There are plenty of new things to love about the track-ready sedan that Aston Martin has announced it will start making later this year.
The Aston Martin Rapide AMR is lower, more powerful and throatier than its racing stripe-less counterparts. At $240,000, it’s quite a bit pricier, too.
This is the production version of the concept we saw last year at the Geneva Motor Show — the highest-tuned version of that four-door Brit, with back seats so small they would serve as an excellent interrogation space. (They’re not quite torture, but they’re uncomfortable enough to make a person question choices.)
The Rapide AMR follows the debut of the DB11 AMR and is meant to bridge the gap between the company’s successful racing team and its road-going cars. Its 580-brake-horsepower V-12 engine has 28 more brake horsepower than the base Rapide. It sits slightly lower and is tuned tighter; if you took it to a track, you would notice the difference.
But when a standard-issue Rapide S costs $205,000, looks more like something its most famous owner, James Bond, would drive, and gets you to 60 mph in exactly the same 4.2-second sprint time, is the extra thrust on the Aston Martin Racing version worth the additional coin?
Probably not. Even with all the new things you’ll have on this Rapide AMR, you still won’t be able to touch the 2.5-second sprint time on the $123,200 Tesla Model S P100D or the 3.6 seconds of the $154,000 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. (I hope it wasn’t lost on you how much cheaper those other cars are.)
And Aston Martin’s real brand strength comes in the elegance of its look and driving persona, not from how mean and aggressive it can be on the track. Leave that to McLaren. (Yes, Aston Martin won Le Mans last year and is a true racing company for the ages. But when it comes to brand image, I’m betting the brand gets more mileage out of its association with a debonair spy, as well as the visual style of the fewer than 5,200 cars sold globally each year.)
The Rapide is the most beautiful four-door car on the market today, much more classic and timeless and rich, visually speaking, than both the Model S and the Panamera. Dressing it in carbon-fiber sporting gear is like seeing James Bond in Under Armour: not exactly how you pictured it.
But anyway! If you’re in love with Aston Martin and really want something you can take onto the track without having to fork over millions and years off your life waiting for some version of that promised Valkyrie hypercar, the AMR could be your ticket to ride.
And as I said, there’s enough here to ogle for quite some time.
Along with that screaming center stripe and three new livery-exclusive design schemes, the Rapide AMR has special exterior badging and interior stitching, forged rims and a steering wheel taken straight from the One-77 supercar — both offered here for the first time by Aston Martin — that mark it immediately as something special.
It also sits 10 millimeters lower than the Rapide S, which means that it will feel more focused and agile from behind the wheel. Its suspension systems have all been optimized — via extensive testing around the Nürburgring, no less. And it carries additional aerodynamic-enhanced bodywork such as the front splitter, side sills, rear diffuser, spoiler, and lid on the trunk, all of which are done in carbon fiber.
A new hood with extra-large ventilation inserts also made from carbon fiber, plus carbon-ceramic disc brakes, contribute to a presumed total weight savings, compared with the Rapide S. (Aston Martin was unable to provide the exact weight of the Rapide AMR by the time of this story’s publication.)
Top speed has yet to be announced, but expect it to peak around 208 mph.
Aston executives say the whole thing is supposed to feel like driving the irreproachable Aston Martin Vantage GT12. Of course, they’re making just 210 of them, with only a quarter of that coming to the United States, so few of us will be able to know for sure if that claim holds.
In the meantime, you may have better luck getting a Tesla.