First Drive: 2014 Aston Martin Rapide SShapely Sedan Gets Sportier Moves

2014 Aston Martin Rapide S 004   

There’s no denying that Aston Martin is in the business of making cars look and sound like wonderful, mechanical works of art. These aren’t things people buy simply to satisfy a basic craving. A desire enters the mind, and it must be satiated. This desire can start down in your brain, your heart, or in the pit of your stomach. Ultimately though, it will take over your entire being. This is what I imagine it’s like to put an Aston Martin-branded machine into ones garage.

When one thinks of Aston Martin, they no doubt think of the glorious V12 engines. There’s the fantastic bodywork to behold, and the aural notes that fill blissful ears for miles. Still, one most likely thinks of coupes when the automaker’s name is brought up. The long line of Vantage and DB variants are the supreme beings on planet Gaydon… but there exists another creature that’s trying to break from the pack, without losing sight of where it comes from.

I’m talking about the four-door Rapide sedan, which has been refreshed for the new model year. It gets a delightfully little “S” badge tacked onto the end of its name. What exactly does that mean?

Everything.

The 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S has been given a revised front-end, reworked tail, upgraded suspension damping system, and a new version of that oh-so sweet twelve-cylinder twist maker. The first thing one is sure to notice is, without a doubt, the new face. If I were to take a poll of folks who have seen the car, I’d imagine that 50 percent would love it and 50 percent would hate it. To some it might add a touch of aggression to an elegant four-door sports car, while others might see it as a Rapide that went in for a botox perma-smile that would make the Joker blush.

In person it works. It works quite well actually, and it sets off a series of lines that cut and flow backwards to sculpt the rest of the bodywork. Eventually those lines make it out back where the tail has been given a new integrated decklid spoiler for improved aerodynamics. That’s a good thing, since the Rapide S is capable of hyper-illegal speeds, and that spoiler keeps the rear end in love with the pavement.

2014 Aston Martin Rapide S 009

Just as the outside upgrades are mostly minor, the interior have been dealt a new hand with a light touch. There are optional packages to add more luxury to an already luxurious car. Still, I do wish that Aston would’ve introduced the updated center stack that’s found in the all-new Vanquish. This car receives the older generation central infotainment area, and it’s far inferior to what is available in the parts bin. Additionally, the rear seats are not a desirable place to sit for anyone in possession of a pair of legs. Alright, that may be a bit of an exaggeration as I did climb back into the right rear to film a professional driver pushing the Rapide S around the Tilke-designed Atlanta Motorsports Park:

[youtube width=”720″ height=”405″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBIQQrSK70Q[/youtube]

Seems fairly effortless for such a big machine right? After all this sled weighs in at 4,378 pounds. That’s essentially the opposite of light. There’s engineering wonder afoot however, because this upgraded Rapide is hiding a few new tricks. The suspension is now fitted with the Adaptive Damping System. There are three settings: Normal, Sport, and Track. Each firms up the ride noticeably, with body roll reduction and less rise and fall over bumps. Additionally, the Rapide S can be put the transmission and throttle into a Sport mode. This quickens throttle response in a highly noticeable manner, opens up the exhaust baffles far earlier, and forces the gearbox to act like it wants to be at this party.

Thanks to that upgraded suspension, the Rapide S is a rather competent handler of twisty stuff. It feels far smaller, more agile, and lighter than I initially expected it to behave. Grab the left paddle to drop it down a cog, give it a hefty amount of boot, and tell the steering wheel where you want the nose to go. It does that with wonderful feedback and consistent feel. When it’s time to setup for the next corner, the front and rear dual-cast disc brakes are more than up to the task. There’s no need for carbon ceramic on an exotic luxury machine like this, and the dual-cast units weigh less than standard steel clampers. You get plenty of stopping power without the constant squealing of the look-at-me carbon ceramics.

2014 Aston Martin Rapide S 012

All of this action would be nothing without the mighty mill parked betwixt the fenders of this sultry sedan. The updated 6.0-liter V12 engine now pushes out 550 horsepower at 6,750 rpm and 457 pound-feet of torque at 5,550 rpm. Paired with the Touchtronic 2 six-speed paddle-shiftable transmission, the Rapide S can make the 0-60 miles per hour jaunt in 4.7 seconds. Not bad for something that weighs as much as most sport utility vehicles. Keep that throttle pressed and the Rapide S will blast down the road until the needle tickles 190 miles per hour. That’s quite a speed for a vehicle that can (allegedly) fit four people.

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It should be no surprise that a car like this doesn’t wear an inexpensive price tag. Here in the States, the starting price is $199,950. That’s not a small sum of money, and there are faster vehicles for smaller sums. You’re buying more, however, when you write a check to the fine folks at Aston Martin. You’re getting more style, more substance, and more exclusivity. Those matter to the well-heeled buyer who has seen country club parking lots filled with the Porsche Panamera Turbo, Mercedes-Benz CLS63, and Bentley Flying Spur. The Rapide S fills in that desire to take your overall motoring experience a step above.

Your heart, your brain, and that feeling in the pit of your stomach have all been satisfied.

Also, with the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S you also get more… well, Rapide. More power, style, and ability. It really is about more here, and the Rapide S delivers it beautifully.

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Full image gallery available here.

[Disclaimer: Aston Martin flew me to Atlanta to drive the 2014 Rapide S. They put me up in a lovely hotel, fed me tasty morsels, and then shuttled me out to a racetrack the following day.]

Images Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jeff Glucker

4 Comments

  1. You say that "the rear seats are not a desirable place to sit for anyone in possession of a pair of legs" but the biggest probelm in the +2 seats is that the roofline curves inwards above you and tapers in plan around you that it is barely possible to sit upright. I am around 5'11" (and more leg than trunk) but the side of my head was rubbing the (admittedly lovely) alcantara headliner. The next problem is that when you do find someone who fits well in the back — a child perhaps? — the beautifully tapered glassline is well above their eyeline; a recipe for motion sickness and the bespoiling of your lovely leather seats.
    It is a car definitely designed for outward appearance rather than passenger comfort.

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