While design and luxury are important parts of every Aston Martin, everything starts with the engine. The Rapide S gets an improved front-mounted 6.0L V12 that is now capable of 550 hp and 457 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a Touchtronic 6-speed shift-by-wire automatic with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. This combination is capable of propelling the Aston to a top speed of 188 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds.
The Rapide S is, thoroughly and in every way, an Aston Martin. The chassis is bonded aluminum, while the body is aluminum, magnesium and composite. The wheels on which it rides are 20-inches tall and the suspension is a perfectly tuned double-wishbone setup that incorporates anti-squat, anti-dive and active damping for a smooth ride even during high performance driving.
The Rapide S has all the latest in safety and performance technology, such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist and positive torque control.
Standard equipment inside includes front and rear climate control, 8-way front power-adjustable heated seats, Bluetooth, navigation and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.
As befits a luxury car at this price, extensive customization is possible. Aston Martin provides no fewer than 4 20-inch wheel options, brake calipers in 4 colors, interior wood moldings in mahogany, bamboo or carbon fiber. The interior door panels can be trimmed in perforated leather, special Aston Martin logos can be embroidered into the headrests and the sill plaques can be personalized to suit the buyer. Aston Martin will even match any other manufacturer paint color and will match the interior leather to a customer-provided sample.
Aston Martin is one of those brands that ooze with nearly unquestionable appeal. The company's cars look great, sound great, have all the prestige and provenance you could want, and just happen to have a long history of being driven by one of the suavest men in movie history. That your average Aston Martin is typically more expensive and slower than its closest competition rarely factors into the discussion -- it's all about the experience.
Many experiences are heightened by the proximity of loved ones, and so, the more the merrier, right? Thus the idea of a four-door, four-seat Aston Martin. It's been tried numerous times through the decades, most recently with the Rapide. Based on the, the original Rapide launched in 2010 to fair reviews and underwhelming sales. It looked nice and handled well enough for a four-door, but to find true success Aston would need to develop a car good enough to drop that qualifier.
And that's what it's attempting to do with the Rapide S. While that extra letter sounds like a sporty options package, the Rapide S actually replaces the original model, offering a small suite of remarkably effective upgrades. It's better-looking, faster, more powerful, and, get this, $10,000 cheaper than the outgoing version, starting at $199,950. Sadly, though, it isn't much smarter on the inside.
The Good The 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S is one of the most gorgeous and enjoyable four-door cars on the planet. Its active suspension lets it switch between grand tourer and track monster at the push of a button, while its 550-horsepower V-12 delivers plenty of power.
The Bad The interior is almost totally lacking in modern tech niceties, and rear seating is cramped.
The Bottom Line It's a stunner of a car that happens to seat four, though its beautiful interior is in dire need of a high-tech makeover.
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