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Having It All

Howard Walker

   There’ll come a time when James Bond will need to hand back the Walther PPK, the MI6-issued Omega Seamaster and the License to Kill and get hitched, have a couple of rugrats and settle down. The current 007, Daniel Craig, is 45, for goodness’ sake. Arthritis and AARP are surely just around the corner.
   Of course, with matrimonial bliss come spatial needs. It’s no good thundering around in a classic ’60s two-seater—even one with machine guns and ejector seats—when there are baby seats to fit.

Aston Martin Rapide S - four-door supercar

   Assuming Bond will always drive an Aston Martin, his new vehicle of choice can only be one model: the four-door Rapide. Lucky for him, there’s a refreshed version—the 2014 Rapide S—that could be dropped off at Q-Branch right away. Naturally, it would be painted Skyfall Silver, like the car we’re driving.
Aston Martin Rapide S   The only criticism of the original Rapide, which debuted in 2010, was its shortage of muscle. While 470 horsepower may seem plenty potent to mere mortals, in the rarified world of supercars, only 500-plus ponies will do.
   For 2014, the Rapide gets the latest version of Aston’s fabled 5.9-liter V-12—first seen on the new Vanquish—with a robust 550 horsepower. Now, when you squeeze the throttle, zero-to-60 acceleration is dispensed in 4.7 seconds, a full half-second faster than before. That’s more like it.
   But this new $199,950 Rapide S is so much more than a V-12 engine on steroids. This car is even more deliciously gorgeous than the original. The front has been resculpted and rehoned with a bigger, more dramatic version of that iconic grille, while the rear has a larger “ducktail” spoiler to improve aerodynamics. Is it the most beautiful four-door in the world? I’d say so.
   We’ve come to the Emporda region of Spain, birthplace of artist Salvador Dali and an easy 90-minute amble east of Barcelona, to put this newest Aston through its paces. Here, the roads are fast, empty and curvier than a bowl of fusilli pasta. To awaken the Aston, like the last model, insert the chunk of crystal that doubles as an ignition key into its slot on the dashboard. Press once, and prepare for the aural thrill as the big V-12 erupts into life.
   This must be one of the great pleasures of Rapide S ownership: to know each time you caress the crystal, your pulse will quicken and every hair on the back of your neck will stand to attention.
   The Jekyll and Hyde character of the Aston is that in Drive mode, it will cruise as serenely and sedately as your neighbor’s Lexus. The six-speed automatic shifts gears with lazy fluidity. The ride is magic carpet smooth; noise levels are hushed.

Aston Martin Rapide S - four-door supercar - V-12

   Now punch the Sport button. Valves in the exhaust system open wide to let the full force of those 12 cylinders exhale uninterrupted. Response from the transmission becomes light-switch immediate, and the whole car comes alive.
Interior of the Aston Martin Rapide S   Around those Catalan curves, the Rapide corners as if running on invisible tracks. This S model features Aston’s new three-mode Adaptive Damping System that offers the choice of Normal, Sport and Track modes. Sport provides the perfect blend of no-roll cornering with a ride that’s supercar-firm, yet won’t loosen your dental work.
   From behind the wheel, it’s like driving inside a Prada handbag. The hand-stitched leather is bespoke craftsmanship at its best; the metal finishes exquisite; the standard Bang & Olufsen sound system worthy of a rock star’s penthouse.
   And ignore the complaints about the Rapide’s lack of rear-seat space. Yes, it’s tight back there for the long of limb, but it’s far from uncomfortable. And the main point here is the Rapide offers seats for four while still looking like a slim, sexy, gorgeous sports car. You can’t say that about a Porsche Panamera.
   James Bond will ease quite nicely into eventual fatherhood with a Rapide S. Perhaps “Q” can design him a couple of kiddy seats.

Aston Martin Rapide S four-door supercar test drive and automotive review

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February 2015