Used 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S
Edmunds' Expert Review
While the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S isn't the ideal sedan in the practical sense, few machines on the planet are at once so beautiful, fast and rewarding to drive.
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.
2014 Aston Martin Rapide S configurations
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
An intoxicating indulgence. That's the simplest way to describe the revised 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S, an entrancing supercar sprinkled with equal parts luxury, speed, practicality and frustration.
It is a four-door. A big four-door. At 117.7 inches, the Rapide's wheelbase is nearly 3 inches longer than that of the monstrous Porsche Panamera. The Rapide is also 2 inches longer overall than the big Porsche. Even its price tag is big, $220K in our case.
But it's still a sedan, so undeterred by its premium demeanor we used it like any other sedan and headed to the Monster Jam show with the 4-year-old in back. Possibly ours is the only Rapide to ever witness Grave Digger's utter dominance of this uniquely American spectacle of methanol-fueled gratuity.
But the trip triggered other, more practical, observations. Like the fact that the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S is equally elegant navigating a parking lot awash in Coors Light, Oscar Meyer products and domestic pickup trucks as it is, say, dancing through the Welsh countryside.
Elegant or not, Monster Jam fans don't discriminate when it comes to horsepower. Their enthusiasm for this rarest of sedans was no less than it might be for a 1,400-horsepower car-crushing behemoth. And though it may have been the Coors talking, some even suggested the Rapide sounded better: an observation with which our pre-schooler agreed.
Now Even Less Subtle
Reengineered for the 2014 model year, the Aston Martin Rapide S churns out some 80 hp more than the car it replaces: the Rapide. Under the hood lies a revised 5.9-liter V12 engine good for 550 hp and 457 pound-feet of torque. Changes are vast. There's a new block, new dual variable-valve timing heads with new cams and machined combustion chambers. Bigger throttle bodies and a more efficient intake manifold combine with a higher-volume fuel pump to increase the combustibles on tap. Altogether, the engine shed 22 pounds.
What's more, the V12 sits 0.75 inch lower in the chassis to both improve pedestrian crash standards and lower the Rapide's center of gravity — a fact which neither sobered nor impressed the tailgating beer swillers.
A six-speed automatic transmission is controlled by shift paddles and directs power to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential.
There's also a new front end design including an updated grille and revised rear haunch that decreases lift at speed.
That the Rapide S is among the best-looking sedans made today isn't a point of contention. Its undeniable similarity to the Aston coupes (OK, except the Cygnet) is infinitely more successful than Porsche's failure in marrying 911 proportions to the Panamera.
But It's the Driving That Matters
And if the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S is good at one thing, it's driving. Steering this direct and precise is rare in dedicated sports cars and wholly unlikely in a car this big. Although not overly quick, there's immediate response without the granular road feel that often accompanies such a virtue. It's a perfectly calibrated character for a car in this class.
Though the Rapide S consistently lacks the outright speed of Porsche's Panamera, it makes its German competitor feel downright antiseptic by comparison. Both offer scalpel-precise controls near the limit, but the Aston's edge is purely emotional. Its engine sounds better during rev-matched downshifts, it's an undeniably sexier thing and it gives up nothing in feel. Its six-speed auto slams home the next gear as deliberately as you'll ever need, though the lack of a redline on the tachometer is a genuine oversight when paddling gears manually.
From behind the wheel, the driving position and control placement feel more sports car than sedan. Traditional sedan traits like an upright seating position and a tall greenhouse are sacrificed at the altar of style. But it works well enough during hard driving to be worth it.
Balance is neutral, predictable and coupled to huge grip, which yields high confidence on the road. Three-mode adaptive dampers increase control when it's needed. Sport mode (the middle setting between "normal" and "track") is amply suited to the hardest road driving and also yielded the best slalom numbers on our imperfect course.
The Rapide S offers a truly unique experience behind the wheel: the opportunity to drive a genuinely large car that feels smaller the harder it's driven.
Neither launch control (which is not available) nor any real technique are required to effectively leave the line in the Rapide S. Appropriately, the best acceleration is just a throttle stomp away. Zero wheelspin accompanies the resulting 12.9-second pass at 111.2 mph, which is 0.4 second behind but 3 mph faster than the last Porsche Panamera GTS we tested.
The difference is the Porsche's all-wheel-drive system, which also gets it to 60 sooner: Panamera 4.1 seconds (3.9 with 1-foot rollout) versus the Rapide S at 4.8 seconds (4.5 seconds with 1-foot rollout).
Handling numbers are closer still. Though its wheelbase does it no favors during transitions between cones, the Rapide S still managed a 68.5-mph slalom speed with very minimal stability control intervention. The Panamera GTS produced a nearly identical 68.6-mph pass.
Making an outright 0.94g on the skid pad is a solid number for any car, sedan or not. And that's just what the Rapide S did. All-wheel-drive grip helps the Panamera turn 0.96g here.
Our Rapide stopped from 60 mph in 114 feet and demonstrated consistent pedal feel throughout both testing and street driving.
We also measured 15.9 mpg over about 440 miles, which aligns well with the EPA's stated numbers of 13 city/19 highway and 15 mpg combined.
This Is a Sedan, Right?
The downside of a sedan whose design ethos is primarily style-driven is compromised practicality. But the trade-off comes in near equal proportion to the Rapide's emotional and visual appeal.
Rear-seat space, though functional, is laughably less than that offered in a Panamera. The Rapide's inward sloping greenhouse and minimal fore/aft legroom will discourage even medium-size passengers from occupying the rear seat for trips of significant distance. Put simply, when it comes to people hauling, you'll be better off with a Panamera.
Cargo space, too, isn't perfect. Though there's a folding shelf that divides the cargo area to more securely store large items, the folding seatbacks in our car were a problem. The rear seatbacks fold down to create a flat load floor, but, once folded, ours wouldn't re-secure in the upright position.
You'll want instruction on the Rapide's audio, HVAC and navigation interfaces before attempting to use its button-heavy controls. Its standard navigation system is a Garmin unit adapted to deploy, gracefully, we'll admit, from the dash. For this kind of money, though, we'd want a bigger screen and more elegant design.
Just starting the beast is an event. Insert the key fob into the dash, then push and hold until the engine lights. It's novel, but we couldn't help but think many buyers might more fully appreciate the convenience of keyless start.
Then there's the backward-sweeping tachometer, which would be wrong even if it had a redline painted on it.
The rest of the interior is a mix of stunning details and surprising disappointments. Among the stunning details: magnetic locators for nearly every hinged interior piece. The center console door, bin doors, rear cargo divider and deck lid cover all utilize magnets to maintain their fixed positions. Immaculate red-stitched leather covers most surfaces except the headliner, which is either suede or an equally elegant synthetic substitute.
Front and rear seats are both heated and ventilated, and our tester included the optional rear-seat entertainment package that offers screens in the seatbacks of both front seats and wireless headphones to go with them. This the monster truckers loved.
The various squeaks and rattles in the dash we observed during vigorous driving were troubling. And though those might be forgiven because our test car was an early example, the fact that hard driving made its structure creak like the Queen Mary in a monsoon is more difficult to overlook.
The Final Chapter
Starting at $202,945 including delivery, the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S is a big ask. Aston Martin wants $220,770 for our tester equipped with interior and exterior carbon-fiber packs, 20-inch wheels and the rear-seat entertainment system. This pricing represents a decrease of about $9,000 from the 2013 Rapide, which makes the new, more powerful S model a substantial value improvement.
Measured as a practical choice, which to some extent every sedan must be, the Rapide S isn't our first pick — its packaging is too confined, its interfaces too complex and lacking in refinement, and it costs significantly more than its competitors from Porsche and Maserati.
However, few machines on the planet will trigger the emotional response produced by the Rapide S. It is at once beautiful, fast and rewarding to drive. Its allure knows no boundaries: appealing equally to the young of heart and young of mind. When considered solely as a soul-stirring device with an extra set of doors, it's hard to do better.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation
Used 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S Overview
The Used 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S is offered in the following submodels: Rapide S Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (5.9L 12cyl 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.