First Drive: 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S reviews luxury cars first drives aston martin
First Drive: 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S reviews luxury cars first drives aston martin
2014 Aston Martin Rapide S. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Michael Bettencourt

Girona, Spain – I’ll admit, I was one of those that thought Aston Martin had lost the plot when they unveiled the first photos of the new 2014 Rapide S four-door. The new shield-shaped grille that dominates its new front end looks like it’s ready to vacuum up small children and Audi patent drawings at the same time, I agreed with many online commenters at the time.

And then I saw it in person in Spain, with a licence plate that usually ruins the front end of supercars, but somehow helped to visually bisect that gaping maw down to more reasonable proportions. Or perhaps it was the rest of this sensuous car’s still sleek lines that captivated me as I walked around the car, when that grille was not visible from the side or rear. All I know is that by the time I had done one slow walk around the car, with Aston officials pointing out design details and upgrades to the heavily revised model, this Rapide S hit me once again as all kinds of sexy.

It’s not like Aston Martin is pushing many design boundaries here, or reaching for new stylistic heights. No, the Rapide S sports the same extremely raked windshield and flowingly curved roof that still integrates the rear doors gracefully, almost lovingly, into the body of what started out life as an artfully stretched Aston DB9 when the Rapide was introduced for 2010. That steeply sloping rear hatch that still provides a very thin view out the back in your rear view mirror now culminates with what Aston calls a more pronounced ‘boot lid flip,’ a taller integrated spoiler that will tell those out of view of its grille that this is the latest and greatest 2014 S model.

So off we hop into the Rapide S the day we arrive at Mas de Torrent Hotel, a beautifully renovated 18th century Catalan farmhouse, about an hour away from Barcelona in the Girona region of Catalonia, or northern Spain, if you like – many of the locals don’t. Wait, I told my drive partner: I have to pick up my recently purchased International Driver’s Permit. I had heard the accounts from colleagues pulled over just weeks before in Spain, many of them taken down to the local policía station and detained for the afternoon when they could only produce their own state licenses.

First Drive: 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S reviews luxury cars first drives aston martin First Drive: 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S reviews luxury cars first drives aston martin
2014 Aston Martin Rapide S. Click image to enlarge

The fleet of Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMGs they were driving? Impounded even longer. Mercedes-Benz insists that no money exchanged hands to free the prisoners/auto writers, but they are a little more vague when it comes to what it took to release the (presumably German-plated) cars.

There’s not a lot of time needed to reacquaint oneself with the Aston’s occasionally unique ergonomics for those who have driven a Rapide before, as the interior is only mildly updated from the suffix-less Rapide, which the S now replaces. It’s still likely to throw off some valets, however, with no shift lever anywhere in sight, but with glass-encased individual buttons for shifting the transmission into P, R, N or D. This row of buttons up high on the instrument panel surrounds the Start button, which is actually less of a button and more of an orifice into which the entire glass-topped key fob is pushed to both start and turn off the car.

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