The Aston Martin Rapide’s only genuine ancestor is the Lagonda that Aston Martin made over a quarter of a century ago. The idea of a new four-door, four-seat Aston based on the company’s existing VH platform first saw the light of day at the Detroit show in 2006, shortly after Aston had been sold by Ford to its new band of shareholders, who green-lighted the car pretty much the moment they set eyes on it.

Aston Martin describes the Rapide as “the most elegant four-door sports car in the world”. It’s a bold claim from an increasingly confident car company, but not one that can be dismissed as hyperbole. Because from the moment this car was announced there has been an inherent correctness about the idea of a four-seat, four-door Aston Martin based on the already excellent VH platform.

And in the metal the Rapide does not disappoint. It’s an unusually long car – more than a foot longer than the DB9 – but the fundamental proportions are certainly breathtakingly elegant. When people see this car they tend to smile and point.

Question is, does the Rapide work as a four-seater in practice and just how much of the Aston experience has been preserved in the transformation?

And the biggest test it faces is whether the Rapide has sufficient luxury and presence to justify its startlingly high price next to the likes of the Mercedes S-class, BMW 7-series and other rivals.

Top 5 Super luxury

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka