Rapide eye move­ment

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS -

bumps and the quiet in­te­rior al­low­ing full ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the 1000W audio.

Loved the heated sports seats, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, auto wipers and lights. What hap­pened to the radar cruise with auto brake func­tion, lane keep­ing, 360 de­gree cam­era, fa­tigue mon­i­tor­ing and all the other stuff you get on com­peti­tor cars? And the op­tions are too ex­pen­sive They nailed this one in the style depart­ment. Park it and watch the pa­rade.

Needs a tech­nol­ogy up­grade to stay with the com­pe­ti­tion.

IT’S said the As­ton Martin name has the strong­est “cut through’’ among car brands. In other words, it’s held in the high­est re­gard by the great­est num­ber of peo­ple.

And run­ning an eye over the strik­ing new Rapide S Coupe we can un­der­stand why.

The best look­ing four-door sports coupe bar none, the Rapide S has new front styling, new en­gine and new fea­tures — and prices that start from $378,000.

Does that price make the Rapide S ir­rel­e­vant? Pos­si­bly, but plenty of peo­ple buy dream cars and the oth­ers can ... well, dream about them.

We re­alised the dream last week with a 500km spin in the gor­geous big As­ton that’s hand­built in Bri­tain.

Com­peti­tors are the Maserati Qu­at­tro­porte and the Porsche Panam­era with per­haps the Benz CLS AMG thrown in.

The big­gest change in the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Rapide S is the fit­ment of a 6.0-litre V12 (411kW/630Nm) and the ad­di­tion of an eight-speed ZF au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Sundry in­te­rior up­grades nearly bring it up to the level of the Ger­mans.

The en­gine is phys­i­cally huge but fits mostly be­hind the front axle for a favourable fore­aft weight dis­tri­bu­tion.

Alu­minium and com­pos­ites make up the body­work and most of the sus­pen­sion com­po­nents are cast or forged alu­minium.

Inside is a study in Bri­tish leather that smells just right plus chrome high­lights.

The dash is not the most in­tu­itive but there are plenty of drive op­tions avail­able via push­but­tons or the multi-mode con­troller. Pad­dle-shifters flank the man­u­ally ad­justable steer­ing wheel.

A small sec­ondary read­out screen is some­what an­noy­ing as are the var­i­ous menus to be nav­i­gated to set up the car the way you want.

It’s strictly a four-seater, each oc­cu­pant cos­seted in lux­ury with in­di­vid­ual con­trols for many fea­tures.

The rear doors are small but adults, once en­sconced, have am­ple room in the back.

A clever fold­ing di­vider and lug­gage space floor gives the As­ton ad­e­quate ca­pac­ity through the wide open­ing tail­gate. The doors them­selves open out and up which not only looks cool but is also prac­ti­cal.

Pre­mium ac­ces­sories are fit­ted through­out and the B&O audio is mon­u­men­tal.

The Rapide S is set up in grand tourer mode rather than as a point-and-squirt sports car. It feels bet­ter and bet­ter the faster you go — prob­lem­atic in this coun­try, great for Europe.

The V12 shifts the weighty (1990kg) As­ton with real pur­pose when you push the ac­cel­er­a­tor hard. It can clock 0-100kmh in 4.2 seconds. If you can find a suit­able run­way, top speed is 327kmh.

But we are not fans of V12 ex­haust notes — they sound OK but a V10 or V8 sounds bet­ter — and a V12 seems anachro­nis­tic th­ese days. Other makes use smaller ca­pac­ity turbo V8s for sim­i­lar or bet­ter re­sults with lower emis­sions and fuel use. In the Rapide S, the V12 runs smooth as silk and when cruis­ing doesn’t use ex­ces­sive amounts of fuel.

Drive modes range from Com­fort to Track, al­ter­ing the adap­tive sus­pen­sion, throt­tle re­sponse, steer­ing and other dy­nam­ics.

We had a real crack on a favourite road and found the Rapide sur­pris­ingly ag­ile for such a big car but there are lim­its, dic­tated by its weight.

Big grippy tyres help im­mea­sur­ably as does a form of torque vec­tor­ing.

Out on the free­way it’s beau­ti­ful waft­ing along with sup­ple sus­pen­sion ab­sorb­ing

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