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New Rapide shoots its mouth off, with 555BPH

The Aston Martin Rapide wasn’t the most rapid of super saloons, but Gaydon has changed all that by adding the letter S to the name...

  • Power has jumped up 17 per cent as the beefedup 6.0-litre V12 engine now produces 550bhp. Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • New options include the piano black interior pack, and two-tone perforated red and black leather. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Even though the super saloon market is heaving with choices, nearly every car in this segment is somewhat flawed. Take the Porsche Panamera Turbo S — blistering pace but it looks like a mutated whale. The Bentley Continental Flying Spur is too soft. Ditto for the Rolls-Royce Ghost. While the new Maserati Quattroporte isn’t on sale here yet, the old one is, well, too old.

That leaves the Aston Martin Rapide. Granted it looks and sounds superb, but at 5.2 seconds to 100kph it’s just two-tenths quicker than a V6 Cadillac ATS. In other words, it’s slow.

But with a new version waiting in the wings, Rapide owners will no longer have to worry about being burned off at the lights by a briskly walking pedestrian. Enter the Rapide S.

It still packs the same 6.0-litre V12, but thanks to a new cylinder block, heads, intake and exhaust systems it’s more rev-happy than ever. Consequently the power leaps to 550bhp — 80 more than before — while peak torque of 620Nm kicks in steadfastly at lower engine speeds than before. All that is good news and the Rapide now hits 100kph from standstill in a respectable 4.9 seconds. Top speed has been upped to 306kph.

To handle the 17 per cent increase in grunt, the transmission has been updated as is the stability control system, while the revised adaptive damping system from the DB9 offers three modes: comfort, sport and track. The new Rapide is also torsionally stiffer and that massive V12 now sits 19mm lower in the aluminium body improving balance and agility.

As is customary with every new car, CO2 emissions are down — from 335g/km to 332g/km — and fuel economy is upped to 12 litres-per-100km.

Finally, the styling changes. The new grille, although undeniably Aston, is notably bigger — perhaps even disproportionately so — and gives the fascia, at least to our eyes, a faintly gormless grin. A problem that can be somewhat remedied with the optional carbon-fibre pack, which adds a bigger front splitter to draw attention away from that maw. All in all though, it’s still one of the best-looking cars in its class and is hardly likely to make small children sick.

Interiors, too, get a new piano black trim option and Aston claims that the cabin is now better insulated to keep NVH out.

Considering that this is just a mid-life refresh, it’s a noble effort from Aston. Is it the perfect super saloon in its class? You’d think so: it definitely has the biggest mouth.