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Aston Martin Rapide AMR represents the last of the old-school Astons and, with a naturally aspirated V12, is as charming as it always was.
  • First Drive

    Aston Martin Rapide AMR 2019 review

    Aston Martin Rapide AMR represents the last of the old-school Astons and, with a naturally aspirated V12, is as charming as it always was.
Matt Prior
27 March 2019

What is it?

The Aston Martin Rapide AMR is it, then. The once bold new era, heralded by the introduction of a vehicle platform called VH, which allowed about a dozen (similar) cars to be launched on the same architecture, draws to a close. It was the Bez of times, it was far from the worst of times.

But the new Aston Martin revolution is under way. And this Rapide, as outlandish as VH cars became, what with having four doors and four seats, is the last of the old line of cars to disappear. 

It’s going out in limited-run AMR specification. There’ll be 210 of them badged this way, with 35 extra horsepower and costing 45,450 extra pounds over a Rapide S, so 595bhp and £194,950. 

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You might find unregistered examples of the Vanquish S at dealers, but production of that has finished. These are the last VH cars. Production and some deliveries have already started, but you can still order and specify one, and you don’t have to have the racing-inspired day-glo highlights of the one photographed here. 

You will get carbon-ceramic brakes behind 21in wheels and AMR-specific tuning, turning what was Aston’s most laid-back GT car/four-door coupé/fastback saloon/family hatch/call it what you will into something more raucous.

You’ll also get, if you’re prepared to overlook the Valkyrie (which, for these purposes, I am) the last of the naturally aspirated V12s, the 6.0-litre-badged (actually 5935cc) stalwart which has provided sterling work, in various iterations, since its introduction in the DB7 Vantage of 1999. That was the first production Aston with a V12. Now you can’t imagine the Aston range without one.

What's it like?

As ever, the V12 drives the rear wheels, these days through an eight-speed automatic gearbox mounted at the rear, and a limited-slip differential. 

Those traits and a lengthy 2989mm wheelbase are what have lent the Rapide one of the nicest inherent chassis balances among super-saloons, or even some big GT cars, over which the Rapide was – and remains – more agile and deftly balanced. 

The Rapide’s kerb weight is 1995kg, which seems like a lot until you realise a Bentley Continental GT, despite having two fewer doors, weighs another quarter of a tonne. 

And even now, nine years after the Rapide’s first introduction, I don’t think there are many more cars of this weight and size that are more engaging or more agile to drive, or that hide their mass so well.

The AMR alterations to the chassis are pretty subtle. They add a firmness to the ride and a bit of extra body control. I might have preferred it as it was – this is a big saloon, after all – but it has been a while since I drove a standard one. The ride quality is still actually pretty good – a touch fidgety over small ripples, but never close to frighteningly harsh. 

And what’s still very much evident is that lovely balance. The steering’s smooth, pleasingly weighted and gains weight and road feel as you turn. At three turns between locks, it has anything from half to a full turn over some big cars, as they try fitting sharper steering to make them feel more agile. Not here. No hyperactivity, no active roll bars, air springs, rear steer. It just is what it is – straightforward, honest, with the smoothest of V12s and a clean gearshift – and frankly all the better for it.

If rivals have anything over the Rapide, it’s interiors that are roomier, and stuffed with lavish materials and world-class electronics systems – hence their weight. The old Aston navigation and entertainment are as baffling as they ever were, and the analogue dials never as clear as they should have been, but there’s a digital speedo and phone mirroring. I’d get along just fine with those.

Should I buy one?

There’s not a direct Rapide replacement – the DBX will, effectively, be it. I wonder if it’s a shame that the last of the VH cars wasn’t a fire-breathing version of one of the more glamorous coupés, rather than this lower-key run-out. But the Rapide, being the longest Aston, with a hefty aluminium structure down its middle, has the biggest backbone of them all. So, in a way, fitting. I know, new dawn, but I’ll miss it.

Aston Martin Rapide AMR specification

Where Warwickshire Price £194,950 On sale Now Engine V12, 5935cc, petrol Power 595bhp at 7000rpm Torque 465lb ft at 5500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1995kg Top speed 205mph 0-60mph 4.2sec Fuel economy 21.0mpg CO2 300g/km Rivals Mercedes-AMG GT 4dr S, Rolls-Royce Ghost

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Comments
16

27 March 2019

One of the best looking saloons ever, IMO.  

27 March 2019

You have got to be joking!

27 March 2019

not a saloon.

27 March 2019

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yajilasax@

27 March 2019

27 March 2019
Not a fan of the latest Aston's, which seem to have lost their classy image in favour of down-market detailing such as florescent yellow trim, blacked out chrome and aggressive body kits.

Reminds me of what's happened to Jaguar over the last few years.

I say my piece, then explode.

BANG!!!

27 March 2019

4 stars for such an old crap and 3 and 1/2 for the Ferrari Portofino? :)

27 March 2019

On one hand, this is a fabulous car, beautiful to look at and with a wonderful engine.

On the other hand, why on earth do Aston Martin insist on putting all those horrible yellow bits all over their cars?  They look like the sort of tarted up chavmobile you can see on any council estate, not remotely becoming of an almost £200,000 car.  Just horrible, and unbelievably tacky

29 March 2019
martin_66 wrote:

On the other hand, why on earth do Aston Martin insist on putting all those horrible yellow bits all over their cars?  They look like the sort of tarted up chavmobile you can see on any council estate, not remotely becoming of an almost £200,000 car.  Just horrible, and unbelievably tacky

 

It's the Halfords edition.

27 March 2019

Thankfully those yellow bits aren't compulsory

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