Aston Martin Rapide S revealed
The new model is being touted as a fresh addition to the range, but in truth, it represents a relatively early face-lift for a car that has struggled to establish its identity since it was launched in 2010. As such, it replaces the 'non-S' Rapide in the range.
The Rapide S gets a new front grille design, a new bonnet and a different front bumper to help comply with pedestrian impact regulations. The more radical changes come under the bonnet, where the 6.0-litre V12 engine sits lower than before.
It also produces more power - 550bhp at 6750rpm, instead of the old car's 471bhp at 6000rpm. Torque rises too, from 373lb ft to 385lb ft - and Aston is claiming that there's a bigger difference than this further down the rev range, due to improvements in flexibility.
The Rapide S is quicker than the outgoing model, trimming 0.3sec from its 0-62mph time to take it down to 4.9sec. The top speed is higher too, at 190mph.
The revisions to the engine have improved efficiency; its average economy rises to 19.9mpg, and CO2 emissions drop from 355g/km to 332g/km.
Aston claims the lower engine position improves front-end turn-in, and the car also features the latest version of Aston's Adaptive Damping System - which offers three selectable models: Normal, Sport and Track.
The cabin layout remains broadly the same as before, meaning that the Rapide S is unlikely to give rear passengers any more space than the original car, but the rear seats can be folded down flat to give a luggage capacity of around 900 litres.
The options list has been expanded to include new finishes, including piano black and carbonfibre, and new materials, including two-tone red and black leather seats. Aston also claims the car's NVH has been improved, making it a more refined cruiser.
The Rapide S goes on sale next month; no prices have been announced, but we'd expect it to start at around £150,000.
By John McIlroy