What is it?
If you judged it by looks alone, you’d wonder why on earth we were giving so much space to the revamped Aston Martin Rapide S.
There are some new colours inside and out and that’s about it. But as with the revised Aston Martin Vanquish, the real story is beneath the skin, where the Rapide has been subtly but significantly altered in every important area.
The most obvious change is the adoption of the same eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox used by the Vanquish; and just in case you presumed it follows naturally the same transmission will be used in the DB9, think again.
For as long as it lasts, which we don’t believe will be very long, Aston’s oldest campaigner soldiers on with the even older six-speed box with which it was born well over a decade ago.
The new gearbox releases the performance hitherto pent up in the Rapide’s svelte shape, knocking half a second off the 0-62mph time and raising top speed from 190mph to genuinely impressive 203mph.
How has a gearbox been able to do this? Its speed of response and closer ratios account for the acceleration and the fact Aston no longer has to restrict top speed to prevent the gearbox from hitting the limiter in top gear explains the improved terminal velocity.
But that’s just the start. To cope with the additional top speed the front brakes have swelled so that now mighty 400mm rotors sit behind those attractive new wheels.
The engine has the latest Bosch management which would not have been able to talk to the old gearbox and it’s responsible not just for another couple of horsepower and a handful extra lb ft on the torque readout, but far quicker throttle response too.
There also also new bushings in the new suspension. So you can see just how much work has gone on beneath an almost unchanged surface.