The new Aston Martin Rapide S launched in trademark flamboyant style this week in Spain's Catalonian region, heralding both a new look for the four-door grand tourer and a considerably more focused revision of Aston's most luxurious model.
While the new ‘gaping’ one-piece grille clearly dominates the facelift, it's what's under the bonnet of the new Rapide S that demands the most attention.
The ‘S’ on the nameplate stands for Sport and it signifies a big boost in power for the new Rapide.
Aston Martin has thoroughly re-engineered its naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 to create a new engine known as the AM11.
In fact, about the only thing it shares with the old engine is bore and stroke - almost everything else is new.
Power is up significantly from 350kW in the old car to 410kW – a 17 per cent gain over its predecessor.
Torque is likewise up 20Nm to 620Nm at 5500rpm, but with more substantial gains with a flatter and fatter torque curve that starts earlier in the rev range, with 40Nm more twist available between idle and 4000rpm and an additional 50Nm on tap at 2500rpm.
Performance has improved as a result, with the Rapide S shaving 0.3 seconds off its 0-100km/h time – dropping to 4.9 seconds for the latest iteration - while its top speed climbs to 305km/h.
Despite the increase in all-round performance, the Rapide S consumes less fuel and expels fewer emissions – down from 14.9L/100km to 14.2L/100km and from 335 grams per kilometre to 332g/km.
The powertrain is also mounted 19mm lower in the car, which reduces the centre of gravity for improved stability while addressing issues around Europe’s increasingly stringent pedestrian protection laws.
Other technical changes include the introduction of three-stage adaptive damping – the previous car had a two-stage system.
Working with technical partner Bilstein to increase the dynamic capabilities of the car, the Rapide S now offers ‘normal’, ‘sport’ and ‘track’ settings by varying the level of compliance from the dampers.
While there are cooling benefits from the Rapide’s new styling, the decision to go with an all-new grille design is largely an aesthetic one and driven by the desire to properly differentiate between the four current Aston Martin model lines (Vantage, DB9, Vanquish, Rapide S).
“It’s the most powerful Rapide we’ve ever had and we felt that it needed a face that was befitting of that gesture," said Aston Martin design director Marek Reichman.
“It gives the car much more presence on the road; it emphasises the front of the car and there is no problem in telling a Rapide as it comes towards you now.”
The Rapide S still has the signature Aston ‘s-curve’ shape in the new grille, but it’s overall less subtle that the previous model.
There’s also a new integrated ducktail-style boot lid (complete with ‘s-curve’) for greater rear downforce, but all other lines on the Rapide S remain unchanged from the outgoing car.
Inside, there are no changes, although customers will be able to choose a piano black interior pack, while Aston is also debuting Duotone perforated red and black leather in the Rapide S.
CarAdvice is the only Australian publication at the international launch of the Aston Martin Rapide S in Spain. Stay tuned for our full review of the car later this week, as well as local pricing.