Contemporary review originally published in Examiner.com on March 1, 2011
The key looks like a crystal wrapped in an Aston Martin logo, like something used to open Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Fitted into an opening on the dash–a square peg into a square hole–the Aston Martin Rapide draws it in.
But solitude? Not necessarily. The Aston Martin Rapide is rightly famous even before delivery for being the first four-door four-seat Aston Martin, much anticipated and the subject of much concern. Our worries about its look and feel were lessened when we saw the car in person in New York, and were able to walk around, touch it and be cosseted in its leather chairs.
Yet there’s no real test of any automobile, especially one of the league of Aston Martin, as in driving. That is, after all, the purpose. Garages can wait.
So when we were offered the wheel, we said yes.
We were not to be disappointed.
The Aston Martin Rapide, as we have discussed earlier, is certainly of the Aston Martin tradition. It is based on the same “Vertical/Horizontal” architecture as the Aston Martin DB9, longer but not lengthened. One recoils at using “New Jersey stretch limo” in the same sentence as Aston Martin, even if in vigorous denial.
But the details large and small are there, from suspension to its V-12 engine, and we’ve already detailed them, and we’ve kept you waiting long enough.
“It’s very easy to get comfortable in the car”, our notes say. Indeed, the leather is soft and the seats supportive and find themselves right where we want them to be without much thinking about it.
Our Aston Martin Rapide fires effortlessly and with a push of a button, drive is selected. There are four large round buttons across the top of the center stack, two–marked “P” and “R” to the left of the Fortress of Solitude key–and two to the right, marked “N” and “D”. Press D and one expects a butler to arrive with Drive on a silver platter. Thank you, Jeeves. I’ll take over the shifting from here with the wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Though don’t go too far. I may need a “P” or perhaps an “R”.
The Aston Martin Rapide is remarkably quiet on backstreets but pulling out on the main road, there’s a burst of melodious exhaust as the revs rise. It’s an exhaust baffle opening, the quieter closed position needed to pass stringent EU noise laws. That’s well enough, but when the transmission shifts up, the exhaust note gets quiet again. And it repeats in the next gear. Soft, loud, soft, loud, soft… It’s annoying.
There are three ways to prevent it: A, drive so gingerly the baffles never open; B, keep the revs up so the baffles never close. Or C, there’s a fuse if pulled will deactivate the system with the baffles open. As if Aston Martin hadn’t thought of it.
The Aston Martin Rapide’s ride is supple and soft, not flaccid but well controlled. We didn’t get to truly toss it about but on our cloverleaf skidpad, the Rapide smoothed the broken pavement like latex and was just as sticky. Without even thinking about a sweat, the Aston Martin developed lateral g’s that few owners will attempt.
Accelerate? Jeeves, some velocity please. Thank you, Jeeves. He’s really good, that Jeeves. He brings 90 mph while most butlers are fumbling with 60 mph. Or less. And then of course there’s the sound of that V-12 at work.
We had no passengers in the back seat when we drove the Aston Martin Rapide. We’re certain that if there had been two extra Bond girls in our test Rapide–and our front seat passenger had been a Bond girl also–we’d have noticed. As it was, the Rapide acted like a coupe: two tickets to paradise, two seats, no waiting, and just under two hundred thou–$199,950. Except there are four doors, four seats.
So, Fortress of Solitude? Not with four aboard. But Superman? Well, you can wear the cape, but we think it’s a little over the top, even when driving an Aston Martin Rapide.
The 2011 Aston Martin Rapide had a base price of $199,950, as if by adding $50–making the basic list $200,000–would make buyers say “that’s too much,” especially when the Rapide could come with just about any option the buyer could imagine. Aston Marting would surely oblige. According to Kelly Blue Book, a used 2011 Rapide has a value of $69,455, although on the Carfax site at the time of this posting a 3,500-mile 2014 Rapide was for sale for $109,900. The last Rapide was the 2019 Rapide AMR, going out with 580-hp from the 6.0-liter V-12, along with 465 lb-ft of torque, said to be good for a top speed of over 200 mph, for anyone with a salt flat or dry lake bed in the neighborhood.