I refuse to bore you about how the inception of the Aston Martin Rapide S came to be. I could go on and tell you that because Porsche is owned by Volkswagen, they had a limitless budget to produce a four door car from the ground up and did not have to resort to stretching a perfectly propotioned 911 Carrera S - that would be horrible. So to cut all of that out, let me tell you that Aston Martin does not have the deep pockets of Porsche, but where they lack in budget for R&D, they more than make up for with passion, flair, and soul. In this tier of a car, that's what truly matters.
It's a mistress of sorts, should you be a loyal to your wife. And if given the chance, you wouldn't want a monotonous robot who folds all of your shirts and stacks them in perfect symmetry every single time, oh no. You want a fiery and temperamental babe with legs that stretch the River Nile, and is completely useless apart from the fact that she is the prettiest thing you've ever laid your eyes on. Except, one day you arrive and see her in nothing but her underwear and a pinstriped polo, while she unknowingly brews you the best cup of coffee you've ever had in your life.
THAT is what you really want.
A couple of months back, I was able to drive the menacing V12 Vantage S around the track, and in as much as I was blown away with the engine and the theater, it wasn't how I imagined an Aston Martin to be.
It was by all accounts a beautiful car, but it didn't have the understated elegance that would make Charlotte Casiraghi look twice, nor did it have an interior similar to the Monte Carlo club lounge of jet set legend, Porfirio Rubirosa. Fortunately, the Rapide S is a completely different story.
This is the full benediction of an Aston Martin.
When you stand near the Rapide, it doesn't matter what it is in the presence of. Whether it be a Range Rover, a Rolls-Royce, or even a green Lamborghini, it is unlike anything else on the road today. I have never seen anything burst so much life into the color gray. It is by 9,000,000 miles plus a zillion, the most beautiful thing to ever have four doors. Through Aston Martin's ingenuity, it was designed with their trademark 'Golden Ratio', which means that it looks perfectly proportional from every single angle.
And it isn't just aesthetics, the design helps the engineers achieve a near perfect weight distribution. The massively aggressive front grille that feeds air to the bombastic 6-liter V12 engine, is also the largest grille to ever pass pedestrian protection requirements. By no means does that equate to walking away when a Rapide decides to run you over at 327 km/h.
"IT IS A VACHERON CONSTANTIN IN A GENERATION OF APPLE WATCHES."
Stepping inside the Rapide is a class above first. The key, which they refer to as an 'Emotional Control Unit', is made of Sapphire Crystal. While that may sound a little bit cheesy, there isn't anything to cringe about when you slot that key in and awaken all 552 British thoroughbreds. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, the exhaust note of an Aston Martin V12 engine is absolute perfection. It sounds like God doing... ungodly things. After you've been hypnotized by the V12 bellow, you'll soon realize that you are in the most special place you'll probably ever be in. Ever. Everything inside is bespoke.
It takes 5,000 stitches to embroider an Aston Martin logo on the seat, just to get the perfect finish. The buttons to select gears are made of glass. The smell of the leather is so pungent that if you were Vegan or if you love animals, you'd have to kill yourself on the spot for enjoying the whiff of cow hide from the Bridge of Weir tannery. I still can't understand any of the functions on the waterfall of buttons, but really, none of that matters because everything is so textile and pleasurable to touch. You'd be forgiven if you had an orgasm. Don't be shy.
"All of a sudden, the main entrances of establishments were now free parking slots."
While it might take an eternity to sort out how to make your phone play some music on the Bang & Olufsen stereo, when it does, you'll understand that you really needed to pay some penance to be worthy of hearing the sound all 15 speakers produce.
It is so great in fact, that I couldn't decide whether to listen to the V12 soundtrack or to listen to music - a dilemma that would have never happened in a Ferrari.
"YOU CAN REALLY OPEN UP AND ENJOY THAT UNIQUE BUTTERY V12 POWER SURGE - A FEAT THAT EVERY MAN MUST BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIVES."
Soon, you are going to switch it in gear and drive off. It won't take 20 yards until you realize something they've gotten completely right this time: the transmission. The achilles heel for more than a decade has been Aston Martin's automated manual transmission, which felt like your grandmother changing gears for you. This new 8-speed TouchTronic III is void of that. It is smooth in traffic and a joy on the open road. And because it is no longer fragile, you can really open up and enjoy that unique buttery V12 power surge - a feat that every man must be able to experience at least once in their lives. It handles really well for its size too, but that's expected from a Le Mans challenging manufacturer.
The Aston Martin experience stretches past driving. A total of three intersections that were manned by the police force disrupted the flow of traffic just to let me through. It wasn't something I requested for, but it came naturally in our sad prejudicial culture. Doors opened wherever I went. All of a sudden, the main entrances of establishments were now free parking slots. What's worse was that the guard that was offering me to park right in front of the door, was the same one, that just days ago, shoo'd me away while waiting to pick up someone. Sometimes cars like these can be a wake up call. And it should be, when it costs 100,000 short of 22 million pesos.
So what do we make of this car? Well, it doesn't ride like an S-Class, it doesn't have the dynamic capabilities of a Panamera, and neither does it have the futuristic tech of a 7 Series. It doesn't park itself, it doesn't stop in it's own, and it can't even seat five. Uber for the fifth person. So what is it then? Well, you could argue that a car like this at a stratospheric price point is quite useless. You may have a point, but in an age where your Apple and Android watches can read all of your emails without picking up your phone, I could also argue that a Patek-Philippe Calatrava should cease to exist.
Yet, somehow it does. A Vacheron Constantin in a generation of Apple Watches is a beautiful thing. If digital was the way to go, then Rolex should have been dead the moment G-Shock flooded the world two decades ago, but that isn't the case. Unlike digital watches, analog ones are timepieces. They are works of art and a result of countless hours of meticulous craftsmanship done by Dario, whose ancestors he may have never met, were watchmakers before him.
"This is a timeless Princess Diana."
It is the exact same thing with Aston Martin's Rapide S. You can surely get twice the car elsewhere for half the price, but that is completely missing the point. It is the ultimate reward for those who can afford it and an aspiration to the lucky few who grace its presence.
In a sea of astute Hillary Clintons and obnoxious Donald Trumps, this is a timeless Princess Diana. It is an expression of love, art, symmetry, boldness, and passion. Ultimately, it is Aston Martin's gift to the world.
Really, a love letter to cars.