Because our test took place in cold conditions, Aston opted to provide a Rapide on winter tyres. That inevitably makes for a penalty against our timing gear, but in spite of that, you can still see the improvement in performance that Aston has made to this car in the numbers we witnessed.

Truth is, we already know this is a sub-5.0sec car to 60mph. Our test, in a 470bhp Rapide on Bridgestone Potenza warm weather covers, recorded the sprint in 4.9sec. The new Rapide S, shorn much less appropriately for standing start acceleration, takes 5.3sec over the same pitch.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
At heart, the Rapide is still a sports car

With two tonnes to get moving and 552bhp to put down, the surprising thing is actually how well those winter tyres cope; they’ll allow you to use most available power in 1st gear, and all of it once you hit 2nd.

Despite its considerably poorer traction, the new car was only one tenth of a second slower than old to 100mph. It was the faster car of the two to 120mph, and was a full 3.3sec quicker to 150mph – at which point the end of MIRA’s mile straights called a halt to any further comparison. 

A Porsche Panamera Turbo will just nudge through 160mph on the same straights; even with the right tyres, we doubt the Aston could have done that. The last BMW M5 is quicker still, and might have hit 170mph there were it not for the speed limiter. So the Rapide can’t be considered the four-door performance king. But the car’s outright pace still feels mighty, and so it should. Bentley’s Continental GTC V8, for example, took a second longer to hit the big 1-5-0.

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Speed, however, is only as half the story in this wonderfully traditional-feeling long-nosed GT. It’s equally matched by an orchestral V12 soundtrack, and accompanied by luxurious, full-cream mechanical refinement. 

Shifts of that ZF automatic gearbox may not be whipcrack fast, but they’re perfectly smooth. Aston’s engine insulation allows just enough warble and whine into the cabin to make the car seem expensive and eccentric, but not a hint too much. It’s a wonderful combination – and an increasingly distinguishing one in a market where old-school mechanical richness is routinely sacrificed on the altar of ever–greater efficiency.

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