It's been a long time since we took an Aston Martin to a test track. Our testing team was still in its infancy and many of today's editors didn't even work here yet. We were still publishing books back then, for Pete's sake. Anyway, we're long overdue.
The 2011 Aston Martin Rapide is the stylish alternative in the uber-luxury-sport-sedan segment that has pretty much been overshadowed by the Porsche Panamera. But this $200,000 super sedan isn't just a beauty queen. It's got a 5.9-liter V12 cranking out 470 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque.
So, was it worth our wait? Did it do Aston Martin proud or does the Porsche Panamera Turbo S still deserve to be at the front of everyone's mind?
Vehicle: 2011 Aston Martin Rapide
Driver: Chris Walton
Base Price: $207,895
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Longitudinal, DOHC, V12, gasoline
Redline (rpm): 6,900
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 470 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 443 @ 5,000
Brake Type (front): 15.4-inch ventilated discs with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14.2-inch ventilated discs with four-piston fixed calipers
Suspension Type (front) Independent, double wishbone, coil spring, driver-adjustable dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent, double wishbone, coil springs, driver-adjustable dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/40ZR20 (95Y)
Tire Size (rear): 295/35ZR20 (105Y)
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Potenza S001
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer performance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,469
0-30 (sec): 2.1 (2.1 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.5 (3.6 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 5.1 (5.2 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.8 (4.9 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 7.2 (7.3 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.2 @ 108.1 (13.3 @ 108.2)
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 107
Slalom (mph): 68.8 (66.8 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.91 with ESC in "track mode" (0.90 w/TC off)
Db @ Idle: 50.7
Db @ Full Throttle: 86.9
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 70.5
Acceleration: No matter what mode, this car refuses pedal overlap from a stop, and just sort of loafs if you try. Best launch is off brake and whack the throttle to the floor. Very little (if any) difference with Sport selected. I tried manual shifts because it seemed to short shift @ 6,500 (rev limiter is 6,900) but the tach is slow and shift light comes on too late, resulting in hitting limiter. Even with ESC/TC off, wheelspin was impossible. Auto upshifts are very quick and gentle.
Braking: Pedal was initially very firm, then grew softer by the last few stops (and also softer later on while slowing after quarter-mile runs.) Rapid ABS cycling provided seamless, straight stops. With shocks in firmest setting, surface irregularities caused distance irregularities. Good fade resistance, but overall not outstanding.
Skid pad: Amazingly informative steering -- nearly as much info as a Porsche 911 and far more than Panamera. Excellent throttle response enables minute arc adjustment without steering input. Mild understeer at the limit that Track mode ESC was able to quell for a slightly better result than "off." Firmest shock setting worked best here (unlike braking and slalom)
Slalom: Started with ESC off, Sport and Firm shocks, and the car felt edgy and apt to under-and-oversteer. Switched shocks to softer (more compliant) setting and it felt like there was more grip (certainly more control of body motions). Had to remember how long this car is because it feels so light and nimble through the delicate and precise steering. Able to coax tail out, but the tidy/tight line was fastest. Very nice!