By most objective measures, the Aston Martin Rapide wouldn’t be billed as the best car launched in 2010. It costs at least £144,950, leaves its two rear occupants shorter on space than they’d rightly expect and sports a relatively piffling 317-litre boot. Given all this, it’s easy to be cynical about the Rapide. I know I was.
Cars in general, and luxury cars in particular, though, have never worked along strictly objective lines, have they? It’s what separates cars from fridges. And if there’s one thing the Aston Rapide does better than more or less any other new car I can think of, it’s make its driver feel damned good about himself.
I can’t think of a car whose control weights and progression are as pleasingly resolved as the Rapide’s, whose throttle, brake and steering are as delicately in tune. Its chassis, meanwhile, expertly treads a fine line between comfort and poise.
I know this might sound glib, but the Rapide is one of those cars I think you need to drive to really like. Like most of my colleagues, before I tried one I reckoned it too cramped, too expensive, and insufficiently equipped.
Then we borrowed one. Throughout its time with us the Aston went to a different but equally sceptical driver every day, who returned the following day after a photoshoot, video shoot, road test or twin test, similarly and utterly smitten.
Yes, the Aston is small in the back and, yes, it does without many of the features that adorn more mainstream luxury cars. But of all the cars I tested in 2010, if I could drive one every day in 2011, it would be the Aston Rapide.