Test driven: Aston Martin Rapide

Clare Bourke goes for a weekend spin in an Aston Martin Rapide

Clare Bourke goes for a weekend spin in an Aston Martin Rapide

 

When I was asked the question ‘Would you like to test drive an Aston Martin Rapide’ I jumped at the chance. Jumped out of my seat in fact.

I have been a lover of the Aston Martin for as long as I can remember and have watched James Bond movies with my eyes trained on the car he is driving rather than the action.

When I’m rich it’s the car I will own but until then I have to satisfy myself with owning one for a weekend.

I was given a Rapide for three days by Grange Aston Martin in Welwyn and instantly fell in love with its sleek dark grey bodywork and plush cream leather interior. After a quick 20-minute guide to what’s what and what’s where, I was handed the key and off I went.

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Now, I have always thought the only good Aston is a two-door sports car – think DBS as driven by new Bond Daniel Craig – but this car was something else. For a start it has four doors which basically makes it a family car - and my family couldn’t have been happier when I pulled it onto our driveway.

Aston Martin describe the Rapide  as ‘the world’s most beautiful four-door sports car’ and it’s hard to argue with that.

Unlike sports cars that purport to have space in the back but actually leave you with your knees around your ears, the Rapide has loads of legroom in the back so passengers get a comfortable ride too. And luckily that doesn’t compromise the luggage space too much. Granted, it’s not a massive boot but it’s perfectly adequate to hold a modest number of bags for a family of four and if you need more space the rear seats fold individually to give you just that when there’s just the two of you.

But it’s the driver’s seat that is the place to be – once you’ve slotted your glass topped key into the slot to turn the power on. This is a car that is an absolute dream to drive. It is bursting with power – watch that accelerator – and is a completely smooth ride, gliding around corners as if they weren’t there and just as at home on the M25 as on winding country roads, although at nearly two metres wide you’ll want to watch those hedgerows.

It is also very easy to master being primarily an automatic in ‘Drive’ mode but if you’re feeling confident then you can switch to the highly responsive ‘Sport’ Touchtronic mode, changing gear with the leather covered paddles behind the steering wheel and adding a new dimension to your drive. I was nervous at first but quickly got the hang of it and it enhanced my entire driving experience.

The interior is a thing of real beauty with attention to detail missing nothing: Seats trimmed in leather; fascia and instrument cluster with dark zirconium dials on a black surround; trademark glass starter module in the centre of the dashboard; interior storage that includes cup holders, phone and MP3 pockets; LED map lamps; ambient lighting; solid aluminium controls; satin chrome finishes; and a Bang & Olufsen audio system with 15 speakers. I could go but you you’re better of reading the full spec.

After my three days at the helm of this beautiful car, getting back to my company Vauxhall Astra was a bit of a comedown to be honest. I felt too high up and uncomfortable and hated pulling away from Grange Aston Martin and saying goodbye to my weekend companion.

I would honestly say, if you are looking for a luxury, spacious car that is a dream to drive, the Rapide – priced at around �153,000 - really does have it all. The respect and appreciative looks you get from other road users are compensation enough for parting with the necessary funds to own one. Sports car? Family saloon? You decide.

 

GET IN CONTACT

Aston Martin WelwynGreat North Road, StanboroughWelwyn Garden CityAL8 7TQ

0844 248 7163

www.grange.co.uk

If you were expecting a really technical review, this was never intended to be one of those but if you want the spec, here you go:

Dimensions

LENGTH: 5019MM (197.6’’) WHEELBASE: 2989MM (117.7’’) WIDTH: 1929MM (75.9’’) EXC. MIRRORS 2140MM (84.3’’) INC. MIRRORS Turning Circle:  12.5m (41.0 ft) FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 90.5 LITRES (19.9 Imp Gal, 23.9 US Gal) HEIGHT: 1360MM (50.4’’) WEIGHT: 1990KG (4387 LB)

Body

Four-door body style with tailgate and four individual seats Single bi-xenon headlamps with integrated LED side lights and direction indicators Clear LED rear lamps

Performance

Maximum power 350 kW (477 PS/470 bhp) at 6000 rpm Maximum torque 600 Nm (443 lb ft) at 5000 rpm Acceleration 0-100 km/h in 5.2 seconds (0-62 mph) 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds;  Maximum speed 295 km/h (183 mph)

Engine

All-alloy, quad overhead camshaft, 48-valve, 5935cc V12 Front mid-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive Fully catalysed stainless steel exhaust system with active bypass valves Compression ratio 10.9:1

Transmission

Rear mid-mounted, ‘Touchtronic 2’ six-speed gearbox with electronic shift-by-wire control system Alloy torque tube with carbon-fibre propeller shaft Limited-slip differential Final-drive ratio 3.46:1

Wheels & Tyres

20” 20-spoke alloy silver painted wheels Front wheel: 8.5J x 20”; Rear wheel: 11J x 20” Front tyre: Bridgestone Potenza 245/40 ZR20 Rear tyre: Bridgestone Potenza 295/35 ZR20

Steering

Rack and pinion, Servotronic speed-sensitive power-assisted Steering, 2.75 turns lock-to-lock Column tilt and reach adjustment

Brakes

Front: Ventilated dual cast, 390mm diameter with six-piston monobloc calipers Rear: Ventilated dual cast, 360mm diameter with four-piston monobloc calipers Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) Positive Torque Control (PTC) Electronic Park Brake (EPB) Traction Control (TC)

Interior

Full-grain leather interior Walnut facia trim and Graphite centre console finish with Iridium Silver surround Leather sports steering wheel Electrically adjustable front Sports seats Heated front and rear seats Memory front seats and exterior mirrors (three positions) Dual-stage driver / front passenger front airbags; Front occupant side airbags; Head protection airbags for front and rear occupants Powerfold exterior heated mirrors; Heated rear screen Automatic front and rear temperature control Organic Electroluminescent (OEL) displays Trip computer and Cruise control Bluetooth� telephone preparation   Satellite navigation system  Auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror Front and rear parking sensors Alarm and immobiliser; Remote-control central door locking and boot release Tracking device; LED map-reading lights; Boot-mounted umbrella

In Car Entertainment

1000 W Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system with ICEpower� technology includes six-CD autochanger (4) Integrated Apple iPod� connector (5) USB Connector with Waveform Audio Format (WAF), Windows Media Audio (WMA) and MPEG (MP3) audio file compatibility 3.5 mm auxiliary input socket

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