Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:41 AM
As midlife facelift revisions go, this one’s pretty comprehensive. Yes, the new Aston Martin Rapide S – Aston’s 4-door now gets an S after its name – receives the obligatory new front grille, said to be more assertive, and huge, but it also gets a new engine to shout about. A big motor is key to the animal attraction of all things Aston.
It’s the same size – at a healthy 6-litres of V-shaped petrol quaffing, all-aluminium goodness – but from the outside, the new AM11 engine has been dropped by an extra 19mm deeper into the engine bay, in a bid to lower the new car’s centre of gravity.
On the inside, the new V12 benefits from Aston’s more recent racing success experience, with a useful trickle down of tech from the racetrack. For example, the AM11 engine uses CNC machined (computer honed) combustion chambers for best shaping for purest burning of fuel and air, as well as lighter, hollow camshafts that are variably controlled for timing.
Another racy addition is a knock sensor which keeps an eye on the combustion process to make sure that this high performance, high compression engine isn’t running too lean (too little fuel for the power requested; very bad) or too rich (too much fuel with the waste going out of the exhaust).
All of the racing-ready good stuff punts power, torque and economy all in the right direction. Upwards! Power from the new engine beats the outgoing V12 by some extra 80bhp; from 470bhp to 550bhp, while torque grows from 600Nm to 620Nm, delivered at 5,000 rpm. However, probably more importantly, there’s more useful torque to be had from the bottom of the rev range, with an extra 40Nm between idle and 4,000 rpm, and an additional 50Nm from 2,500rpm.
While many Aston owners are unlikely to lose much sleep over the price of super unleaded, Aston Martin as a company must continually trim their gross CO2 output to meet European regulations. The new V12 trims emissions by seven per cent, from 355g/km of CO2 to 332g/km. Fuel economy is 19.9mpg on the official EU tested combined cycle.
Power is king under the hood, but carbon fibre reigns supreme outside. A new optional Carbon Exterior Pack features the black woven gold for the front splitter, rear diffuser, mirror cases and taillight infills, all handmade from this lightest and strongest of motorsport materials.
Of course, this four-seater is really all about the rear seat passengers arriving in the lap of luxury, and while the driver will enjoy an engine that powers the Rapide S to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds, and onto 190mph, those back-seat-boys are not forgotten.
A new piano black interior pack adds a big dash of the grand to the new Rapide’s interior, with the dark mirror finish featuring across the dashboard facia, transmission tunnel centre plate and door handles. There’s plenty of soft, sculpted leather liberally adorning the four separate seats, as well as a twin screen rear seat entertainment system with wireless headphones, remote control and six-disc DVD changer.
The new Aston Martin Rapide S goes on sale next month and will cost in the region of £150,000, with a full pricing structure to be confirmed.
By Daniel Anslow