2015 Aston Martin Rapide S review

It may have four seats, but Aston Martin's Rapide S is no mere sedan

Designed and engineered from passion, the Aston Martin Rapide S is a purpose-built work of automotive excellence.
Designed and engineered from passion, the Aston Martin Rapide S is a purpose-built work of automotive excellence.
Designed and engineered from passion, the Aston Martin Rapide S is a purpose-built work of automotive excellence.

Highs

  • That merciless V12 wail
  • Stunning silhouette
  • Incredible stability at speed
  • Lightning-quick gear changes
  • One of the coolest cockpits ever designed

Lows

  • Visibility can be an issue
  • The infotainment system needs a refresh

DT Editors' Rating

To properly evaluate whether Aston Martin’s Rapide S is more than just a gorgeous figure, you need to understand the purpose of its inception. When the UK automaker first introduced the production version Rapide in 2010, it came with a disclaimer: this was a four-door sports car, not a sedan. As such, to compare the Rapide S to high-performance sedans from Germany and Japan is to miss the point entirely.

Fortunately, just about every feature of the 2015 Rapide S clarifies the above, from the low-slung stance, to the coupe silhouette, to the four individual sport bucket seats, to the driving dynamics; each element communicates that the vehicle’s driving experience and aesthetics lead the charge.

Related link: Aston Martin Plans Tesla Model S Rival With 800 HP Rapide EV

For 2015, Aston Martin has complemented the model’s updated design (freshened in 2014) with a heartier dose of performance via a retuned V12 engine and a quick-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic. As a result, the Rapide S is both a more enjoyable daily driver and enthusiastic facilitator of speed.

Intrigue comes standard

To automotive enthusiasts, vehicles from all categories can serve as conversation pieces, but to the average Joe, it takes something truly remarkable to spur more than passing interest. Sure, any ol’ supercar can cause someone to double-take, but long-stares, furrowed brows, and unhinged jaws are reserved for vehicles that inspire questions.

Long-stares, furrowed brows, and unhinged jaws are reserved for vehicles that inspire questions.

Undoubtedly, the Rapide S’s exterior is enough to attract a crowd. It’s endless hood, prominent grille, elegant shape, 20-inch forged alloy wheels, and carbon fiber accents communicate its prestige and premium price, but unlike ostentatious supercars, the Rapide S looks exclusive without chest-extending flair.

During my time with the Aston Martin Rapide S, all manner of individuals approached the vehicle in parking lots, at gas stations, and in shopping center garages to satisfy their curiosity. Each person knew the four-door sports car was special, but most didn’t know quite what to make of it beyond the consensus that it was “beautiful.” Interestingly, almost as common as the “what is it” question was the “what do you do?” enquiry.

The frequency of the latter question initially took me by surprise, but as I considered the Rapide S’s unique market position, it became clear that the vehicle immediately made its owner just as intriguing. Who buys something with such specific functionality when there are more practical, versatile automobiles available? Consumers with appropriate funds can choose marginally quicker sedans, a faster sports car, or something with a more luxurious (and usable) interior, but to some, the Rapide S offers indescribable allure.

Aston Martin’s grand tourer delivers a visceral V12, fighter jet interior, and sensuous curves that attracts owners who understand the passion behind its creation and therefore must live with similar passion in their own lives and careers.

Grand touring with G Force

It’s impossible to ignite the Rapide S’s 6.0-liter V12 without experiencing a small shudder of excitement. The infamously sensuous V12 sounds just as sweet with an extra pair of doors and seats between you and the exhaust ports. Aston Martin pushed its engine as far back as possible to achieve a near perfect 49:51 weight distribution, but as an added benefit, you feel as if your feet are resting on top of the monstrous powerplant, sending chills up your spine.

The visceral V12, fighter jet interior, and sensuous curves attract owners who understand the passion behind its creation.

As the revs build towards the Rapide S’s 6,650 rpm redline, the exhaust opens to release one of the sweetest engine notes I’ve ever heard. Under normal driving conditions, the ZF eight-speed (Touchtronic III) gearbox works to conserve fuel while intelligently giving the operator access to enough power for sudden bursts of acceleration. Should you require more performance, or if you just feel the need to express yourself via the Aston’s V12, enabling “Sport” mode holds onto each gear and hastens throttle response considerably. 0 to 60 mph happens in an efficient 4.2 seconds on its way to an impressive 203 mph top speed. The Rapide S’s fierce acceleration is due in part to the trim-for-its-size curb weight of 4,378 pounds.

Should you find yourself hurtling towards a corner, fear not. The Rapide S comes equipped with 400 mm six-piston front and 360 mm four-piston rear brake calipers to put the kibosh on forward momentum. Once you’ve shed unwanted speed, you can begin to enjoy one of the most stable suspension setups available. Double wishbones front and rear plant the Rapide S as G forces mount, while the “Servotronic” hydraulic steering perfectly communicates how the tires are behaving mid-corner.

From within the cabin, all four occupants are comfortably nestled in independent tightly-bolstered sport buckets. Driver and front passenger can program their own climate preferences while rear-seat occupants must reach a compromise. Full-sized adults will have a tough go of it in the back seats on long trips, but as a six-foot male, I managed to fit with enough head and leg room behind my own driver seat position.

2015 Aston Martin Rapide S
Miles Branman/Digital Trends
Miles Branman/Digital Trends

Though I might suggest choosing different companions, should your rear passengers prefer alternate entertainment than a 552-horsepower, 465 pound-feet of torque V12, a dual-monitor rear seat entertainment system is available. All four occupants are also treated to heated seats, with ventilated functionality available for added investment. Standard is a leather-rich interior complemented by piano-black accents, carbon fiber trim pieces, and brushed aluminum. The infotainment system does feel outdated, with a smaller, limited-function screen, but controlling the system is fairly straightforward. Audiophiles will appreciate the Bang & Olufsen sound system, with 12 speakers that deliver 600 watts of premium sound.

In its most supple suspension setting, the Aston Martin Rapide S is smooth and stable at any speed. A press of the adaptive dampers button settles the sports car and tightens the handling. Inside, the ride never harsh, but I found few excuses to enlist the taut suspension mode during street driving; the standard drive mode is more than capable of handling aggressive curves.

When cruising, expect the Rapide S to return 14 mpg city and 22 mph highway fuel economy averages, which can be attributed to the smartly-tuned transmission’s gear-mapping. Pulling even 17 miles per gallon from a 6.0-liter V12 is a feat.

The price of passion

It’s clear the Aston Martin Rapide S has been built by a team of passionate designers and engineers, and their labor doesn’t come cheap. The 2015 Rapide S starts at $203,295, which is far more than perhaps its only rival, the $141,300 Porsche Panamera Turbo. Though the Panamera can match the Rapide S in terms of performance, there just isn’t any comparison  to the Aston’s styling or character.

Those considering grand touring two-doors from Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolls Royce might find the Rapide S is the right blend of performance and styling. Similarly, super-sedan buyers who are willing to sacrifice some utility may appreciate the Rapide S’s sports car-bred properties.

Ultimately, the Aston Martin Rapide S is an expression of aesthetic beauty, tremendous power, and individuality that has been designed by and for those who appreciate its handcrafted appeal. It’s a four-door sports car without excuses for owners who do without them as well.

Highs

  • That merciless V12 wail
  • Stunning silhouette
  • Incredible stability at speed
  • Lightning-quick gear changes
  • One of the coolest cockpits ever designed

Lows

  • Visibility can be an issue
  • The infotainment system needs a refresh
Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Cars

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.