The Aston Martin Rapide S is a four-door ultra-luxury sedan that borrows styling elements and mechanical components from the brand's elegant sports cars. Though many of its rivals serve up more space for the rear passengers, the Rapide S does offer enough room for four adults to go along with its exotic looks and impressive performance.
For the latest model year, Aston Martin has upgraded its sleek sedan with a more powerful V12 - now boasting 550 horsepower - along with freshened styling and a number of new interior options packages. Aston also changed the name from Rapide to Rapide S to reflect the significant nature of the revisions.
With sinewy flanks, perfect proportions and a gracefully sloping roofline, the Rapide S is a dead ringer for Aston Martin's DB9 coupe - except, of course, for its extra set of rear doors. One element that sets the Rapide S apart is its massive, one-piece front grille, which came as part of the recent update and stands in start contrast to the two-tiered grille configuration of the rest of Aston's lineup.
Also new to the sedan is an updated version of Aston's handbuilt 5.9-liter V12 that first appeared under the hood of the new Vanquish supercar. It produces 550 horsepower and 447 lb-ft, increases of 80 ponies and 14 lb-ft over last year's motor. A specifically tuned six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission allows the driver to change gears automatically or manually via the steering column-mounted magnesium paddles.
The Rapide S is capable of rocketing to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 190 mph.
An adaptive damping system offers three different suspension settings - "Normal," "Sport" and "Track" - to allow the driver to prioritize handling or ride comfort as desired. They system also takes sensor readings from the car's systems, including throttle position, brake position, steering wheel rotation and vehicle speed, to determine driving conditions and configure the damping accordingly.
Inside, the cabin is marked exquisite leather upholstery, aluminum and piano black trim (a variety of woods are also available) and alcantara. The well-bolstered seats are more than up to the task of keeping occupants in place during spirited backroad romps while also providing long-distance comfort.
While overall design and execution of front of the interior is superb, there are a couple of ergonomic quirks to note. First, the instrument panel gauges are arranged in a counter-clockwise setup, which is slightly odd but ultimately something most drivers will likely get used to. Second, and of more serious concern, the navigation system feels about a decade behind what's available in, say, a modern Kia, and the location of its small pop-up screen at the top of the center stack makes it feel like an afterthought.
At the rear, the interior features two bucket seats separated by a tall center console. While comfortable enough, they don't feature as much leg or headroom as can be found in more conventional sedans of the Rapide S' size.
Continuing the successful brand partnership between Bang & Olufsen and Aston Martin, the Rapide S is fitted standard with the 1000 watt BeoSound Rapide - a bespoke sound system tailored specifically to the Rapide. It includes 15 speakers that have been optimally located throughout the cabin to deliver the audiophile-level sound quality.
Options include cooled front and rear seats, a DVD entertainment system complete with a 6-disc player and two LCD screens, along with a plethora of interior finishes, such as: Eye Maple, Olive Ash Burl, Double Apex Alloy and matching wood door trim. Various other interior and exterior components can be customized as well, ranging from wheels, to brake caliper finish to Magnum silver rear lamp infills.
An available Piano Black interior pack adds a deep, mirror-like shine to the center console, transmission tunnel center plate and door handles along with a dark surround in the instrument binnacle and steering wheel. Blend headlinings in either tan or grey round out the package.
Like other Aston models, the Rapide S offers a Carbon Exterior pack that includes a carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, mirror caps and rear lamp infills.
The Rapide S comes standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, electronic brakeforce distribution and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Those in the market for a highly luxurious sedan with a bit of sporting flair can consider alternative to the Rapide S such as the Porsche Panamera Turbo S, which features stupefying acceleration along with controversial styling, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, which offers up a spacious and pampering interior, and the value-priced (in comparison) Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S.