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.
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)