes the ride more jittery. But the other changes it brings (gearshifts, and did I mention the noise?) make it worth leaving on almost all the time.
The Rapideís steering is also fabulous, giving excellent weighting, and a nice direct feel with plenty of feedback. Its turning circle is also a lot better than youíd expect.
Dynamically, then, the Rapide has its limitations, but given the fact you can bring an extra two passengers to the track, and the fact itís so involving means you overlook itís slight flaws.
But what about other flaws? Well, yes, the amount of space for rear seat passengers isnít exactly limousine-like; the Porsche Panamera wipes the floor with the Aston in this respect. But the seats themselves are extremely comfortable, and the Panamera looks like it was designed by Ssangyong. Enough said.
The rear seats can actually house adults, with my six-foot frame taking up most of the space, but not feeling too claustrophobic. As a family car for those with kids, this is a well thought out piece of kit. The rear seats have cutouts which enables a baby- or booster-seat to be fitted very easily (yes, I did try it) because the straps donít have to go over the top of the chair like in other luxury cars. It makes a much more practical proposition for the enthusiast Ė you donít have to leave the kids behind. You can keep them entertained with the screens on the back of the front seats, too.
Boot space could be better, at 317 litres, but it has a folding partition which allows you to carry skis, or smaller bags on the parcel shelf, while in the up position it separates the boot completely.
Quality is in abundance, too. Sure, itís a familiar theme, but it doesnít stop Aston Martinís interiors looking elegant and sporty all at the same time. The leather is soft and comfortable, the switchgear all feels good, but we wonít mention the low-res sat-nav, will we?
Bang & Olufsen supplies the stereo in the Rapide Luxe (which was our test car) and it lives up to its reputation as a ridiculously clear system which is a pleasure to listen to. I defy anyone not to switch it off and just listen to the engine, though.
Despite its mechanical soundtrack, to reduce noise, each of the windows is double layered, using two pieces of glass with a thin layer laminate in between. On the road, even with its 20-inch wheels producing tyre roar, it works.
Itís a fabulous car, the Rapide. Itís not without its shortcomings, but then, what car isnít? Sure, there may be technically better competitors out there, and cars that are quicker and ultimately more spacious but none of them look, sound or feel as good.
Itís not a four-door coupe Ė no car ever will be Ė but itís certainly the closest thing to it: a sports car with two extra doors.