What's New for 2014
The 2014 Aston Martin Rapide, which is now called the Rapide S, gets a bigger, more prominent grille. Behind it is an updated V12 engine. The Rapide S also costs slightly less than last year's model.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact car that started the trend of four-door sedans styled to resemble two-door coupes, but the Aston Martin Rapide is perhaps the most convincing. Both in how it looks and how it drives, the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S has the ability to mislead casual observers and seasoned drivers alike.
Utilizing an extruded-aluminum chassis bonded to an aluminum and composite skin, the Rapide S is similar in construction to Aston's other sports cars. Precision is evident in nearly every detail, from the car's intricate door hinges to the way it confidently tracks in corners. For this year, Aston Martin has revamped the V12 under the Rapide S's long hood. The result is 17 percent more power (up to 550 horsepower) with no penalty to fuel mileage compared with last year. Our testing revealed that the 2014 Rapide S is indeed quicker because of it.
As a grand tourer, the Rapide S is equally capable of comfortably putting down hundreds of miles on arrow-straight highways as it is confidently sweeping along curvy roads. The Aston Martin Rapide S stands alongside the Porsche Panamera in the way that it so effectively possesses similar, seemingly contrasting talents. It's worth noting, however, that the Rapide S's rear-seat accommodations aren't as generous as the Porsche's, and those small rear doors and sloping roof conspire to make entry and exit for passengers a bit challenging.
Measured as a practical choice, which to some extent every sedan must be, the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S isn't our first pick. Here, the Panamera, as well as the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur and 2014 Maserati Quattroporte, would get the nod. But while the Rapide S might not be the ideal sedan in the strictest sense, few machines on the planet are at once so beautiful, fast and rewarding to drive. Taking a drive down the coast or up into the mountains would be a genuine occasion in itself, and not simply time lost en route. When considered solely as a soul-stirring grand touring coupe with an extra set of doors, it's hard to do better.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S is a four-passenger, high-performance luxury sedan with a hatchback-style trunk.
Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, driver-adjustable adaptive dampers, a limited-slip differential, bi-xenon headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, front and rear automatic climate control, power front seats with memory functions, heated front and rear seats, a full leather interior, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a Garmin-based navigation system and a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
In addition to or in lieu of, options for the Rapide S include different wheels, alternative brake caliper colors, titanium hood and side vents, exterior and interior carbon-fiber trim packs, ventilated front and rear seats, audio system upgrade, a rear-seat entertainment system, a six-piece custom-fit luggage set that matches the interior leather, and numerous special paint and leather colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive Aston Martin Rapide S is powered by a 5.9-liter V12 good for 550 hp (up from 470 hp) and 457 pound-feet of torque (from 443 lb-ft). A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is the only transmission available.
In Edmunds testing, the Rapide S accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, which is certainly quick, but notably slower than less expensive luxury sport sedans, including the supercharged Jaguar XJ Supersport, Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG and Porsche Panamera Turbo. Despite this year's increased engine output, EPA-estimated fuel economy remains 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined.
The 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear parking sensors, front side airbags and four individual side curtain airbags. In testing, the Rapide S braked to a standstill from 60 mph in 114 feet. That's about average for a car of this size with performance tires.
Interior Design and Special Features
It's difficult to find a surface inside the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S that's not covered in velvety-soft, impeccably stitched leather while wood, bamboo, piano-black or alloy trim (and even sapphire crystals) fill in the blanks. Regardless of surface or finish, all of the materials are authentic. The gauges are equally eye-catching, and some may find it charming to have the dial indicators for the speedometer and tachometer rotating in opposite directions (the tach spins counterclockwise), but it's off-putting to us.
The Rapide S doesn't have a central-knob infotainment controller, so day-to-day operation of the various systems comes from using the center stack's reasonably labeled buttons. Its standard navigation system is a Garmin unit adapted to deploy, gracefully, we readily acknowledge, from the dash. For this kind of money, though, we think a lot of potential buyers would want a larger screen and a more elegant design. We also noticed, at least with our test car, a disappointing number of squeaks and rattles.
The driver seat is marvelously comfortable, with ample legroom and headroom for taller drivers. However, the low-slung seating position and coupelike greenhouse feel more like those of a sports car than a traditional sedan. The backseat certainly offers more space than an Aston Martin coupe like the DB9, but it makes the Porsche Panamera feel as if it's a stretch limousine. Headroom and legroom are limited by the style-driven design. The bigger concern is the lack of hiproom caused by the transaxle's wide tunnel. In short, the Rapide S can take a pair of couples out to dinner, but you wouldn't want to drive everyone to the Hamptons for the weekend.
Luggage space grows from 14 cubic feet to a little more than 31 after folding both rear seatbacks forward to create a truly flat cargo bay. And unlike traditional sedans with rear bulkheads, the way the folded seatbacks are finished and how they release and gently fall into place is unique.
Climb into the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S's snug driver seat and you might think you're actually in a DB9. Not only are the controls around you practically identical, but the way the car confidently takes a corner and communicates through its quick steering makes it feel like a tight sports car, not a luxury sedan. The variable suspension dampers do an outstanding job providing a smooth, controlled ride as well.
In an age in which engines are shedding cylinders and adding turbochargers to maintain output, the naturally aspirated V12 under the Rapide S's hood has a personality and a voice like no other on the road today. Only Ferrari and Lamborghini offer similarly unbridled songs. Like analog gauges and tube amplifiers, this engine is something special that might not be around much longer. The automatic transmission is ultra-smooth, even in manual-shift mode where the shifts are markedly quicker.
Because of the Rapide S's long, low-slung body, there is an elevated risk of the lower airdam scraping and high centering on sloped driveways. Owners simply must be mindful of their pretty Aston Martin's underbody and chin spoiler.