RE: Aston Martin Rapide S MY15: Review

RE: Aston Martin Rapide S MY15: Review

Wednesday 13th August 2014

Aston Martin Rapide S MY15: Review

Does the eight-speed gearbox finally make good on the Rapide's potential? PH takes a drive



Complaints about the previously facelifted Aston Martin Rapide S could be divided neatly into the objective and the subjective. The chunky stitching, the out-of-place Ford switches and the overall weirdness of a five-metre long four-seater coupe are all just matters of opinion. Subjective. But the six-speed 'box with its wide ratios and sluggish responses was not good. It was a very objective fly in Aston's Beluga Caviar.

New Fiesta called, wants its grille back
New Fiesta called, wants its grille back
And now it's been plucked from the dish and replaced by the same, fantastic, drivetrain as we tested recently in the similarly updated Vanquish.

Driving the MY15 Rapide S is an occasion in itself. Like most of the cars in this price range, the cockpit inspires an emotional response, for better or for worse. Surely, you'd have to be made of Scottish granite to ignore the melodious bark of 12cylinders firing up.

Eight times better
From the insertion of the pretentiously titled Emotional Control Unit - otherwise known as a 'key' - the stark roar and urgent fast idle from cold are not for the shy and retiring, though it soon drops to a typically smooth V12 tickover. The novelty of such a theatrical procedure may not always be welcome but such are the necessities of the emissions regulated warm-up.

Engine and eight-speed - match made in heaven
Engine and eight-speed - match made in heaven
In relaxed driving, the response of the updated 560hp engine and gearbox is absurdly smooth. It might only be 2hp up on last year, but the new ECU is a big change. And while the magic Sport button isn't quite so important when you're just floating along luxuriously, enjoying the efforts of Messrs Bang & Olufsen, it's always waiting for you.

When attention shifts from inside the Rapide to outside, and you've successfully navigated the frankly bewildering center console to enable sport mode and sport damping, then it all gets quite exciting.

Pushing this massive car through lanes and around hairpins is a lot easier than you'd ever think. Darting changes of direction, confident levels of grip from entry to exit. And that massive, top-end chorus of philharmonic V12 surge standing ready to push the rear tyres to their limits on every exit.

Previously compromised Rapide now more convincing
Previously compromised Rapide now more convincing
We said it of the Vanquish, and we'll say it here too. The quick to change and tightly-spaced eight-speed ZF gearbox is the best thing to ever happen to this car. It suits the delivery and nature of the AM29 engine perfectly. Scooting up to seventh and eighth in automatic modes maintains an economy unheard of in such a gratuitous 6.0-litre beast (21.9mpg combined, 31mpg extra-urban!). And the short gaps between ratios mean you can keep the motor on the boil when required. No dropping out of the power here. The Rapide S will even top 203mph now, a massive increase over last year's 190mph.

That this experience can be shared with three full-size adults, with only the slightest trade-off in performance versus a two-seater, is impressive.

With significant objective faults eliminated, the Rapide S might have reached a pinnacle right now. It's relatively safe to assume that this could be the last naturally-aspirated Rapide S ever. Over the horizon lurks AMG power, and behind that the global might of Mercedes Benz. Will it just be AMG engines that get shared with AML, or will the CLS-building Germans want a bigger slice of the pie?


ASTON MARTIN RAPIDE S
Engine: 5,935cc, V12
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 560@6,650rpm
Torque (lb ft): 465@5,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.4 sec
Top speed: 203mph (electronically limited)
Weight: 1,990kg
MPG: 21.9mpg (claimed)
CO2: 300g/km
Price: £147,950





   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Author
Discussion

mrclav

Original Poster:

704 posts

151 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Although there will predictably be posts on here saying "they need to change the styling/it doesn't look as good as the original" etc this is still one hell of a nice car; there's an older lady who shops in my local Waitrose who drives Concours Blue one and I must say the car turns my head every time. I think it's a lovely day-to-day proposition.

Edited by mrclav on Wednesday 13th August 12:27

thatguy11

561 posts

51 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Still can't get over the fact that the key is called an "Emotional Control Unit". Plus the "Power, Beauty, Soul" dash display.

It's the sort of thing that you might be able to get away with in flamboyant Italian stuff, but it's just chintzy and kitsch in an Aston Martin

NickZ4

54 posts

91 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Can you get me her number?

exceed

433 posts

104 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
As above

smilo996

1,377 posts

98 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Saw a dark bronze on in the flest the other week. Spellbound. It is just a beautiful car and that it is four dorrs is difficult to see from a distance and that Aston have done such a good job in making it look so beautiful with four doors. TYhe Upper rear 3/4 view is amazing. Powerful rear haunches.

Never seen the problem with the intimate cabin. Who actually drives from London to Monaco in a car these days. From house to restaurant perhaps, in which case it is fine. To deliver the kids to school sans RR Sport more likely.

That Dr Bez increased Aston's sales etc is all well and good yet the predatory, nationalistic and protectionist German car industry another matter. He stated clearly that Aston production would move abroad and the early Rapide was built in Austria.
It is getting really tiresome that Germany is eating up so many car companies with their suppliers in tow.

That V12 (although made by "special Aston employees" at Ford Cologne) is a thing of beauty. It will be replaced by a mass produced AMG unit. Which in reality is oddly similar to BMW's until you realise that BMW's main suppliers are the same as Mercs.

Next up an AMG unit, the ZF box plus axles topped with Bosch electronic everything and German suspension. Aston Martin will thus be reduced to sewing leather, knocking panels about and some painting for a while before it finally dies as an independent company. Even Dave Richards has given up. Cosworth, Hewland and Ricardo will likely follow at some point too.

To many that won't matter because so many people push numbers about in glass towers these days. It might however to the @250 people that could be making engines for Aston Martin and subsequently other companies. Buyers will be swooning at the fact that AMG is pumping its suppliers into an other soon to be lost independent British car company. If McLaren, Jag, TVR and other companies can, so could Aston Martin. Fortunately by the time I can afford this Rapide it will be the last of the great Aston V12's (although it is made in Cologne by Ford).
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mrclav

Original Poster:

704 posts

151 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
NickZ4 said:
Can you get me her number?
If you saw her you might want to run... to the hills. All joking aside, she's married; her dude rocks a Ferrari 612 as his daily!

Coldfuse

509 posts

122 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Lovely looking car, i bet it sounds amazing aswell. But that centre console really lets the car down. It looks like its a 10 year old design shoehorned into the car.

neil1jnr

1,010 posts

83 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
I still don't see the need for this 'MY15'

I asked on another thread and it means model year.. but this is 2014 and the car is 14 plate?

Can somebody help out, I am a bit confused, is this like the American's calling cars that are new in 2014, 2015 cars???

Max_Torque

12,133 posts

145 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
smilo996 said:
Saw a dark bronze on in the flest the other week.
Are you Carcoat Damphands??? ;-)


(see Sniff Petrol for anyone not getting the reference!)

Max_Torque

12,133 posts

145 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Ok, so it's got a decent transmission now, hows about actually having back seats a human can fit comfortably into???

Europa1

6,070 posts

116 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Fabulous looking car from any angle where you can't see the grille.

E65Ross

20,059 posts

140 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Awaits the "too many gears brigade" to arrive. Sounds fantastic.

Amirhussain

10,456 posts

91 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Can't really get excited about this..

Chris71

21,348 posts

170 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Great write up.

E65Ross

20,059 posts

140 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
smilo996 said:


That V12 (although made by "special Aston employees" at Ford Cologne) is a thing of beauty. It will be replaced by a mass produced AMG unit. Which in reality is oddly similar to BMW's until you realise that BMW's main suppliers are the same as Mercs
Hang on, which mass produced V12 Merc engine are you on about? I reckon there are more Aston V12a about! Nobody seemed to moan about the V12 in a Pagani Zonda or Huayra.

Edited by E65Ross on Wednesday 13th August 14:05

mr_tony

6,173 posts

197 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
Still a great looking and sounding car.
However, gearbox aside its still pretty dated, cramped in the rear (impossible for kids on child seats particularly) and lacks usable luggage space.

Its still just a coupe with occasional rear seats for small people who aren't in child seats.

The Rapide falls between 2 more extreme and better options. For my money a Conti GT or a Ferrari FF offer better sporting / capacity balances...

gigglebug

708 posts

50 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
I like this car especially the front grill. In fact it wasn't until it lost it's generic same old, same old face that it made sense to me. It now has the understated masculine aggression that every Aston should have. It's a blokes car and shouldn't be "pretty" It has the balance just right if you ask me. The standard cars are a bit too feminine to my eyes and something like the Vanquish looks like it's trying too hard for the sake of trying. It would definitely be top on my list of executive cars to try if I were in the position to do so along with an early Quattroporte GTS. I think that both would be able to stir emotions that big Merc's, BMW's and even the Panamera would miss

Edited by gigglebug on Wednesday 13th August 14:25

tali1

5,091 posts

129 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
mr_tony said:
Still a great looking and sounding car.
However, gearbox aside its still pretty dated, cramped in the rear (impossible for kids on child seats particularly) and lacks usable luggage space.

Its still just a coupe with occasional rear seats for small people who aren't in child seats.

The Rapide falls between 2 more extreme and better options. For my money a Conti GT or a Ferrari FF offer better sporting / capacity balances...
Iirc a Conti GT is rather cramped aswell.Best 4 seater would be Merc S coupe/CL
Most of these cars are Personal Luxury Vehicles that by their nature will be comprimised.
Rapide owner will have full fat RR when full practicality is required.

toohuge

2,957 posts

144 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
neil1jnr said:
I still don't see the need for this 'MY15'

I asked on another thread and it means model year.. but this is 2014 and the car is 14 plate?

Can somebody help out, I am a bit confused, is this like the American's calling cars that are new in 2014, 2015 cars???
Car manufactures change specs and colour options (usually just names) year on year, to prevent the model range for looking stale.

These updates are usually announced around April / May time, with cars arriving in the US around September / October. The manufactures distinguish these models by model year designation as it is easier to determine what spec and updates are on that car.

For companies such as Mercedes and BMW, it is essential as there can be huge differences between the model years.

Newro

703 posts

190 months

Wednesday 13th August 2014
quotequote all
thatguy11 said:
Still can't get over the fact that the key is called an "Emotional Control Unit". Plus the "Power, Beauty, Soul" dash display.

It's the sort of thing that you might be able to get away with in flamboyant Italian stuff, but it's just chintzy and kitsch in an Aston Martin
Couldn't care less what they call the key. I think it looks fantastic, especially when put next to a Ferrari or Porsche key ring. The "Power, Beauty, Soul", yeah I don't like that either, but neither do I care enough.

What I do care about is that they apparently haven't addressed any of the dash board ergonomic issues. It looks good on pictures, but actually in the car driving, it is not quite that brilliant. 10 years ago you could get away with that pop up screen, in 2014 it looks ridiculously dated inside a car with a six figure price tag. The reverse rev counter might be a gimmick one gets used to, but the fact that neither it nor the speedo start at the bottom, but slightly beyond is playing mind tricks when trying to drive slowly. More a problem is the polished steel / reflective material - on a sunny day you can hardly read it.

None of the above are mayor issues, but they have been around 10+ years now and by not addressing them at all the gap between the competition is only going to widen.


The exterior is as gorgeous as one came to expect from AM. Not sure about the big grill, it works as long as a number plate is present.

Edited by Newro on Wednesday 13th August 16:41