I disagree with Eric, who apparently prefers his sporty superluxury sedans to sound like NASCAR stock cars: I think the Rapide's exhaust note sounds bloody awesome, especially past 4000 rpm, when the V-12 just screams for more. The Rapide might sound slightly more restrained than other Aston products, I'll admit, but it still sounds meaner than 99 percent of cars on the road, and I loved pushing the engine through its broad sweet spot.
I do agree that the transmission isn't the greatest on earth, but it's nonetheless a LOT smoother than that of the paddle-shifted V8 Vantage that we tested last summer. Steering and handling are fantastic, yet the ride is commendably nice. I'd love to drive this car back-to-back-to-back with a Porsche Panamera and a Maserati Quattroporte to see which is the most sports-car-like.
Like other Aston Martins, the Rapide has some incredibly well wrought interior touches, such as the slim sun visor, the lid on the center console, and the metal paddle shifters mounted to the steering column. The paint is a lovely pearlescent white. Even the trunk latch is shockingly nice, and the cabin's carpet is beautiful (although no better than what's in Acura's newest products like the ZDX).
Speaking of the ZDX, the Rapide offers rear-seat headroom that's much better than the Acura's and even acceptable by normal-car standards. Getting into those rear seats is tricky, though, and you definitely have to watch your head on the way in and out. The secret to getting in and out of the Aston is to treat it like it's the exotic car that it is, placing butt in seat first and then carefully swinging legs into the car, one foot at a time, no matter if you're entering a front or back seat. That's a big change of tune from most sedans, but that's what it takes. Once you're in the back, legroom and elbow room are tolerable but cramped, even for this skinny five-foot-six reviewer. On a couple of occasions, unfortunately, it was impossible to get into the back, as a door wouldn't open, from inside or outside the car; re-cycling the locks fixed the malfunction.
But the Rapide's extreme beauty might make such issues tolerable, if I owned this car. Indeed, my daughter's day-care lady had never heard of the brand Aston Martin, but she was shocked at the car's beauty when I showed her a low-quality snapshot on my cell phone. Clearly, this is a striking automobile.