Aston Martin Rapide


Debut: 2010
Maker: Aston Martin
Predecessor: No



 Published on 1 Mar 2010
All rights reserved. 


Aston builds a four-door sports car...

Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez said Rapide is "the only four-door sports car in the world". A bold statement it might sound, but I think it is true. The most sporting 4-door performance cars currently on the market are Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera. They are very fast and capable, unquestionably, but neither are built on sports car platforms - in the case of Porsche, it is even built on an SUV platform. Aston Martin's latest four-door offering is different. It is derived from the VH platform of DB9, employing much the same V12 engine, double-wishbone suspensions and even exterior design ! See it as an extension of DB9 and it won't be far off.

Nevertheless, the statement of Dr. Bez has the flip side. It implies Aston Martin, now under new owners, lacks fund to develop a dedicated 4-door platform. The fact that no one else builds "four-door sports cars" is because their market demand is questionable, or at least unproven. If Dr. Bez is given sufficient funding, do you think he would still be determined to do a 4-door sports car ? It goes without saying that a 4-door based on sports car platform would have to compromise on accommodation, comfort and luggage carrying capability. Think what would happen if Porsche derived 911 into a 4-door. Or Aston Martin's own Lagonda became a four-door version of V8 Vantage.



The fact that no one else builds "four-door sports cars" is because their market demand is questionable...

However, given the financial constraints, you can't help admire what Aston Martin has achieved with Rapide. This car looks gorgeous. It keeps the emotion of DB9 intact in a much longer package, and even inject some extra thrill with four butterfly doors which open outward and slightly upward (note: Dr. Bez used a more romantic description instead, swan wings). Its interior is very well crafted. Rear passenger space is not as bad as imagined, and on the run its refinement is even surprisingly good. Above all, it feels more exclusive than Porsche and Maserati. I would say not even Bentley has that sense of occasion. This is probably what Dr. Bez wants most.

The Rapide started life from DB9. As its aluminum VH platform is flexible to expand both longitudinally and transversely, some 250 mm has been inserted into its wheelbase and 55 mm has been added to its width. The roof is raised by 40 mm in order to make room for rear passengers without corrupting the flowing roof line. The whole car now measures in excess of 5 meters long and weighs nearly 2 tons. Ridiculously, it weighs the same as Porsche Panamera Turbo, which employs steel monocoque chassis and incorporates four-wheel drive.


It keeps the emotion of DB9 intact in a much longer package...

The aluminum space frame chassis by extrusions has another disadvantage: to achieve the same strength as steel ones, its structural parts have to be larger, eating more space. As a result, the rear door apertures are unusually small, even though the doors look large enough from outside. Entering the rear seats takes special precaution - step across the sill, put one foot into the tight foot well, thread your body into the deep bucket seats while keep your head from hitting the sloping roof. No other four-door saloons are more difficult to get into.

The rear seats are mounted close the floor because of the low roof line. This mean the seating position is not as comfortable as that of a conventional saloon. However, there is enough head and leg room if you are no taller than 6 feet. Inevitably, the environment feels snug, thanks to a huge transmission tunnel separating the seats and the shallow glass all round, also the fact that the rear passenger's vision is seriously blocked by the front headrest. Sitting at the back is somewhat like captured in prison, albeit a prison luxuriously trimmed in stitched leather and real alloy. The front vision problem may be overcome by ticking the optional DVD entertainment system, which adds LCD screens to the back of the front seats. It looks more economy class than first class though. The large transmission tunnel doubles as armrest for the rear passengers. It also provides a control panel on which you can control the entertainment system, air conditioning and seat adjustment. Following the control panel is a couple of cup holders, elegantly trimmed in alloy and leather. The decoration is classy enough to convince adults to spend an hour or two at the back. How about cross-country trips ? No thanks. It's best leave to kids.


Sitting at the back is somewhat like captured in prison, albeit a prison luxuriously trimmed in stitched leather and real alloy.

The Rapide has a hatchback door and its rear seats fold to expand luggage space. It is unlikely to be used as airport express though, because the boot measures only 317 liters, smaller than your family hatch. Even with the rear seats collapsed, luggage space is still less than 900 liters.

As expected, the dashboard comes straight from DB9. With plenty of bespoke buttons, wood and alloy, it looks classier yet more traditional than its mass market competitors. The only let down is the Volvo-sourced satellite navigation, which is at odds with the surrounding expensive materials.

Unlike DB9, the dashboard of Rapide is decoupled from the windscreen via foam to eliminate squeaks. Similarly, to isolate the cabin from road harshness, the rear subframe is now mounted to the chassis via rubber bushings. The steering column is rubber insulated as well to reduce kickback. Double glazing windows and new window sealing technology are employed to insulate wind noise. Such NVH engineering know-hows are elementary to most other luxurious car makers, but they are new to Aston Martin and took it a lot of time to learn.


The dashboard is decoupled from the windscreen via foam to eliminate squeaks... All NVH know-hows are are new to Aston...

The suspensions are basically the same as DB9's, except with beefed up lower wishbone up front to take on the increased weight. Bilstein adaptive dampers are once again standard. As for braking, Brembo supplies the latest dual-cast brake discs, whose lightweight aluminum hubs should help improving ride quality.

In the engine bay is the high-torque version of Aston Martin's 5935 c.c. V12. Since its birth on DB7 Vantage some 11 years ago, this engine hasn't changed much, just like some good old British traditions (ridiculously, it is actually built at Cologne by Ford). It still goes without modern technologies like variable valve timing or direct injection. What it has is plenty of displacement, and an angry roar that sets it apart from the smoother, higher-pitched Ferrari V12. In the high-torque version, maximum torque is lifted to 443 lb-ft at 5000 rpm, compared to 420 lb-ft / 5750 rpm on DBS. The trade-off is less top end power, i.e. 470 hp at 6000 rpm instead of 510 hp at 6500 rpm.

Aston believe few people want a manual transmission in a four-seater like this, so the only one offered is ZF's 6-speed automatic, completed with manual mode and shift paddles, of course.

On the Road


The big V12 isn't quite as enthusiastic for rev. It is more about effortless performance.

On the road, the Rapide is not as rapid as its name suggested. 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds is hardly headline today. Porsche Panamera Turbo does that in less than 4 seconds. Maserati Quattroporte GTS is about the same as Aston, but its rev-hungry V8 makes you feel it is faster and more thrilling. In contrast, the big Aston feels lazier, partly because of its weight, partly because of its linear torque delivery. Sure, the big V12 has plenty of reserve, but it isn't quite as enthusiastic for rev. It is more about effortless performance. However, it must be pointed out that the V12 does produce a stirring noise that not many rivals can match.

What really surprises is refinement. The Rapide's adaptive suspension is firm but very well damped over a variety of surfaces, including B-roads. On sharp bumps or small irregularities, I bet it is more supple than the Panamera with air suspensions, let alone the stiffly sprung Quattroporte GTS. That must be a big surprise for its sports car look. Apart from ride quality, its cabin is also pretty well insulated from wind whisper and tire roar. Only at very high speed the large, 295/35ZR20 tires may generate road noise to the extent of disturbing.


It flows through bends with poise and composure only available to sports cars with low center of gravity, which it is.

But above all, the most outstanding aspect is handling. Despite of its excessive length, the Rapide is actually very well balanced, more so than DB9 and DBS. It flows through a series of bends with poise and composure only available to sports cars with low center of gravity, which it is. Its steering is the best yet for Aston Martin - light yet accurate, engaging yet free of harshness. Faster steering ratio offsets the longer wheelbase, so its turn-in is sharp enough. At the limit, the big Aston runs into light understeer, but by applying throttle you can swing its tail out in classical way. Try this in a Panamera !

On really challenging roads, the Rapide feels smaller than it is. The same cannot be said to Porsche. This effectively rules the latter out of contention as the best 4-door sports saloon in the world, even though it boosts the strongest performance. Only Maserati is on the same plane as Aston. If you need proper cabin and luggage space for four adults, or if your budget is £100,000 rather than £140,000, Maserati will be no-brainer. If you want a four-door saloon with sports car handling and feel, then Rapide will be the only choice.

Considering most customers of this class have multiple cars in their garages, most likely including a sports car and a Benz or Bentley, there won't be too many people interested in purchasing a 4-door, 4-seater sports car. That is why Dr. Bez is targeting at 2,000 sales per year, just a tenth of the sales target of Porsche Panamera. As the Gaydon factory does not have enough space, production of all Rapides will be subcontracted to Magna Steyr in Austria.
Verdict: 
 Published on 28 Mar 2013 All rights reserved. 
Rapide S


Aston Martin has been busy updating its cars recently. Following Vanquish II, DB9 Mk2 and V12 Zagato, the limelight falls on its four-door saloon Rapide. The latest version is called Rapide S. Visually, it differs from the old car by mainly a far more prominent mouth. It might divide opinions, but after a while you will get used to it and start appreciating the stronger character it brings. Moreover, the huge grille serves to remind you about the more powerful V12 sitting behind it, which is the focus of this update.

This engine is practically the same AM11 V12 that is found in the new Vanquish and DB9. It is mounted some 19 mm closer to the ground to lower center of gravity, which undoubtedly benefit handling, while deliberating space under the bonnet to pass stricter pedestrian safety regulations. The engine itself has a lot of improvement, such as double variable valve timing (previously there was none), lightweight hollow camshafts, a freer flowing intake manifolds, larger throttle bodies and CNC-machined combustion chambers, to name a few. Its smoother breathing frees up its top end delivery, lifting peak horsepower from 477 hp at 6000 rpm to 558 hp at 6750 rpm. That is quite a dramatic improvement considering its displacement remains unchanged. Torque curve improves, too. Not only maximum torque is lifted from 443 to 457 lbft, there is at least 30 lbft of extra torque available at any rev below 4000 rpm. At 2500 rpm, it is 10 percent stronger than before.

Consequently, tractability is enhanced. On the road, you can feel the extra punch it generates, although the improvement is nowhere as dramatic as the effect of turbocharging. It allows you to work less hard on throttle. That said, the true color of the V12 still lies at the upper rev range. It tempts you to stretch it, rewards you with an amazing noise that is incomparable in the world of 4-doors. While its official 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds sounds ordinary these days, it is more satisfying than the old car's 5.1 ticks. In reality, the turbine-smooth manner, the beautiful orchestra from 12 cylinders and the sharp handling combine to make it feel far faster than it is.



Yes, the biggest asset of the Rapide is still its sports car handling and feel. It goes without saying that it is still the only 4-door saloon in the world that is genuinely converted from a sports car. Its low center of gravity, its all-double wishbone suspensions, its good weight distribution and low polar moment of inertia – thanks to an engine mounted rear enough and a transaxle gearbox – all serves to deliver sports car balance, hence sharp turn-in, stable cornering and neutral handling. A 4-wheel-drive Panamera Turbo S might be ultimately quicker from A to B, but the big Aston is certainly more feelsome and entertaining. It feels sharper and more eager to steer. It places its huge body millimeter accurate so that you feel like driving a much smaller sports car. Its hydraulic steering provides road feel and consistency that rivals envy. Most important, its handling is highly interactive – you can power slide the car with throttle and counter steer just as a good sports car does. Just as Dr. Bez said, it "remains a sports car at heart".

Meanwhile, the suspension of Rapide S is made more versatile with a revised adaptive damping system. Now it features 3 selectable settings instead of 2. The standard mode has been softened a bit to cope better with poor surfaces, while Track mode has been added above Sport mode to deal with the smoothest roads like Autobahn. As a result, it is able to provide luxury car ride comfort as well as sports car handling depending on needs.


With more performance and a more versatile ride, Rapide S is more desirable than ever. If not because of its limited rear seat accommodation, we could have given it the maximum rating.
Verdict:
 Published on 8 Aug 2014 All rights reserved. 
Rapide S 2014 update


Like Vanquish, Rapide S is also receiving the new ZF 8-speed automatic transaxle to boost performance, smoothness and fuel efficiency. With 2 additional ratios to play with, its top speed is raised dramatically from 190 to 203 mph, not only setting a new record for Aston but also beating Bentley Flying Spur W12 as the world’s fastest 4-door saloon – if you really see it as a saloon. Meanwhile, 0-60 mph sprint gets a similar improvement from 4.7 to 4.2 seconds. Mind you, it doesn’t feel as quick as some super-torquey turbocharged sports sedans, but the Aston V12 compensates with a great sound and linear power delivery which aids the handling and balance of the car. Like Vanquish as well, the V12 gets a new management system to communicate with the new gearbox and by the way releases another 2 horsepower and 8 lbft of torque. With the help of the 8th gear – which is actually an overdrive, while top speed is reached at 7th – fuel economy improves a little as well.

On the road, the new gearbox shifts so much smoother and faster than the old 6-speeder so that acceleration is now seamless. The new engine mapping brings quicker throttle response to delight the driver further. Comparatively, fewer improvements can be found on the chassis. The front brake discs have grown to 400 mm to deal with the new found pace. The electronic adaptive damping has been retuned to separate Comfort and Track modes further apart. The rear bushings have been stiffened a little. In the softest setting, the Rapide S still rides well on country roads, but in sportier settings it gets tauter body control at the price of more harshness. This makes it even more obvious than before as the world’s only 4-door sports car.

Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout
Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Rapide
2010
Front-engined, RWD
Aluminum spaceframe
Aluminum, steel, composites
5019 / 1929 / 1360 mm
2989 mm
V12, 60-degree
5935 cc
DOHC 48 valves
-
-
477 hp / 6000 rpm
443 lbft / 5000 rpm
6-speed automatic
All double-wishbones
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40ZR20
R: 295/35ZR20
1950 kg
188 mph (c)
5.1 (c) / 4.9* / 4.8** / 4.7***
11.2* / 11.0** / 10.9***
Rapide S
2013
Front-engined, RWD
Aluminum spaceframe
Aluminum, steel, composites
5019 / 1929 / 1350 mm
2989 mm
V12, 60-degree
5935 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
-
-
558 hp / 6750 rpm
457 lbft / 5500 rpm
6-speed automatic
All double-wishbones
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40ZR20
R: 295/35ZR20
1990 kg
190 mph (c)
4.7 (c)
-
Rapide S
2014
Front-engined, RWD
Aluminum spaceframe
Aluminum, steel, composites
5019 / 1929 / 1350 mm
2989 mm
V12, 60-degree
5935 cc
DOHC 48 valves, DVVT
-
-
560 hp / 6650 rpm
465 lbft / 5500 rpm
8-speed automatic
All double-wishbones
Adaptive damping
F: 245/40ZR20
R: 295/35ZR20
1990 kg
203 mph (c)
4.2 (c)
-




Performance tested by: *Autocar, **C&D, ***R&T





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