Autocar's Steve Cropley has been given exclusive access to the Aston Martin Rapide, joining the development team during hot weather testing in Kuwait.
Riding in Aston's DB9-based £150,000 four-door, which is due to go on sale next year, Cropley had an unrivalled opportunity to learn about the new car as it was pounded in temperatures beyond 50 degrees centigrade.
"It was remarkable how good the development car was," says Cropley. "It had a discreet engine note, an absence of rattles,, Alcantara headlining, double-stitched leather and a general aura of luxury.
"From the front passenger's seat the car reminded me a lot of a DB9, mainly because its fascia is so familiar. So are the mechanical bits; the 6.0-litre V12 engine has the same 470bhp output, though the torque and throttle curves are being tweaked to suit saloon users."
Cropley says of his ride in the back of the car: "The Rapide is not the easiest rear compartment I've ever climbed into, but once installed I was comfortable. There was enough knee and head room to be snug and comfortable, and the rear seat was a little higher than the front so there was a decent view ahead, which I prefer.
"Though cautioned not to take much notice of ride quality - Aston will do more work here - I found the Rapide impressively flat and controlled, more sensitive to coarse surfaces than an S-class but less so than a DB9. It seemed a promising compromise."