Sliding the glass-capped key fob into the dash fires up the Aston Martin Rapide’s gently growling V12, and clicking the leather-wrapped magnesium paddle shifter readies the 48-valve 350-kW powerplant for effortless forward motion.
There’s a sense of opulence to this new sedan that’s almost worth the high price (R1,5 million in the US). For this sleek vehicle, Aston stretched the DB9 platform 29 cm and inserted a pair of rear seats decked out in sublime luxury. It’s a little tight back there for tall folk, but there’s no sense fretting over a few missing dm3. In the mountains of eastern Spain, the Rapide handled winding roads with crisp turn-in and strong grip that had seemed unlikely considering its plussize body. Impressively, this four-door’s ride was also supple – thanks to computer-controlled shocks – and the traction control gently halted easily achieved wheelspin. Double-paned glass offers a well-insulated bubble of peace even when you’re flogging the car near the 296 km/h top speed. An exhaust valve opens at high revs to fully release the V12’s bark. With six-piston front and four-piston rear callipers, stopping is as effortless as going. Awash in mahogany and aluminium trim, the interior feels quite royal. Don’t, however, expect miserly fuel use – figure between 14 and 22 litres/100 km