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Driving the 2015 Aston Martin Rapide S

The new sedan generates 552 hp and 465 ft lbs of torque…

The Aston Martin Rapide made a bold but elegant visual statement when it debuted in 2010, oozing with graceful styling in a field otherwise dominated by functional, performance-oriented alternatives.

Five years later, the updated 2015 Aston Martin Rapide S (from $204,995) delivers a definitively punchier take on the genre, with subtle bodywork enhancements and more significant performance improvements. The new Rapide S has more aggressive cues at both ends: A larger grille offers a more imposing countenance, with the added benefit of enhanced engine breathing, while an upturned tail spoiler brings more gravitas along with greater downforce (and therefore more stability) at higher speeds.

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Matching the aesthetic enhancements are improvements to the power train. The naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V-12 generates 18 percent more power than its predecessor, for a grand total of 552 hp and 465 ft lbs of torque. A new 8-speed gearbox from ZF also improves performance as well as handling, thanks to its quicker shifts and greater range of ratios. The 8-speed transmission is notably lighter than the outgoing 6-speed, allowing for better cornering. These power train improvements allow the Rapide S to go from zero to 60 mph in only 4.2 seconds

Activating sport mode furthers the sensation of speed by sharpening throttle response and making the exhaust note significantly raspier; the effect is so prominent that if you were blindfolded and placed in the driver’s seat, you would be hard-pressed to tell if you were in a sedan or a coupe.

This exhilarating speed is experienced within the Rapide S’s plush leather-and-Alcantara-trimmed cabin. The backseats, on the other hand, reveal the car’s volumetric limitations. With such a sleek, low-slung roofline and a space-robbing rear transaxle, this particular Aston Martin is far from the most spacious four-door offering in the high-end sedan segment. But given its aesthetic edge and visceral improvements, the Rapide S makes a strong case for backseat occupants sacrificing a bit of function for a whole lot of form. (astonmartin.com)

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