Which front-engined, high performance four-seater is best?
5 March 2010

The new Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera Turbo have been pitted against each other in an exclusive Autocar test.

Both firms set out to build high-performance, front-engined sports cars that look like coupes but function as saloons, yet the two vehicles are so different in design and execution.

The Panamera has forced induction for its 4.8-litre V8, plus a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, four-wheel drive and a state-of-the-art information interface.

The Aston Martin appeals on a more traditional level, with a conventional 6.0-litre V12 breathing at atmospheric pressure and transferring its energy to the rear wheels alone through a normal, six-speed automatic gearbox.

The Aston is nothing less than gorgeous, but that's something only those employed in Zuffenhausen might rush to say about the Porsche.

Performance

In terms of performance figures, though, the Porsche is ahead. The 493bhp Porsche fights the 470bhp Aston, but the Panamera's 516lb ft of torque to the Rapide's 442lb ft is more significant - as is the fact it delivers it from 2250rpm, fewer than half the revs required by its rival.

But being outpowered doesn't mean being outmanoeuvred. The Rapide's chassis feels as if it has been honed until no further improvement was possible. It rides more firmly than the Porsche, but with no great harshness. What's more, the steering is bizarrely communicative given the car's weight. It is only 20kg lighter than the Panamera, but on a decent B-road it feels clsoer to half a tonne less.

On a mountain road in Wales, the Aston never got left behind by the Panamera, and the German car was strangely remote and joyless to drive by comparison.

Space

In terms of everyday use, the Porsche wins the space race with derisory ease. It's also far easier to operate, no illegible dials or unintelligible navigation. The interior is also Porsche's best - a place of genuine luxury and quality - and is refined in ways the Aston can only dream of.

The Porsche will also use less fuel, and has a far larger boot, and would work for a ski holiday, thanks to its four-wheel drive.

Interestingly, though, the Aston is the quieter car - this is the most refined Aston in history.

Which to buy?

The Aston costs almost half as much again as the Panamera, so should we expect more? No, because Porsche will sell 10 Panamera's for every Rapide. You pay for that exclusivity.

If you are looking for a business tool, then there's no comparison. You must take the Porsche.

But the Panamera's only major failing is also its comeuppance here; it fails to communicate on an emotional level.

The Aston is close to the Panamera technically - more so than you'd imagine. But whether you look at it, listen to it or get in and drive it, it just grabs your heart.

If you could afford either, take the Rapide without a second thought.

Our Verdict

Aston Martin Rapide

The Aston Martin Rapide is beautifully styled and brilliantly accomplished

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Comments
33

1 March 2010

I flatly disbelieve Mr. Prior assertion that Aston cannot develop a more sophisticated (like Fisker have) aluminum monocoque chassis that can truly accommodate human beings in the rear. As it is this Aston is as complete a non-starter for people who need to actually sit in some semblance of comfort as is their coming mini disaster. This company is becoming a remix of its old self...too old. j

1 March 2010

There has been so much made about the aluminium chassis etc of the Rapide, the question should be with only a 20kg weight difference between this and the 4x4 full four seater, is the Aston extremely lardy for a 4 door 2+2 or is the Porsche extremely light. Have they both been on a weighbridge to confirm the given weight or are you just going off manufacturers data. In your road test of the Porsche you state that "weight blunts performance", I have not seen this mentioned about the Rapide. [url]http://www.autocar.co.uk/porsche/panamera/[/url]

1 March 2010

This is the typical AC review involving a British (x) manufacturer. Oh, sure, the Porshe is better at everyting, but buy the Aston - it feels better. Buh!

1 March 2010

Mr Prior,

please let me/us know about some engineering articles you have done for Autocar, I am interested in reading them, thanks, J

1 March 2010

Can you take four sets of golf clubs in either car?

Looking at the boot, I would say Porsche Yes, Aston No.

Driving to the south of France with your partner and two friends with a long weekend's luggage? Take the Porsche.

Interestingly the artcile says that the Porsche driving experience was 'strangely remote'. If you are a mature driver and have had performance cars for many years of your life, maybe even have a few racing specials in your environmentaly controlled garage, then having a slightly more relaxed ride and a slight detachment from the road surface, might be a pleasant way to drive with family or friends.

1 March 2010

[quote Giom37]

This is the typical AC review involving a British (x) manufacturer. Oh, sure, the Porshe is better at everyting, but buy the Aston - it feels better. Buh!

[/quote]

I could not agree more - not to mention the comment in the test that the frankly ridiculously higher price of the Aston Martin is "the price you pay for exclusivity" - I guess with this sort of "explanations", the actual quality of the car indeed is irrelevant when it comes to the decision who wins to comparative test...

Faustcar

1 March 2010

Hmm, the Rapide is really a coupe with extra doors... if you need genuine space for four, these two aren't competitors.

I suspect that an XJ Supersports would give the Panamera a real kicking, though - that's a twin test I'd like to see.

I hoped the Panamera would be great, and I don't even mind the looks. But it appears to be something of a disappointment.

1 March 2010

[quote Giom37]

This is the typical AC review involving a British (x) manufacturer. Oh, sure, the Porshe is better at everyting, but buy the Aston - it feels better. Buh!

[/quote]

I could not agree more - the throw-away comment in the test that the frankly ridiculously higher price of the Aston Martin is simply "the price to pay for exclusivity" adds insult to injury - I guess with this sort of "argumentation" any car can win a comparative test, independent of its intrisic qualities....

Faustcar

1 March 2010

I agree this report is biassed. The Porsche seems objectively the better car. However, not having driven either, and not likely to do so, I suppose we have to accept the subjectivity of the tester's view on this.

1 March 2010

Give me a Quarttroporte any day.......Style and character in abudance....and yes!!! substance too!!!! I wonder why Autocar didnt consider it as one of the competitor !!!! other magazines did!!!!

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