Aston Martin introduced the DB9-based Rapide in 2010 in order to add a four-door car to the company's sporting lineup. The Rapide name actually harks back to the Lagonda Rapide of the 1960s, another four-door saloon that was based on the Aston Martin DB4. Now, though, the new Rapide has been around for a few years and for 2013 Aston decided to give the car a facelift, which it debuted at the jam-packed Geneva Motor Show.
On the styling front, the most obvious change is the gaping mouth of the one-piece grille. This was probably inspired by the One-77, but somehow manages to look a little strange, a little too eager. No matter, the rest of the Rapide S (the "S" has been added by Aston in reference to the magnitude of their revisions) looks fantasic. Just like the old car, it has a graceful silhouette that is unrivalled by any of the other expensive sedans. In fact, you really have to look at it for a while before you realize that it even has four doors.
Mechanically, improvements on the Rapide S are more significant and more than make up for any surprising choices in the styling department. Horsepower from the hand-built 6.0 liter V-12 now numbers a claimed 558, way up from last year's 470, while peak torque has climbed from 443 ft/lbs to 457. Mated to the engine is a six-speed Touchtronic transmission, which basically gives the driver the choice of automatic or paddle shifters. Sixty should come in 4.7 seconds and, if pushed, the Rapide S will supposedly do 190 miles per hour. Aston's luxury sedan also now sits lower to the ground in an effort to improve handling, while the interior is still as beautifully finished as you would expect from an Aston Martin. Room in the back still is not as generous as it is in other cars in other similarly sized cars, but it's a small price to pay for a genuinely usable sedan from this legendary carmaker.
What is not a small price to pay is, well, the actual price. The Rapide S, slated for 2014, will start at around $200,000, a lot more than even the most loaded versions of its closest competitors, the Maserati Quattroporte and the Porsche Panamera. Of course, people will make fun of you if you drive a Panamera, but when looking at price sheets a Quattroporte S, arguably a car that is just as pretty as the Rapide, suddenly seems a bit tempting. Whatever the difference is in dollars between the two, though, the Rapide really is just that much more car. It offers more power, more exclusivity, and more craftsmanship. Aston Martin is celebrating its hundredth birthday in 2013, and with cars like the Rapide S and the new Vanquish (also introduced this year), hopefully they will be around for another hundred.