What's New for 2012
Manufacturing of the 2012 Aston Martin Rapide is moving from Austria to England. As for the car, it receives a new, easier-to-operate navigation system this year.
Aston Martin is headquartered in Gaydon in Warwickshire, England, and this is where the 2012 Aston Martin Rapide will be painstakingly built alongside the DB9 sport coupe, with which it shares an engine and much of its structure. Starting as a concept car just a few years ago, the Rapide has quickly become a halo car for the legendary maker.
Utilizing a cutting-edge extruded-aluminum chassis bonded to an aluminum and composite skin, the thoroughly modern Rapide is built to exacting standards. This precision is evident in every detail, from its intricate door hinges to the way it confidently tracks in corners. Endowing a four-passenger sedan with the talents and sensations of a sports car has been a lofty mission many automakers have attempted but few have accomplished. Our testing revealed that the Rapide offers as much grip and agility as a dedicated two-seater.
But that would be selling the Rapide short. As a grand tourer, it is equally capable of comfortably putting down hundreds of miles in a sitting with all the comforts and amenities expected in this class of vehicle. A high-end sound system, a navigation system and an adjustable suspension are only the tip of the iceberg. In this way, the Aston Martin Rapide stands alongside the Porsche Panamera as the only other sedan that can claim similar, seemingly contrasting talents.
Some concessions to interior space were made, however, in the name of its immediately recognizable exterior shape. Though competitors like the Jaguar XJ Supersport or Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG sacrifice practicality in favor of style and performance, the Rapide's limited outward visibility and rear passenger accommodations go even further. While rear head- and legroom are simply sufficient, the large tunnel containing a carbon-fiber driveshaft leaves the foot- and hiproom of both rear bucket seats very limited. Also, the small rear doors and sloping roof conspire to make ingress/egress challenging. That said, the large, flat cargo bay available beneath the hatch-style rear glass is surprisingly convenient.
It's worth noting that in an age where engines are shedding cylinders and adding turbochargers to maintain output, the naturally aspirated V12 under the Rapide's hood has a personality and a voice like no other on the road today. You may find cars with higher output than the Rapide's 470 horsepower. You might be dissuaded by the Rapide's projected fuel economy. You might even find a louder engine, but none will raise goose bumps as quickly as the quad-cam, 48-valve 6.0-liter V12 does at full song. Like analog gauges and tube amplifiers, this engine is something special that might not be around much longer.
Overall, we're pretty smitten with the Rapide's unique nexus of old-world style, exacting craftsmanship, modern manufacturing techniques, comfort and agility. It might not be the ideal sedan in the strictest sense, but taking a drive up the coast in the 2012 Aston Martin Rapide would be a genuine occasion in itself, and not simply time lost en route.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Aston Martin Rapide is a four-door four-passenger 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 new 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 replacing the above, the Rapide Luxe gets different wheels, standard ventilated front and rear seats, a secondary glass-trimmed key fob, glass switchgear, a rear-seat entertainment system, a six-piece custom-fit luggage set that matches the interior leather, and special paint and leather colors. Other than the switchgear, all of the Luxe equipment is available on the standard Rapide.
A rearview camera is also optional. Naturally, there's a rather large selection of colors to choose from, plus you can request any paint code Aston Martin or any other manufacturer has ever used. There are also plentiful interior trim types and leather hues available. Our favorite option: We know of no other carmaker that offers a wristwatch transponder that replaces the remote key fob. Of course, Aston Martin teamed with Swiss Jaeger-LeCoultre for this pricey James Bond-inspired accessory.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive Aston Martin Rapide is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 good for 470 hp and 443 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is the only transmission available, and power is effectively put to the road through a limited-slip differential.
In Edmunds testing, the Rapide accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds, which is certainly quick, but notably slower than luxury sport sedans like the supercharged Jaguar XJ, Mercedes CLS63 and Porsche Panamera Turbo. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined.
The 2012 Aston Martin Rapide comes standard with antilock disc brakes, brake assist, stability and traction control, front side airbags, and four individual side curtain airbags. Front and rear parking sensors are also included. In testing, the Rapide braked to a standstill from 60 mph in just 107 feet. That's truly sports car territory.
Interior Design and Special Features
It's difficult to find a surface inside the 2012 Aston Martin Rapide 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 the materials are true to their nature and 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 speedometer also has such tiny numbers and a huge range that it's rendered practically useless. Luckily, there's a digital speedometer in the trip computer.
When it comes to day-to-day operation of the interior, easily deciphered buttons combine with a central LCD screen to create a more user-friendly and better-looking interface than in past Astons. Still, even with the new Garmin navigation system replacing the rubbish old unit, the Rapide's interior controls aren't as high-tech as those of competitors.
The driver seat is marvelously comfortable, with ample legroom and headroom for taller drivers. However, the low-slung seating position and coupelike greenhouse feel like those of a sporty GT rather than a traditional sedan. The backseat certainly offers more space than a GT coupe like the DB9, but it makes the Porsche Panamera feel like a stretch limousine. Headroom and legroom are limited, though there's still just enough space for a 6-footer. The bigger concern is the lack of hiproom caused by the transaxle's wide tunnel. In short, the Rapide 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 when both rear seatbacks are folded forward to create a flat cargo bay.
Climb into the 2012 Aston Martin Rapide'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 makes it feel like a tight sports car, not a luxury sedan. The two-position continuously variable dampers do an outstanding job providing a smooth, controlled ride as well. The automatic transmission is ultra-smooth, even in full-attack manual-shift mode where the shifts are markedly quicker. The electric-assist power steering is uncommonly good. Like most similar systems, it is extremely precise and friction-free, but the Rapide's also offers a sense of connected delicacy most do not. The classic V12 soundtrack is simply icing on the cake: incredible and intoxicating.
Because of the Rapide's long, low-slung body, there is an elevated risk of high centering on driveways. Owners simply must be mindful of their pretty Aston Martin's underbody and chin spoiler.