I may need to apologize to the city of Beverly Hills for distracting a few eyes from its big car event this past weekend.
When covering an event like 2015 Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance, it helps me to fit the scene if I can drive a car as lauded and treasured as the classic machines that brought me to Los Angeles. The 2015 Aston Martin Rapide S fit that bill maybe too well, occasionally calling attention away from the priceless museum pieces along Rodeo Drive and over to a very modern and sublime machine.
A true super car in every sense of the word, the Rapide is a perfect aspirational machine. With a starting sale price starting around $207,000, few cars in the world combines elite luxury and superior performance as effortlessly as the Rapide S.
It all begins with the exterior styling. From that unmistakable grill, to that proud badge, through that long and sweeping hood all the way back to its broad haunches, there’s simply not a beat mixed by her designers. There’s no ugly angle on this car, and its presence on the road turns heads, pulls eyes, stops pedestrians and breaks longing hearts.
A car looking as sophisticated and smooth as the Rapide S hides its gentlelady savagery under the hood. The trademark AM29 V12 engine fills every inch of that long engine bay, pushing the car away from less mortals with 552 horsepower, a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds (outstanding for a car its size) and a top speed of 203 mph.
Related: 2015 Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance
The resulting engine note is classic Aston. And, if you haven’t visited the automaker’s engine noise collection, you’ve done yourself an auditory disservice. It starts with a bark before settling into a gentle hum. As you get the car moving, it grumbles a warning of its oncoming presence. And, if you can find an opportunity to open her up, she quite literally explodes with noise — roaring and banging in harmony as she launches herself through and away from traffic.
More impressively, the engine even sounds good slowing down to a quick stop — double clutch shifting down through its eight speed, Touchtronic III transmission.
Looks and performance aside, purchasers reach for the sky with the Aston Martin Rapide S – and, indeed, any Aston – for the car’s aura. The car has an effect on everyone. For the uninitiated, they stare and wonder what the hell it is. For the car lover, it’s a dream — unattainable for some, but a motivation for others.
After picked up the review vehicle from a fleet service at LAX, I had possession of the vehicle for less than 45 minutes before I found strangers tentatively creeping up to it to take selfies with the car. When those same folks spotted the driver, they would shower me with congratulations as though I had something to do with the creation of the Rapide S.
I have a theory about that reaction to an Aston Martin. Its price tag sets it amongst the majority of other European supercars. But it’s classy demeanor sets it apart. For example, Ferrari makes exquisite pieces of engineering and performance. But, I think the public views their drivers as showy and elitist. You can say all of the same for Lamborghini, but their drivers come off even more showy and in your face. An Aston can match those vehicles’ performance levels, but people expect a gentleman behind the wheel.
A Rolls-Royce is as high up the luxury food chain as one can reach, but it’s deliberately smug and stuffy. They pride themselves on it. Aston Martins allow for a but more fun with your superiority. Bentley can match the sophistication of Aston Martin, but lags a bit behind with overly conservative styling.
An Aston Martin is unique, and its driver needs to realize it. The car is extremely comfortable, technologically advanced, perfectly balanced and precision powered. It’s a car that man can drive at extreme and aggressive speed, but he shouldn’t. He should show a little more class — until those passing moments arrive when it becomes necessary to exercise the force at his disposal. Then, all you’ll see are some very distinctive and bright taillights.