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It's said that the Aston Martin name has the strongest "cut through" in brand-land. In other words, it's held in the highest regard by the most people on the planet. And looking at the strikingly sexy new Rapide S Coupe we can understand why.
Unequivocally the best looking four-door sports coupe bar none, the Rapide S was recently upgraded with a new face, new engine and new features to offset the price tag that starts at $378k.
Does that price make the Rapide S irrelevant?
Possibly, but plenty of people buy dream cars and the others can...well, dream about them.
We realised the dream last week with a 500km spin in the gorgeous big Aston.
There are a few numbers you need to have in your head when thinking about this predominantly aluminium car apart from the price.
It weighs 1990kg, has 411kW/630Nm and can clock a 0-100kmh sprint in 4.2 seconds. If you can find a suitable runway, top speed is 327kmh.
The low slung 'coupe' is hand built in the UK by craftsmen (persons?).
The biggest change in second generation of the Rapide S is the new V12 engine along with the adoption of an eight speed ZF automatic transmission.
Sundry interior upgrades have also appeared that nearly bring it up to the incredibly high-tech levels of the Germans.
We spent plenty of time on the driveway simply ogling the Rapide, under the bonnet, under the car and inside the passenger compartment.
The engine is physically huge but fits mostly behind the front axle for a favourable fore/aft weight distribution.
Underneath the aluminium and composite body are mostly cast and or forged aluminium suspension components.
The huge brakes are two piece with floating discs on the front.
Inside is a study in British leather and chrome that even smells right.
Though not the most intuitive dash, plenty of drive options are available through a push button system or through the multi mode controller. Paddle shift is provided on the manually adjustable steering wheel.
A small secondary readout screen is somewhat annoying, as are the various menus you have to navigate to setup the car how you want it. Once that's achieved all's good.
Strictly a four seater, each occupant is cosseted in a cocoon of luxury with individual controls for many luxury features. The rear doors are small but once ensconced, there's plenty of room for adults in the back.
A clever folding divider and luggage space floor gives the Aston adequate bag capacity through the wide opening tailgate.
The doors themselves open out and up which not only looks cool but is also practical.
Premium accessories are used throughout and the B&O audio is monumental.
On the road the Rapide S is a serious piece of kit in the GT-car mould rather than a sporty point-and-squirt sports car. It feels better and better the faster you go which is problematic in this country, great for driving on high speed European autobahns though.
That big 6.0-litre V12 cranks out plenty of poke shifting the weighty and large Aston with real purpose when you push the accelerator hard. But we are not fans of V12 engine exhaust notes. They sound OK but a V10 or V8 sounds better. A tail pipe flap system generates more decibels low in the engine rev and speed range, after that there's a muted burble. Runs smooth as silk though and doesn't use excessive amounts of fuel when cruising.
Rapide S sprints out of the blocks, and as already mentioned feels stronger the faster you go. Multiple drive modes are provided ranging through Comfort to Track that alter the adaptive suspension, throttle response, steering and other aspects of the car.
In track mode, the steering feels a tad heavy but apart from that, it's an engaging car in every sense. Adding to the experience is the attention you get from onlookers.
We had a real crack on a favourite road and found the Rapide surprisingly agile for such a big car but there are limits dictated by its weight. Big grippy tyres help immeasurably, as does a form of torque vectoring.
Out on the freeway it's beautiful wafting along with supple suspension absorbing bumps and the quiet interior allowing full appreciation of the 1000W audio system.
Loved the heated sports seats, front and rear parking sensors, auto wipers and lights but we wonder what happened to the radar cruise with auto brake function, lane keeping, 360 degree camera, fatigue monitoring and all the other stuff you get on competitor cars. And the options are too expensive.
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