Rapide S, most powerful four-door Aston Martin to date
The stunning new Aston Martin Rapide S is making its debut with yet more luxury and yet more power on offer in its quintessentially elegant four-door silhouette.
The iconic British car maker’s new luxury GT has been sympathetically redesigned and painstakingly re-engineered to reassert its position as the world’s most beautiful, and beautifully balanced, four-seat sports car.
Still instantly recognisable as an Aston Martin, of course, the new Rapide S now boasts an imposing and assertive new ‘face’, created by virtue of the impressive and striking new full grille.
Imbuing the new car with an even more sporting, forceful demeanour, the revised front end design is matched at the back by a striking new rear deck profile which includes a more pronounced boot lid ‘flip’. The aerodynamic and aesthetic upgrades both reinforce the sporting nature of new Rapide S and work to counteract lift at higher speeds.
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“The car’s stunning visual appeal is now matched by a much more powerful and yet more efficient engine – our exceptional new AM11 V12 – which increases massively both the excitement and performance potential of the Rapide S.
“It is a four-door sports car that uniquely combines luxury, style and sporting excitement in Aston Martin’s most flexible and accommodating silhouette. Purity of proportion and exceptional elegance are mixed with truly sensational dynamic performance – this is the four-door sports car in its most versatile form and I am sure our customers around the world are going to love it!”
Engineered to excel
Changes under the new Rapide’s skin are comprehensive, with a version of the new AM11 naturally-aspirated 6.0-litre V12 powerplant delivering unprecedented power and improved in-gear acceleration.
Power from the new engine jumps significantly versus that of its predecessor: up by 17% or a massive 81 PS from 477 PS at 6,000 rpm to a now very substantial 558 PS at 6,750 rpm.
Peak torque increases, too, up from 600 Nm to 620 Nm at 5,000 rpm. Meanwhile an even more marked improvement in torque occurs lower down the rev range, as pulling power rises by more than 40 Nm between idle and 4,000 rpm with an additional 50 Nm available at 2,500 rpm.
Naturally, increases in power and torque lead to even swifter performance as befits a four-door sports car. New Rapide S shaves 0.3 seconds off its 0-62 mph time, which drops from the 5.2 seconds of the current car to just 4.9 seconds for the new model. Top speed climbs, meanwhile, to 190 mph.
The 5,935 cc naturally aspirated V12 boasts race car technology – developments derived directly from Aston Martin Racing’s successful WEC GT campaign – to maximise both performance and efficiency. The new AM11 engine thus boasts fully CNC machined combustion chambers and lighter, hollow, cam shafts.
Dual variable camshaft timing, knock sensing, even the fully catalysed stainless steel exhaust system – these are all engineering advances developed to preserve the V12’s position as a mainstay of the Aston Martin range.
The engine is now even more efficient, too. Despite the very significant increase in peak power and torque, the Rapide S is appreciably more economical than before. CO2 emissions drop by seven per cent – from 355 g/km to 332 g/km – while fuel economy now stands at 19.9 mpg on the official EU combined cycle.
A product of the latest generation of Aston Martin’s world-renowned VH engineering philosophy, which debuted in 2003, the new car of course benefits from many elements of the current Gen4 VH architecture.
The carefully conceived engineering changes continue as the new Rapide now offers even sharper agility and even quicker responses to driver input. The new AM11 engine – a key Gen4 component – has been lowered by 19 mm versus the position of the powerplant in the previous car, with a corresponding reduction in the sports car’s centre of gravity.
The changes also lead to a tangible improvement in front end turn-in – no mean feat for a car that was already acknowledged as a leader in dynamic performance.
Aston Martin engineers at the company’s global HQ in Gaydon have worked to revise the car’s dynamic stability control (DSC) in line with its significant increases in both power and torque.
As befits the more sporting nature of new Rapide S the car benefits from the latest Gen4 iteration of Aston Martin’s hi-tech Adaptive Damping System (ADS). The system now offers three distinct settings: ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’, with the character of each being tailored to the nature of Rapide S.
The ADS automatically alters the suspension settings to ensure the driver has high levels of control at all times, with the ability to respond quickly to different driving conditions. The different damping modes help to significantly broaden the character of the Rapide S, adapting its set-up to suit the driver’s precise requirements. Thus it can be a luxurious GT car in Normal mode with the capacity to morph into a more assertive sports car in Sport and Track modes.
The damper settings are determined by an electronic control unit which takes sensor readings from the car’s systems, including throttle position, brake position, steering wheel rotation and vehicle speed. This data establishes the prevailing driving conditions and the demands the driver is making on the car.
Head of Product Development at Aston Martin, Ian Minards, explains: “Growing the power in a luxury sports car is all very well, but maximising control and ‘usability’ of that increased power is, just as much, the engineers’ challenge.
“Balance, poise and control are the keys to a successful sports car and the dynamic improvements we have made with Rapide S showcase our efforts to make this not just the most beautiful, but also the most beautifully balanced, car in its class.”
He added: “Transmission calibration, ADS refinement, braking capability and engine output optimisation are among the many ‘ingredients’ which the team here at Gaydon have used to create a sports car of unerring quality and excitement.”
Meanwhile, as with the new DB9, the new Rapide S achieves compliance with the latest European pedestrian protection regulations courtesy of its innovative new front grille design.
The lowered engine, new bonnet, new front bumper construction and new grille combine to deliver a uniquely innovative approach to pedestrian impact protection.
The patent-pending design – which features a unique ‘keystone’ construction – enables the grille to move rearwards on impact, whilst the central and outboard chin stiffeners give rigidity to the lower structure and support achievement of the leg impact regulations. Cut-outs on the front wing catwalks contribute to the achievement of the headform regulation.
The solution means Aston Martin can remain true to its design ethos, and avoid the use of plastic grilles and nose cone bumpers that stretch up in front of the bonnet.