Drink it all in – this is the last chance to buy Aston’s old-school V12.
The fat lady sings
Foot flat down, negotiating sweeping bend after sweeping bend, I’m lost in aural euphoria after just 10 minutes of AMR exposure. This is the last mission for an engine that’s become synonymous with Aston Martin: a naturally-aspirated V12 that sings like Pavarotti and punches like Ali. We live in an age of stringent emissions regs, turbocharging and electrification, and every new car from Gaydon from now on will succumb to at least one of these trends. Which makes this, the Rapide AMR, the spicy run-out special for both the V12 and the marque’s four-door anachronism.
As the revs climb, the AMR’s V12 is free of turbo lag, naturally, and devoid of unsightly lumps of boosty torque. Instead its power delivery is rich in predictable, heaving thrust. Peak power isn’t accessed until 7000rpm in a very old-school kind of way, making your hairs stand on end until you bump into the frustratingly unmarked limiter. You soon learn when to shift, based on gut feel and experience.
Save for a slight dead spot in the steering around the straight-ahead, feedback from the enormous wheel is generous, and there’s a real balance to the Aston in tighter corners; bodyroll is all but non-existent – impressive for such a porker. The Aston’s not spiky, either – for a car with a 600bhp thunderclap in its nose, the AMR isn’t difficult to drive hard. That said, it can still cause anxious moments, being longer than a Range Rover and as tricky to see out of as a solitary-confinement cell.
AMR spec includes excellent carbon-ceramic brakes, a limited-slip diff and a generous approach to the use of carbonfibre: the front and rear valances, spoiler, bonnet and transmission tunnel are all made of the stuff.
The dated interior – save for the supportive AMR-spec alcantara seats – can be ignored, while the rear space can be openly laughed at by anyone over 4ft tall. The cupboard under your stairs is less cramped than the back of a Rapide. Instead, you just drive and relish what’s great about this Rapide – a bombastic swansong for a long line of cars with a beating heart of pure automotive pleasure.
Older than the hills and about as roomy as a plane’s toilet cubicle, but the Rapide AMR can still show today’s bunch of snowflake, millennial sports cars a thing or two. A fitting swansong for a brilliant engine ★★★★★
PLUS + Noise, deft handling, little else like it
MINUS - Not the most practical four-door, the end of an epic engine
THE FIRST HOUR
How many people will spec the lurid lime green accents?
£195k for a car with this outdated interior? It had better be good to drive
Ha! It makes such a harrumph on start-up; not for shrinking violets
That noise doesn’t go away, either – it’s gorgeous
I know I’m tall, but I simply cannot fit in the back – what’s the point?
It might be two tonnes but it certainly doesn’t feel it behind the wheel