Aston Martin’s mission to bring us the most beautiful four-door in the world hit second gear with this, the Aston Martin Rapide S.

When 2013 rolled around, it marked the arrival of what you might call a mid-cycle refreshed version of the intriguing hybrid coupe-cum-saloon, launched in 2010 - except that the Aston Martin Rapide S is a much more altered animal compared to the original model than those terms would imply.

There’s a whole new front-end structure here, a revised engine, a reinforced body, a reappraised chassis, a freshened-up cabin – as well as that thrusting new grille.

Here, then, is a chance for Gaydon to hit the reset button; to cast memories of the first Rapide’s troubled early years – of outsourced production, slow initial sales and punishing early residual values – to the dustbin of history. This car may not quite be all new, but rest assured, it’s much newer than it looks. Perhaps even more important, it’s a clean slate.

Aston’s claims for it are many. This car, they say, pushes the company’s four-door model through two specific performance watersheds: it takes 4.2sec to hit 60mph, and is capable of 203mph flat out.

It has 17 percent more power than its predecessor, and 10 percent more torque at 2500rpm. It has a heavily revised chassis too, and offers as big a gain in refinement as it does on speed. 

Is all that to be believed? You’re about to read the only verdict that matters.

Top 5 Super luxury

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster 2017
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    It's the slower and cheaper of the two AMG GT Roadsters, but these adjectives are harsh given this excellent open-top's broad range of talents
  • Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster 2017
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster arrives with an upgraded chassis over the Coupé and tweaks that make it even more thrilling to drive
  • First Drive
    29 March 2017
    Sporty GT Line styling gives Kia's city car the visual lift it needs to go toe-to-toe with its European rivals, and the 1.2-litre engine does a power of good for its drivability
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110 SE Navigation
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    This is a first UK drive of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf, which comes with an updated infotainment system and a lower price. What's not to like?
  • Volkswagen Golf R
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    A facelift for the fantastically capable all-rounder delivers more power and new tech to the cabin, improving on an already exceptional formula