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.

2013 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.

Road test editor
Gaydon says this is its most customisable series model yet

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 less than 5.0sec to hit 60mph, and is capable of 190mph flat out.

It has 17 per cent more power than its predecessor, and 10 per cent 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.