What the road testers said at the time
‘“IT’S STILL A SPORTS CAR.” Of all the things I was told yesterday when I collected the Rapide from Aston’s Gaydon HQ, that was the one that struck me most, the statement that snagged in my mind like a bur on a woollen jumper. Mostly, I guess, because I wanted it to be true…
Mooching around town, the Rapide feels a little lazy, the responses of its torque-converter auto soft, its 5.9-litre V12 surprisingly subdued after the flourish of revs and throaty roar that announced its firing up. There’s a ‘Sport’ button that sharpens throttle and gearbox response, and prodding it and using the wheel-mounted paddles puts the car on higher alert and puts you more in charge, which bolsters your confidence.
The view from behind the wheel is pure DB9, but you’re aware that there’s more mass along for the ride. That said, the button to select a firmer damper setting goes unpushed because the big Aston is quite firmly sprung, nicely taut, and feels rewardingly precise as it is. In places you can read a couple of hundred yards of this road’s curves and plot where you’d like to apex, and the Aston delivers. Its front end is faithful and accurate and although there’s occasional mild kickback through the rim, the ideally weighted steering feels more natural than that of any other recent Aston. It has a faster rack rate than the DB9 in order to give it the same feeling of agility, and it does that and more.
Grip from the bespoke Bridgestone Potenza S001s is strong and there’s hardly a flicker from the stability control light as the 470bhp V12 digs deep. Aurally, the V12 comes alive from 3000rpm, as if a dozen trumpet mutes are doffed in unison, the sound becoming heavy, gravelly, glorious.
There’s an easy, natural feel to its dynamics and, when you ask, it delivers. Its steering relays more information [than its rivals], and its chassis is especially good in the transient moves, flicking left, right, left. The upshot is that the Rapide isn’t ‘still’ a sports car; it’s a more impressive steer than the DB9 or DBS.’ – evo magazine, March 2010