The 'S' probably stands for "Sport," as the new Rapide's most significant upgrade is under the bonnet where Aston's V12 has been poked and prodded to produce 550 horsepower, a stout 80 more units of equine oomph than last year's model. Torque is likewise up 14 pound-feet to 457 at 5,000 rpm. Performance has improved in turn, with the Rapide S now able to reach 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds compared to 5.1 seconds before and its top speed climbing to 190 mph.
All 6.0 liters of the Rapide's engine now sit 19 millimeters lower than before, which aids handling along with the car's new adaptive suspension, tagged with the inspiring moniker of "Adaptive Damping System." ADS offers drivers three settings: Normal, Sport and Track, the latter of which implies the Rapide S will be able make the most of its newfound power.
Of course, if the Rapide is known for anything, it's the car's devastatingly good looks, and Aston has been somewhat careful here so as not to alter a curve the wrong way and ruin the Rapide's main selling point. What has changed is the grille, which grows in size and shrinks in number to just a single gaping maw. While still the face of a super model, Aston Martin won't be shaking the comparison to recent Ford designs with this one. There's also a subtle reworking of the car's rear decklid, but otherwise the Rapide S is as stunning as it always was, and a new Carbon Exterior Pack will add those precious fibers to all the major exterior trim pieces.
Aston has spared the interior from much change, instead offering a new piano black interior pack and debuting Duotone perforated red and black leather in the Rapide S.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but Aston Martin says the new Rapide S will be available to order worldwide next month. We're pretty sure its price tag will remain above $200,000, though, so maybe the 'S' stands for "So Not Gonna Happen On My Salary."
• Rapide S is the most powerful four-door Aston Martin to date
• Peak output jumps 17% as new 6.0-litre V12 engine produces 550bhp
• More assertive new look emphasises Rapide S' sports car character
Gaydon, England - 23 January 2013 - 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.
Aside from the extensive design and engineering improvements, the luxurious new Rapide S – which replaces the outgoing Rapide in markets worldwide – is now even more refined thanks to a range of additions to the four-seater's sumptuous interior.
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.
Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ulrich Bez said: "The Rapide S is to me, without doubt, the most beautiful four-door sports car on the market today. This is, very clearly, the power of luxury in action.
"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 80 bhp from 470 bhp at 6,000 rpm to a now very substantial 550 bhp at 6,750 rpm.
Peak torque increases, too, up from 443 lb.ft (600 Nm) to 457 lb.ft (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 30 lb ft (40 Nm) between idle and 4,000 rpm with an additional 37 lb ft (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 0.4 seconds off its 0-60 mph time, which drops from the 5.1 seconds of the current car to just 4.7 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 if peak power and torque, the Rapide S is appreciably more economical than before. European 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 (US data to be confirmed).
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 mood and 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.
First class cabin
As luxurious as it is thrilling, the new car now boasts a host of new luxury- or sports- orientated options, allowing buyers to more precisely tailor the car to their specific style.
The new optional Carbon Exterior Pack, for instance, immediately dials up the Rapide's sporting attitude. Front splitter, rear diffuser, mirror caps and rear lamp infills all fashioned from carbon fibre clearly signal the sporting nature of this 550 bhp four-seater.
More pronounced luxury, on the other hand, comes from the new piano black interior pack that adds a deep, rich, mirror-like shine to the facia, transmission tunnel centre plate and door handles of the Rapide S. A darker surround in the instrument binnacle and steering wheel with black horn-push surround round off the pack's sumptuous additions. Luxurious blend headlinings in either tan or grey emphasise the luxury still further inside.
As would be expected of a modern Aston Martin, handcrafting is the order of the day in the Rapide S with the standard-fit pure glass transmission selector switches in the centre console one small yet important example of the truly authentic, bespoke, nature of the car's cabin.
However those with a desire for a more sporting ambience in their sports car will not be disappointed. Optional Duotone perforated red and black leather makes its Aston Martin debut here – delivering a captivating visual combination that's unique to the new Rapide S.
Luxury is enhanced by the removal of extraneous 'noise' and the enhancement of desirable 'sound' – a fine distinction but one that helps the new car deliver an aural experience like no other. Improved NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) characteristics are derived from the likes of the new bonnet lining and revised windscreen cowl.
Flexibility comes in the form of four seats – the rearmost two capable of accommodating adults in a uniquely sporting setting – while at the touch of a button the individual back seats fold down to almost triple the Aston Martin's load space.
Options to further enhance the luxurious look and feel of the Rapide S include, subject to market, a reversing camera and twin screen rear seat entertainment system with wireless headphones, remote control and six-disc DVD changer.
Those seeking the ultimate in luxury and personalisation can also consider the 'Q by Aston Martin' service which offers uniquely-tailored options for individualisation. The Q service focuses on fashioning colour and materials with limitless boundaries precisely to customer choice and specification, enabling owners to give free rein to the creativity and indulge their desire for bespoke luxury.
The new Aston Martin Rapide S will be available to order through the brand's 146 dealers worldwide next month with prices confirmed closer to the on-sale date.
Aston Martin Rapide S Specification
• Four-door sports car with four seats
• Extruded bonded aluminium VH body structure
• Aluminium, magnesium alloy and composite body
• Extruded aluminium door side-impact beams
• Single bi-xenon headlamps with integrated LED side lights and direction
• Clear LED rear lamps
• All-alloy, quad overhead camshaft, 48 valve, 5,935cc, V12
• Front mid-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive
• Fully catalysed stainless steel exhaust system with active bypass valves Max power: 550 bhp (558 PS) at 6,750 rpm
Max torque: 457 lb ft (620 Nm) at 5,500 rpm
Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds
Max speed: predicted 190 mph (306 km/h)
• Rear mid-mounted 'Touchtronic 2' six-speed transmission with electronic shift-by- wire control system
• Alloy torque tube with carbon fibre propeller shaft
• Limited slip differential
• Final drive ratio 3.46:1
Wheels & Tyres
• 20-inch, 20-spoke, silver painted alloy wheels
• Front wheel: 8.5J x 20-inch
• Rear wheel: 11J x 20-inch
• Front tyre: Bridgestone Potenza 245/35 ZR20
• Rear tyre: Bridgestone Potenza 295/30 ZR20
• Tyre repair kit
Length: 197.6'' (5019mm)
Wheelbase: 117.7'' (2989mm)
Front Track: 62.6'' (1589mm)
Rear Track: 63.5'' (1613mm)
Width: 84.3'' (2140mm) (inc. mirrors) 75.9'' (1929mm) (exc. mirrors)
Fuel tank capacity: 19.9 Imp.galls, 23.9 US galls (90.5 litres)
Height: 53.5'' (1360mm)
Weight: 4387lb (1990 kg)
• Rack and pinion, servotronic speed-sensitive power-assisted steering, 3.0 turns lock-to-lock
• Column tilt and reach adjustment
• Front: dual cast discs, 398 mm diameter with six-piston monobloc calipers
• Rear: dual cast discs, 360 mm diameter with four-piston monobloc calipers
• Grey painted brake calipers
• Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with track mode
• Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
• Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
• Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
• Traction Control (TC)
• Three Stage Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with Normal, Sport and Track modes
• Front: independent double wishbones incorporating anti-dive geometry, coil springs, anti-roll bar and monotube adaptive dampers
• Rear: independent double wishbones with anti-squat and anti-lift geometry, coil springs, anti-roll bar and monotube adaptive dampers
• Full-grain leather interior
• Walnut facia trim with graphite centre console finish and iridium silver surround
• Leather sports steering wheel
• Electrically adjustable front seats with side airbags
• Memory front seats & exterior mirrors (three positions)
• Dual-stage driver/front passenger front airbags
• Front occupant side airbags
• Powerfold exterior heated mirrors
• Heated front and rear seats
• Heated rear screen
• Automatic temperature control
• Organic Electroluminescent (OEL) displays
• Trip computer
• Cruise control
• Bluetooth® telephone preparation1
• Satellite navigation1,2
• Auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror
• Auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror with garage door opener (USA and
Canada only) 1
• Satellite radio system (USA only) 1
• Front and rear parking sensors
• Tyre pressure monitoring system1
• Alarm and immobiliser
• Remote-control central door locking and boot release
• Glass ECU
• Tracking device1,3 (UK only)
• LED map-reading lights
• Boot-mounted umbrella
• 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system with ICEpower® technology
• Integrated Apple iPod®,4 connector
• USB Connector with Waveform Audio Format (WAF), Windows Media Audio
(WMA) and MPEG (MP3) audio file compatibility
• 3.5 mm auxiliary input socket
• 20-inch multi-spoke alloy gloss black painted wheels with diamond turned finish
• 20-inch ten-spoke alloy silver painted wheels with diamond-turned finish
• 20-inch ten-spoke alloy black painted wheels with diamond-turned finish
• 20-inch 20-spoke polished alloy wheels
• Alternative brake caliper finish – black, red, or silver
• Magnum Silver rear lamp infills
• Delete model badge
• Delete protective tape
• Carbon Exterior Pack
• Optional facia trims - Piano Black, bamboo, tamo ash, mahogany
• Piano Black Pack
• Matching wood door trim
• Personalised sill plaques
• Semi-aniline leather
• Duotone black and red perforated leather
• Colour-keyed steering wheel
• Embroidered Rapide S seat logo
• Carbon Interior Pack
• Twin-screen rear-seat entertainment system with six-disc DVD player, auxiliary
input, wireless headphones and remote control
• Auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror with garage door opener 1
• Alarm upgrade (volumetric and tilt sensor)
• Ventilated front and rear seats
• Smoker's pack (ashtray and cigar lighter)
• Second glass key
• Tracking device (UK category five)1,3
• First-aid kit
1 Not available in all markets
2 Includes Traffic Messaging Channel (TMC) in Continental Europe
3 Complies with UK Thatcham Category 5 requirements. Excludes subscription. Standard in UK
4 iPod is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries