Thankfully, we’re not in such treacherous, misleading waters here. A ‘pre-loved’ Aston Martin V12 that costs around £70,000 is less likely to leave anyone in doubt that it’s an expensive car: to buy, to own, to juice up at the petrol station – full stop. And £70,000 will be about the size of the vacuum left in your bank account right now by a healthy early example of Gaydon’s extra-rare-groove four-door coupé, the Rapide. That’s cheap enough to be a much more realistic proposition than the car ever was at its original £140k-plus-options price, but still expensive enough to reflect its rarity and eccentricity.
So let’s assume, for a while, that we’re all in the market for a deliciously powerful, genuinely usable, extra-desirable pseudosaloon, as well we all might aspire to be. Should you take a gamble on manageable running costs with a five-year-old Rapide, fairly safe in the knowledge that your car isn’t going to depreciate too much in the next few years? Or should you opt for the more expensive but more predictable ownership experience of a brand-new Audi RS7 Performance? Won’t ‘predictable’ just mean ‘prosaic’ in the Audi’s case – albeit perhaps only relatively so?
Well, no, it won’t, actually. Not on the road, at any rate. And certainly not once you’re used to the incredible well of pace that the RS7 can tap into whenever you happen to fancy another neck workout.
Anyone thinking that this might be a closely matched contest in terms of point-to-point pace has probably forgotten what a laid-back machine the original Rapide was. We’ll get to that. They’re definitely underestimating the sheer brutality of the Audi’s accelerative facets, though – which might allow it to sniff fiendishly at the tailpipes of plenty of supercars on most give-and-take roads and certainly to drive away from an Aston Martin that’s at a 30% disadvantage to the Audi on peak power and a greater one still on mid-range torque.
The RS7 Performance is obscenely, almost schizophrenically fast. The car’s engine and accelerator pedal both feel quite tame and well mannered at first – fairly reserved, not highly strung at all and not even particularly imposing. Very Audi, really. Until you venture past the mid-point of the throttle, this is a luxury car of predictably polished capacities: easy to drive, light and pleasant in its control weights, nicely cosetting and quiet in the ride of its air suspension. Demure.
And then, when your toe tips into that last inch of loud-pedal travel, the beast suddenly wakes up – and exorcises its sore head. So abrupt and dramatic is the increase in force you get from the car’s twin-turbo V8 that you couldn’t feed in the last 150 horsepower smoothly, even if you wanted to. The car simply bludgeons its way frantically towards the horizon, clawing venomously at the asphalt and yet somehow preserving most of the sense of luxury that it had before.