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Aston Martin Rapide Saloon engines, drive and performance

2010 - 2021 (change model)
Performance rating: 4.4 out of 54.4

Written by Parkers Experts Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

  • Massive V12 motor defines the drive
  • Linear power delivery and soulful noise
  • Eight-speed gearbox is quick and accurate

Aston Martin Rapide: what engines does it have?

Choosing an engine for your Aston Martin Rapide is an easy (although a bit restrictive) process because there’s only one on offer – a 5.9-litre V12.

Sonorous V12 engine

For some time now this massive 12-cylinder motor has come to define the Aston Martin experience. Few manufacturers (Italian supercars aside) offer a naturally aspirated, large-displacement engine like this.

Rivals like the Porsche Panamera may offer a similar amount of power to the 560hp you get in the Rapide S, but none serve it up in such a deliciously smooth, linear way.

While the turbocharged Porsche hits you hard in the back, the Aston Martin just gathers alluring pace until the rev-counter needle hits the redline. It’s a much more refined experience that your passengers will enjoy, plus it makes it easier to control the car mid-corner.

Big motor thrives on revs

Peak power comes in at a lofty 6,650rpm, while 620Nm of torque arrives at 5,500rpm. The unusually long-travel throttle pedal makes it easy to modulate, and feels wonderfully satisfying to flatten into the carpet, accompanied by a metallic howl that gets louder and louder as the speed increases.

Aston Martin Rapide S exhaust

Unusually for a car with a 203mph top speed, the Rapide S feels very alive at lower velocities – perhaps its best feature is how much fun you can have without risking your licence.

It’s quick off the line too – 0-62mph drops in a mere 4.4 seconds thanks to the rapid-firing eight-speed Touchtronic III automatic gearbox, which swaps ratios in the blink of an eye.

This transmission is the same as you’ll find in the Aston Martin Vanquish and works well with the engine to make sure you’re always in the right gear. Both can be sharpened up by pressing the Sport mode button, or further still by taking control of the column-mounted paddles. Hold the left one while decelerating and the car will keep you in the best gear for when you need to get back on the gas.

Shadow Edition offers more power

In addition to the standard car you can pick the Shadow Edition which comes with 573hp. You also get a sports exhaust, which should turn the volume of the engine up to 11.

  • Well-judged handling offers comfort and sportiness
  • Hydraulic steering is weighty and full of feedback
  • Huge amount of mid-corner poise for a big car

Aston Martin Rapide: how does it drive?

Despite being pitched as a more relaxed grand tourer the Rapide still wears an Aston Martin badge and that means there’s an expectation of sportiness it needs to fulfil.

It does so remarkably well, virtually slimming down its two-tonne mass with agile handling that makes it seem like a much smaller car. The Rapide will reward a committed cornering speed with neutral poise, but if you go in slower the front wheels will protest first.

Fantastic steering

There’s a lovely mechanical feel to the hydraulic steering, which offers plenty of feedback, weight and accuracy, making you feel confident enough to push on after only a short time behind the wheel.

The flipside of this is a bit of kick-back through the wheel and a tendency to seek out cambers when you’re on a rough road, but this only goes to help build a picture of the asphalt below the wheels.

Three-stage active dampers do their best to iron out lumps and bumps and for the most part work very well. There’s no getting away from the firm, taut feeling to the chassis, so leaving the suspension in its Normal mode, rather than Sport or Track, helps it flow better over undulating surfaces.

Great feedback from brakes

The brakes offer lots of bite but are progressive enough to modulate easily, plus if you delve into the various traction control modes there’s a setting with reduced ABS function for more experienced drivers. We did suffer from some grumbling when braking at low speeds, however.

For the most part you’ll want to leave the traction control on – this is a long and heavy car with plenty of power going to the back wheels and your passengers won’t enjoy watching you wrestling against massive oversteer.

The traction control will step in to tame the rear wheels early on corner exits but happily there’s a half-off Sport setting which lends the Rapide a bit more adjustability, if you’d rather have more of a say in the way the car reacts when you get back on the power.

All-in-all the Rapide is a really fabulously satisfying thing to either waft around in or drive quickly on your favourite road – you’ll soon forget all that extra metalwork looming behind you.