Pictures from Rallye Monte Carlo Historique leave TG.com lusting for fast French ‘minis.
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The Top Gear car review:Aston Martin Rapide S
For:It’s very gorgeous and very fast and drives beautifully too
Against:It's only an occasional four-seater
V12  4dr Touchtronic III Auto
What we say:
Four-door four-seater from Britain's best-known Kuwaiti-owned supercar manufacturer
What is it?
A DB9 which someone held the button on the extrusion machine for too long. The result? A gorgeous five-metre long, four-door Aston Martin, which might add little in the way of real usable space in the rear, but takes up more space parked in Casino Square in Monte Carlo. Unquestionably elegant, the Rapide also possesses the power to match it. It’s now built in Britain which should give the range a fillip – spot these new improved Rapide S models from their Vanquish-style grille and generally more sporting and focused demeanour.
It has a V12 under the bonnet: even more exciting, it has an improved V12 in ‘S’ guise, nicked from the Vanquish and now producing 558bhp. It makes a truly wondrous noise and goes hard too.
The Rapide’s additional length does wonders for the ride comfort, while the steering is quick and clear. It’s very easy to forget that you’re driving something with a couple of seats behind you, which given they’ll rarely be occupied does make it seem a bit pointless.
The thing is it’s one of Aston’s best steering and most comfortable driving cars. The steering’s weighting is near perfect and clever adaptive dampers neatly balance comfort and control. Aston has basically given it a full makeover and concentrated round of honing, to make it better than before and thus a very appealing alternative to the usual four-door fare.
On the inside
Sitting low and laid back in its cockpit you’re surrounded by fine materials lovingly fitted by craftsmen and women. Only a few parts-share buttons and stalks let down the otherwise unique cabin, and the satnav is now much less hopeless than it was. There’s no more space for the back seats, though. Even getting in is tricky. Four doors maybe, but saloon alternative it is not.
The boot’s sizeable and its hatchback opening means you can cram a decent amount in there. The seatbacks fold too, though we doubt that you’ll be doing any trips to B&Q in it. See it instead as a two-seat DB9 estate.
Running costs go out the window in this sector, which is just as well as anything handbuilt with a 6.0-litre V12 is never going to be inexpensive to run. You’ll not care when you’re in it and petrol’s still way cheaper than decent champagne – it’ll do 19mpg (officially). You could argue it’ll make good sense financially in the long run, as you can empty your garage of any other supercars and saloons. Sports cars are for new money oiks. The Rapide is for gents who appreciate its near perfect blend of sports car agility and saloon car comfort – so long as you’re not in the back.