The Aston Martin Rapide S, with options like ventilated seats ($1,740) and shiny, 20-inch, 10-spoke Gloss Black ($5,705) wheels is defining exclusivity in a sliver of the marketplace referred to as "four-seat sports cars" or "four-door coupes."
Coupes by definition have two doors and sports cars have not only a pair of doors, but also light, nimble handling and tight packaging. Aston is among a handful of auto makers asking for an exception to traditional rules.
Aston argues that this car has the nifty responses of an entertaining gem, the design of a sleek fastback and pricing to keep the riff-raff at bay and in awe.
Yes, the car is interesting and rare. Aston sold about 4,000 cars around the world last year. What Aston calls a luxury GT is a bomb and a beast and it not only leaves the masses gob-smacked, it overwhelms them with performance.
Ulrich Bez, the chief executive officer of Aston Martin for 13 years, was closely involved in the car's development, calls it, "without doubt, the most beautiful four-door sports car on the market today." Certainly, the car is striking.
And in some ways it's a challenge. Snuggling into the tight-fitting cabin requires flexibility, minimal girth and conscious execution. Thick side rails for structure are also hurdles to entry. Smallish door openings and racy bucket seats are, too. This is a fairly large four-door car – not a roomy one.
The instruments and controls are functional and interesting – not sumptuous. A small herd of cows gave their hides to the cabin's cause, and the smooth leather is beautiful. The shine of the black interior finishings is one standout; the pure-glass transmission selector switches are another.
A serious car demands a serious power train. Here, it's a 550-horsepower V-12 that delivers 0-100 km/h in less than five seconds. Everything from the mill's machined combustion chambers and light and hollow cam shafts, to the guttural exhaust, is a delight.
The chassis is a match. A low centre of gravity flattens cornering and the steering responds precisely to the slightest input. The Adaptive Damping System offers "Normal," "Sport," or "Track" modes. Sport works best when you'll trade comfort for high-speed poise otherwise, Normal is best.
So a serious driver's car. Perhaps such a thing as a "coupe" with four doors does exist.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker
YOU WILL LIKE THIS CAR IF ...
You are a serious driver whose interest is in a racy car, one that's exclusive and capable and from a storied brand.
Type: Luxury GT
Base price: $210,500 ($220,870 as tested)
Gas engine: 6.0-litre V-12
Horsepower/torque: 550 hp/457 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drive: All-wheel drive
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 16.2 city/10.7 highway, using premium fuel
Alternatives: Rolls-Royce Ghost, Bentley Flying Spur