"The rear passenger doors swing up slightly on opening - adding to the drama of travelling by Aston Martin"
The Aston Martin Rapide is a four-door luxury car that offers searing performance and a very high quality interior. It rivals models such as the Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte, and the smooth 6.0-litre V12 engine produces 470bhp, which provides the big Aston with a 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds. It retains many of the exterior styling cues of Aston Martin's coupes, such as the famous grille, side vents and swooping bodywork, but inside is a spacious, elegant cabin with four individual seats. The Rapide offers a very comfortable ride thanks to adaptive suspension, with very little road noise entering the cabin, and it manages to combine the handling and performance of a sports car with the comfort of a limousine.
The Rapide's 470bhp V12 is the highlight of the driving experience. It's impressively quiet when cruising, but delivers serious power when required. It means the Rapide is capable of 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds and has a top speed of 188mph, but it's the way the Rapide handles that impresses the most. Although the car weighs nearly two-tonnes, precise steering allows the driver to position the car on the road with great accuracy - just like a nimble sports car.
The adaptive suspension is capable of dealing with most road surfaces and provides a very compliant ride. Potholes and drain covers are easily absorbed with little fuss. Passengers over six-feet tall may find the rear seats slightly cramped due to the large central divider, and there's a lack of legroom compared to some rivals. The seats themselves are very slim, but are hugely comfortable.
Throughout the cabin, the interior feels very well built, which is just as a hand-made car should. Reliability wise, the Rapide uses tried-and-tested running gear, and no major faults have been reported. A range of front and rear airbags are fitted, so all occupants are well catered for in the event of an accident.
The Rapide's rear doors swing upwards slightly as they open, which provides good access to the rear seats to all but the very tallest passengers. Once inside, the rear cabin is a very pleasant place to be, and the high central transmission tunnel houses controls for the heated seats and optional rear DVD players. The front cockpit is brighter but equally well-designed, and has useful central armrest storage - the door pockets are on the small side however. Under the rear tailgate, the 317-litre boot is quite small for this class, restricted mainly by the raised boot floor.
Value for money
The Rapide looks mightily expensive when compared to the Porsche Panamera, which although isn't as good looking, is roomier and offers far better performance. The Rapide comes very well equipped as standard however, featuring a hand-made leather interior, cruise control, Bluetooth, sat-nav, parking sensors and even a boot-mounted umbrella.
The large V12 engine is very thirsty, offering less than 17mpg on most occasions. The Rapide also sits in the higest Road Tax bracket. Factor in large insurance premiums, expensive servicing and replacement parts, and the cost of ownership soon spirals to a level that only the very wealthy can afford.