Aston Martin Rapide: driven

* First four-door from Aston Martin * 6.0-litre engine * Six-figure pricetag...

Aston Martin Rapide: driven

Aston Martin calls the Rapide 'a four-door coupe' rather than use the 'saloon' word, and that's understandable when you look at it.

There really is room for four, although getting in and out of the back isn't the most elegant of operations.

However, if the kids are fed up with being left behind every time you take out your current Aston, this could be the perfect solution.

On the Road
Aston's 6.0-litre V12 engine has been tuned for effortless performance rather than raw power in the Rapide, and it's mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. It's an ideal combination for a four-seater GT, making for fast, effortless travel.

For a car that's more than five metres long it feels nimble and compact when you're driving. Thanks to the adaptive suspension system it also provides an outstandingly supple ride over poor road surfaces even with 20-inch alloys.

There's some road noise on grainy surfaces, but otherwise you have to be travelling very fast to create much of a disturbance and the sound of its V12 isn't going to annoy many owners.

In the Cabin
The Rapide is a big car that seems to shrink when you get it out on the road. The driving position is snug, but there's an electronic parking brake to make life easier a first for Aston and the seats suit the GT character of the car.

Four people can travel comfortably even six-footers at a pinch. The difficult part is getting in and out over the high, wide sill with any degree of elegance. The boot isn't flat, but it passes the golf clubs test and has a divider to help secure luggage. You can even fold down the rear seats.

Cooled seats and a rear entertainment system are options, and you can specify just about any colour of paint and trim you like. The rest is standard, right down to a Bang & Olufsen hi-fi system with MP3-player connectivity, plus front and rear climate control, and heated seats.

The six-figure pricetag is closer to the Bentley Continental's than a Porsche Panamera's, but you do get a lot for it. What will be interesting, considering this is the first four-door Aston, is how well it holds its value.

The cabin is enticing the instant you open the door, with lovely materials stylishly used. Reader reviews on our website of other Astons suggest that reliability troubles aren't entirely things of the past, even though things are improving.

Changes to the bodywork used in other Aston models should improve crashworthiness. Naturally, you get all the safety features you'd expect in an expensive and rapid sporting GT.

What Car? says
You'll like The looks; the drive
You won't The price; the rear access
We say: Aston's first four-door model is a real hit